Elmer Gertz Photo

Elmer Gertz

Born: Sep 14, 1906

Death: Apr 27, 2000

Birthplace: Chicago

Profession: Lawyer

Nationality: United States

Elmer Gertz

Date of Birth : Sep 14, 1906
Date of Death : Apr 27, 2000
Birth Place : Chicago

Elmer Gertz was an American lawyer, writer, law professor, and civil rights activist. During his lengthy legal career he won some high-profile cases, most notably parole for notorious killer Nathan Leopold and the obscenity trial of Henry Miller's novel Tropic of Cancer, a book published in France but banned in the United States because of its "candid sexuality" in describing the author's life in Paris. In addition to accounts of his cases and career, he also reviewed books and edited a collection of works by Frank Harris, whom he represented as literary agent for a while. He is best remembered in the legal world, however, for a case in which he was not an advocate but a plaintiff: Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., a libel action he brought against the John Birch Society in 1969 after it accused him of being part of a Communist conspiracy to discredit local police departments. He prevailed, but only after a 14-year battle that saw the case go before the Supreme Court, which ruled that as a private figure Gertz did not have to prove actual malice on the defendants' part.


  • Lawyer
  • Writer
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