February 1, 2013
History did not repeat itself when Socrates was “re-tried” before nearly 1,000 people in Chicago Thursday (Jan. 31, 2013).
Robert Clifford, senior partner at Clifford Law Offices, was part of the all-star legal team that took part in the mock trial that was sponsored by the National Hellenic Museum.
Clifford along with former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb defended Socrates who originally went on trial in Athens 2,400 years ago and was convicted at age 70 for corrupting the youth and disrespecting the gods. The verdict then was death by drinking poisonous hemlock.
Prosecuting Socrates was former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and former assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins. An “all-star” cast of 14 jurors including Chicago media personalities, politicians and lawyers voted 7-7 on the matter. When the issue of Socrates’ guilt or innocence was turned to the audience who turned in chips that were weighed on a scale, it tipped to his guilt. The crowd, however, overwhelmingly voted against the death penalty. Instead, he was fined 3,000 silver drachmas at the mock trial.
U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit was the presiding judge. He said following the trial to the packed ballroom at the Palmer House that he would have voted to acquit Socrates. Clifford had pointed out how Socrates was a three-time war veteran for Athens and that the trial was based on “fear mongering” among his fellow Athenians. U.S. Court of Appeals Judge William Bauer and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Anna Demacopoulos also presided over the trial.