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Bob Clifford to Participate in Mock Trial on the Eastland Disaster that killed 844 People

March 25, 2015

Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, will be participating in a mock trial involving the 1915 Eastland Disaster that left 844 people killed in a steamship tragedy on the Chicago River.

Those company officers, executives, employees and agents believed to be responsible for their deaths were brought to trial in a criminal case but they were found not guilty. One hundred years later, the mock criminal case will be reopened with new attorneys, a new judge and new charges being brought against the defendants under the laws of 2015.

Robert Clifford will serve as the prosecuting attorney against the defendants. Dan Webb of Winston & Strawn will defend those accused of causing the deaths of 844 innocent people. Justice Anne Burke of the Illinois Supreme Court will serve as the trial judge, using today’s laws to retry these defendants and the audience will vote on the verdict.

The case involves the incident that occurred on July 24, 1915, when the S.S. Eastland was to take Western Electric employees, their families and friends across Lake Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana, for a day of fun and fellowship. The festivities quickly turned to tragedy when the boat docked at the Clark Street bridge in Chicago never lefu the Chicago Tiver and the ship rolled into the river a t the wharf’s edge. More than 2,500 passengers and crew members were on board and 844 people lost their lives, including 22 entire families. It was the largest loss of life on the Great Lakes from a single shipwreck in history.

A grand jury indicted the president and three officers of the steamship company for manslaughter, and the ship’s captain and engineer were charged with criminal recklessness. Issues of instability, overcrowding of passengers and the construction and design of the ship were part of the trial. The defendants lived in Michigan and extradition was refused by the Illinois court to have them brought here to face the charges.

“The Chicago Trial That Never Was: The Eastland Disaster Criminal Retrial 2015” will be held at the Harold Washington Library Center, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Michigan Av., Chicago, on June 18. A reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. and the trial begins at 6 p.m.

Credits for continuing legal education (CLE) are pending.

Sponsors of the event are the Bohemian Lawyers Association, http://www.bohemianlawyers.com

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For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices’ Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-251-4877 or 847-721-0909.

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