Behold People v. Lenny Bruce. And note his three lawyers who handled the appeal of his obscenity conviction for his performance at the famed Gate of Horn nightclub in Chicago (December 1962):
Professor Kalven, the famed First Amendment scholar, had long been critical of the Court’s ruling in Roth v. United States (1957) and its progeny. He aired those reservations in his seminal 1960 Supreme Court Review article titled “The Metaphysics of the Law of Obscenity.” Thus his interest in People v. Bruce; it presented itself as a test case to reexamine Roth.
To help Kalven move from the theoretical to the practical, Kalven collaborated with Maurice Rosenfield and William Ming — two friends, highly reputable lawyers, and colleagues from their University of Chicago Law School days.
Rosenfield, who once co-authored an article with Kalven, was a partner in the law firm of Devoe, Shadur, Mikva, and Plotkin. He had represented Hugh Hefner in the mid-1950s and into the 1960s, and had likewise filed an amicus brief in Roth on behalf of the Authors League of America (Abe Fortas was also on that brief).
Ming was the first African American professor at the University of Chicago Law School. He had been one of Thurgood Marshall’s advisors and worked with Marshall on the Brown v. Board brief (his name was listed between Jack Greenberg and Constance Baker Motley).
There is, to be sure, more to the story, much more.* Suffice it to say that in the end, the trio prevailed when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Bruce’s favor.
* See Ronald Collins & David Skover, The Trials of Lenny Bruce (2002), pp. 175-182.
→ For more on the Chicago connection, see “Laughter & the First Amendment,” Chicago Humanities Festival (Geoffrey Stone, Ron Collins, Judge Diane Wood & Judge William Bauer — introduced by Burt Joseph) (Geof stone was at his comedic best).