Orestes Found Not Guilty in National Hellenic Museum’s Trial

Re-trail of Orestes

On Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 at the UIC Forum, the National Hellenic Museum presented a mock trial of the ancient Greek mythological character, Orestes, son of Agamemnon, of the cursed House of Atreus. Orestes was put to trial for the charge of matricide, and the majority of the 600 guests who attended the re-trial event voted Orestes “not guilty.” There was, however, a hung jury of 16 jurors, while the judges, whose vote was not taken into account, voted guilty 2 to 1.

The court participants included Judge Honorable Richard A. Posner, Presiding Judge, Honorable Charles P. Kocoras, and Honorable William J. Bauer. Orestes was defended by Dan K. Webb (Winston & Strawn) and Robert A. Clifford (Clifford Law Offices). Counsel for the prosecution was Patrick J. Fitzgerald (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP) and Patrick M. Collins (Perkins Coie). Hariklia Karis, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, gave the introductory remarks and the background story of Aeschylus’ The Oresteia.

Sixteen distinguished citizens of Chicago decided the validity of the charges. J.P. Anderson, Editor-In-Chief, Michigan Avenue Magazine; Louis G. Apostol, Executive Director & General Counsel, Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board; Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr., 27th Ward, City of Chicago; John Corkery, Dean, The John Marshall Law School; Anna Davlantes, Chicago Journalist; Dean R. Glassberg, Regional President – First Midwest Bank; Angelo Kokkino, President Ghafari Associates; Eleni Kouimelis, Partner, Winston & Strawn & President-Elect, Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois; Annie Kuhlman, American Bar Association; Hon. Anthony C. Kyriakopoulos, Circuit Judge, Circuit Court of Cook, County State of Illinois; Dan Mihalopoulos, Chicago Sun-Times; Dr. Sara Monoson, Professor of Political Science and Classics, Northwestern University; Dr. Robin Rhodes, Archaeologist and Historian of Classical Art & Architecture, University of Notre Dame; A. Thomas Skallas, Partner Thompson Coburn LLP, President, Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois & Vice-Chairman, National Hellenic Museum; Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times; Larry Yellen, Anchor, Fox News.

The Oresteia, by Greek playwright Aeschylus (525-456 BC), is a foundational literary work that examines the crucial place of law in society. Consisting of Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides, the trilogy constitutes a deeply affecting study of crime and punishment, probing such irresolvable and vexatious issues as the nature of justice, the frequent conflicts between love and duty, the torments of moral decision making, our obligations to the gods, society, and ourselves, and the spiritual consequences of irremediable actions. Above all, the Oresteia shows us the burdens of a culture based on the lex talionis—an eye for an eye—and the blessings of a jury trial in a court of law.

The National Hellenic Museum is America’s only national institution to document and present the legacy of Greek Americans and their contributions to the American mosaic, while celebrating their rich Greek history and culture and the profound impact of their Hellenic heritage upon the world.

Watch below The Museum’s Chief of Staff, Yianni Sianis, explaining the re-trial initiative: