Robert Clifford and Dan Webb vs. Patrick Fitzgerald and Patrick Collins; they’re among the most prominent and respected attorneys in the United States and, on March 10, they’ll take on the case of Antigone, a young woman from the Greek city of Thebes, charged with treason and facing death for defying the King’s orders and burying her brother, who was deemed a traitor.
The National Hellenic Museum’s Trial of Antigone is a major fundraiser that gives Chicago’s legal dream teams the opportunity to showcase their oratory skills and debate issues that resound in today’s current legal and political climate.
This legal battle will be fought before an illustrious panel of judges, including Federal Judges William J. Bauer, Charles P. Kocoras, and Richard A. Posner, whose name was mentioned in a recent CNN story as a possible candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The fact is the issues in the case transcend to modern times; the power of the government to decree things, the reasonableness of the act, whether or not the gods have a say in what a citizen can do,” said Kocoras in an interview with WGN Radio. “Where does natural law end and man-made law begin?”
Clifford, who joined Kocoras in the radio interview, said the plot of Antigone plays into legal issues arising out of the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. “You have the Republicans saying they’re not going to vet any candidate and you have Obama saying it’s (his) duty to put one forward,” Clifford said. “Do you follow the rule of law that says you have a constitutional duty to act? America is a nation that is governed by a rule of law.”
It’s an opportunity to see history and the legal process come together. “Chicago is blessed with great lawyers, but these are four of the best,” said Kocoras, a first-generation Greek American and longtime supporter of the National Hellenic Museum. “It’s great theater to listen to, great oral advocacy on either side of a debatable issue and it’s just a pleasure to listen to these guys.”
This is the third trial in the National Hellenic Museum’s Trial Series and for those who are keeping score, the legal teams of Fitzgerald and Collins vs. Clifford and Webb are now tied 1-1.
“This year the roles are switched, so Fitzgerald, who gained national attention as a prosecutor, is on the defense team,” said Connie Mourtoupalas, president — cultural affairs, at the National Hellenic Museum. “Beyond the legal issues and those perennial questions that have concerned humanity for thousands of years, I think there’s a fair amount of suspense over which team will come out the winner.”
Mourtoupalas, who initiated the trial series when she moved to Chicago a few years ago, works closely with the attorneys and judges to develop the case, and to establish the record and the charges. “As simple as it seems,” she says, “this play brings you face to face with some startling realizations about human behavior, and some impossible choices. How would you choose between God and country or family and country? Very wisely, the play tells us, but way too late. Both Creon and Antigone are so bent on their own convictions, they can see nothing else. On the other hand, should Antigone have obeyed a law she considers unjust? What if we all obeyed all laws, regardless of what they imposed? What if no one ever opposed the laws of slavery? But where do you draw the line?”
You can join The Trial of Antigone and cast your vote for Antigone’s guilt or innocence on March 10 at The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lakeshore Drive. Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. and the trial begins at 6:30 p.m. For event tickets visit www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org.
The Honorable William J. Bauer, Judge for the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
The Honorable Charles P. Kocoras, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois
The Honorable Richard A. Posner, Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Robert A. Clifford, Founder & Senior Partner, past president of the Chicago Bar Association
Patrick M. Collins, Partner, Perkins Coie, former U.S. Assistant Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Litigation Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
Dan K. Webb, Chairman, Winston & Strawn, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
Louis G. Apostol, Executive Director & General Counsel, Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board
Maria Bazakos, Dussias Skallas LLP
The Honorable Walter Burnett, City of Chicago Alderman, 27th Ward
The Honorable Peggy Chiampas, Associate Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County
Andrea Darlas, WGN Radio, Morning News Anchor & Reporter
Kathleen Klaeser, The Field Museum, President of the Women’s Board
Eleni Kouimelis, Esq., Winston & Strawn LLp
The Honorable Anthony C. Kyriakopoulos, Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County
Thomas G. Massouras, Esq., Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development & President of the Hellenic Bar Association
Laura Calamos Nasir, PhD, Senior Vice President, Calamos Investments & Strategic Advisor, National Hellenic Museum
Dr. William Parkinson, The Field Museum, Associate Curator of Eurasian Anthropology