Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Elmer Gertz  

Pen Name: None


Born: September 14, 1906 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Wikipedia --
-- Elmer Gertz on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Gertz was born in Chicago. Attended University of Chicago Law School.

Biographical and Professional Information

Gertz was an American lawyer, writer and civil rights activist. He remained involved in education throughout his life, teaching a civil rights class at John Marshall Law School until his death.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

To Life: The Story of a Chicago Lawyer
ISBN: 0809316080

Southern Illinois University Press. 1990

Elmer Gertz has defended famous people—including Henry Miller, Nathan Leopold, and Jack Ruby—and he has become famous in his own right through his struggle for civil liberties and personal rights.

Gertz has taken on a lengthy list of cases and causes over the six decades of his legal career. He fought successfully against the censorship of Henry Miller’s book Tropic of Cancer, which had been banned in Chicago for obscenity. He got Nathan Leopold released from prison after Leopold had served 34 years for his part in the death of 14-year-old Bobby Franks. An ardent foe of the death penalty, Gertz labored for years as part of a national team of lawyers that was finally able to overturn Jack Ruby’s death sentence for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. Gertz’s cases have helped make libel law in the nation.

For this edition, Gertz adds an afterword that covers the 15 years since the book’s first publication. Gertz talks of Henry Miller’s last days and his travels to the USSR on behalf of the Refuseniks.