Supreme Court traveling exhibit

Bicentennial Illinois Court Exhibit – A traveling self-guided exhibit that highlights 200 years of Illinois’ judicial system, partially shown here at Collee of DuPage, will be on display in the SIU School of Law formal lounge area, Feb. 20-March 20. (Photo provided)

February 13, 2019

Traveling exhibit highlights 200 years of state’s judicial system

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — An exhibit highlighting Illinois Supreme Court history and famous cases, including a 1928 case affirming the death sentence of Southern Illinois gangster and bootlegger Charlie Birger, will be at the SIU School of Law beginning next week.

The “Bicentennial of Illinois Law Traveling Exhibit” through the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission highlights Illinois attorneys, cases, and information on the judicial system.

The exhibit will be in the law school’s formal lounge/lobby area for self-guided tours during regular hours the law school is open from Feb. 20 through March 20. Admission is free. The content covers many facets of Illinois’ judicial history, including:

  • An emphasis on the Illinois Supreme Court and its various locations over 200 years.
  • Brief biographies of four famous Illinois attorneys and summaries of six interesting cases that happened in the state’s legal system.
  • An explanation of the Illinois court structure and court system operations, including the process on how to become an attorney and judge.

Featured cases include Supreme Court upholding Birger’s murder conviction

The six cases profiled include the February 1928 decision holding Birger’s conspiracy murder conviction for the December 1926 slaying of West City Mayor Joe Adams. Birger was the last man to be publicly hanged in Illinois in April 1928 in Benton.

Other cases include:

Traveling exhibit provides important history

The exhibit is “a wonderful opportunity for members of the public as well as the SIU community to visually learn about the rich history of our courts, told through illustrative cases,” said Douglas Lind, director of the law school’s library and a professor of law. “These include the seemingly mundane, such as a case involving the constitutionality of parking meters, as well as those pivotal cases which helped define and shape the future of our state.”

The Bicentennial of Illinois Law Exhibit opened in Chicago last year and is part of the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission’s celebration of 200 years of Illinois Courts. The exhibit already has been on display at the College of Du Page, University of Illinois College of Law and Knox College.

Other institutions on the schedule to host the display later this year are the Northwestern School of Law, Millikin University and Kankakee Community College.