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Audio: My Life As a Radical Lawyer

Audio 1

William Kunstler introduces his life. He recounts becoming a defender for the Chicago Eight, and his understanding that he would become the defense attorney for the 60s generation. He describes the confrontation, protest, and police brutality which brought about the trial, and the powerful prosecution the Chicago Eight would be up against. Citing questionable government tactics, secret communications, and a biased judge, Kunstler challenges the notion that the case was going to see a fair trial.

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Audio 2

Kunstler describes the comings and goings of the Chicago Eight trial. He describes the speaking engagements that financed his pro bono work, his need to be alone outside of the courtroom, and his realization that the government was successfully keeping his clients out of their political work with a lengthy trial. Kunstler begins to describe his childhood and focuses on his father, a doctor who practiced during the Great Depression.

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Audio 3

Continuing his train of thought, William Kunstler remembers his parents, as well as his siblings. He specifically talks about the rivalry he and his brother Michael had which continued throughout their undergraduate study, enlistment, and law school. Kunstler shares some humorous anecdotes from his school career and describes his choice to enlist and become a signal intelligence officer. While still enlisted, he married his first wife who accompanied him to his second post.

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Audio 4

Enlistment during WWII finds William Kunstler trying to perform signal intelligence while in the heat of battle. After the war, he attends Columbia Law School, still harboring a deep sibling rivalry with his brother Michael. After law school, he delves into his famous career as a civil rights lawyer. Eventually, he finds himself working on Morton Sobell's appeal case. Sobell had been tried for espionage along with the Rosenbergs.

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Audio 5

William Kunstler hears of the Freedom Riders, and champions their cause along with the ACLU. He describes his practice of movement law, law used in order to gain the political objectives of the defendants. Not only would he argue for the rights of his clients, but also argue for their causes in court.

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Audio 6

As Kunstler's career continues he takes on many more high profile cases he becomes acquainted with many influential figures of his time such as Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, congressman Adam Clayton Powell, and John Lennon. Kunstler remembers the Kent State shootings and what it meant to his generation. He remembers how he felt when he sawthe iconic photograph of a woman kneeling over one of the students who was killed during the shooting.

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Audio 7

In this chapter, Kunstler launches into detail about the Attica Prison Riot of 1971. Arguing for better and fair treatment in correctional facilities, the inmates seized control of the prison for four days. Under orders from the New York governor, state police took back control of the prison in a violent attack which left 39 people dead.

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Audio 8

William Kunstler talks about the contemporary justice system, corruption, and conflicts. He puts out a call to arms for defense lawyers to "fight fire with fire," and use the media to help win their battles. The constitutional rights of every citizen are worth fighting for, and Kunstler claims to be happy that always championed the "morally right" side of history.

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While our father lived in front of news cameras, we found our place behind the lens. We hope our film communicates that the world we inherit is better because someone struggled for justice, and that those changes will survive only if we continue to fight.”

— Sarah Kunstler, Filmmaker

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