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About Albert Ernest Jenner, Jr.
Albert Ernest Jenner, Jr. (June 20, 1907–September 18, 1988) was an American lawyer and one of the name partners at the law firm of Jenner & Block. He served as assistant counsel to the Warren Commission; as a member of the U.S. National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence; and as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate Scandal.
Jenner was born in Chicago—his father was a police officer with the Chicago Police Department. Jenner attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (B.A. 1929). To help pay his way through college, Jenner earned money by competing as a professional boxer. He was also the circulation editor at the Daily Illini. It was while working on the Daily Illini that Jenner met his future wife, Nadine Newbill.
After college, he studied at the University of Illinois College of Law, receiving his LL.B. in 1930. Following law school, he served as the reporter for the Illinois Civil Practice Act. He joined the firm of Poppenheusen, Johnston, Thompson and Cole (the precursor of Jenner & Block) in 1933 and became a partner of the firm in 1939. Jenner thrived at the firm and, in 1947, at age 40, he became the president of the Illinois State Bar Association. He would later go on to serve as the eighth president of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Years as prominent attorney
In his practice at Poppenheusen, Johnston, Thompson and Cole, Jenner would develop relationships with several prominent clients, most notably General Dynamics. Already by the 1940s, Jenner had become the top earner at the firm. In 1955, he was rewarded by becoming a name partner at the firm. (The firm eventually became known as "Jenner & Block" in 1964.) As a lawyer, Jenner was dedicated to pro bono work and, in the 1960s, he supported partner Prentice Marshall's efforts to found Jenner & Block's pro bono program, one of the first in the country.
In the early 1950s, President Harry S. Truman appointed Jenner to the Civil Service Commission Loyalty Review Board, which had been established by Executive Order 9835 in 1947.
In 1960, the Supreme Court of the United States appointed Jenner to the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a post he would hold until 1970.
Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jenner was named as assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, in which capacity he was responsible for investigating the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, and, determining if there was any evidence of others involved in a conspiracy for the Commission.
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court named Jenner chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Evidence—he would continue in this post until 1975.
In 1968, Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Jenner to the U.S. National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, which Johnson established in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy to study the causes of violence in the U.S.
1968 also saw Jenner argue his first major case at the U.S. Supreme Court, Witherspoon v. Illinois. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witherspoon_v._Illinois
In the following years, he would argue Mills v. Electric Auto-Lite (1970); Reliance Electric Co. v. Emerson Electric Co. (1972); Gonzales v. Automatic Employees Credit Union (1974); and Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for the United States of America and Canada v. Milivojevich (1976). Jenner himself was mentioned as a preferred candidate for the Supreme Court by Johnson's Secretary of Defense, Clark Clifford, over Johnson's choice, Homer Thornberry. With the impending retirement of Chief Justice Earl Warren, Johnson hoped to elevate Associate Justice Abe Fortas to that post and Thornberry to Fortas' seat. Clifford thought Jenner would be a more acceptable candidate for Senate Republicans than Thornberry and help make them more amenable to Fortas as Chief Justice. Fortas' nomination was derailed by various scandals and withdrawn, which also ended Thornberry's nomination.
Jenner participated in the investigation into the 1969 bribery scandal at the Supreme Court of Illinois involving Chief Justice Roy Solfisburg and former Chief Justice Ray Klingbiel.
In 1973, the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee named Jenner as the Committee's Chief Minority Counsel. During this time, Jenner fought (successfully) against Senator Ted Kennedy's attempt to appoint a Boston Municipal Court judge whom Jenner thought was unqualified, as a federal judge. However, the most notable thing that happened while Jenner was at the House Judiciary Committee was the Committee's investigations into the Watergate allegations against Richard Nixon. Jenner was ultimately forced to resign as special counsel when he recommended the impeachment of Nixon, which is somewhat ironic since the Republicans on the Committee ultimately voted in favor of impeachment.
A longtime opponent of the House Un-American Activities Committee, Jenner played a role in its 1975 abolition after he filed a First Amendment challenge to HUAC in response to its investigation of Dr. Jeremiah Stamler, a prominent Chicago heart researcher.
In the course of his career, Jenner also served as: a director of General Dynamics; as a permanent member of the editorial board of the Uniform Commercial Code; and as the chairman of the Committee on the Federal Judiciary of the American Bar Association. He also served on the Board of Governors of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; as the president of the American Judicature Society; and as president of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
The University of Illinois College of Law bestowed an honorary doctorate on Jenner in 1981. In 1982, Jenner endowed a professorship at the University of Illinois College of Law. The University of Illinois College of Law's library is also named in his honor.
Jenner died in 1988. His funeral was held at Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago. Illinois Governor Jim Thompson delivered a eulogy at the funeral. In that eulogy, Gov. Thompson said
“ When the soul of our nation was torn by the assassination of a president, our nation reached out to Bert Jenner. And when the fabric of our Constitution was threatened by the actions of a president, our nation reached out to Bert Jenner. When the wounds were deep and grievous for all Americans, when some impoverished soul was threatened, when some unpopular cause would have been extinguished but for the bravery and perseverance of that man, they all reached out for Bert Jenner. ”
“ THE ORDEAL OF LESTER CROWN - The New York Times New York Times - Dec 7, 1986 "Meanwhile, seven officers and employees of Material Service were padding their expense accounts -at the direction of Crown, according to the Government report - and reimbursing their boss. The project was cut short when Material Service was subpoenaed by a Federal grand jury investigating corruption in the industry. The family turned to Albert E. Jenner Jr., a lawyer and longtime friend who is on the board of General Dynamics. Whenever the kids got into trouble, Jenner says, they never bothered the old man. They talked to me, and I got them out of trouble. In return for his cooperation with the grand jury, Lester Crown was granted immunity from prosecution." ” Jenner's most prominent client was Henry Crown, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice and former U.S. Attorney General, Tom C. Clark and Dean Acheson were the two men Earl Warren named as supporting the selection of Jenner as a Senior Assistant Investigative Counsel of the Warren Commission investigation. Jenner was appointed and performed the "Area III" assignment, "Lee Harvey Oswald's Background."
The appointment of Jenner to investigate whether Oswald, and by extension, also Oswald's murderer, Jack Ruby, acted alone or conspired with others remains controversial.
It is commonly known that Albert E. Jenner, Jr., in the late 1960s, was the criminal defense attorney for Allen Dorfman, a close associate of longtime IBT President Jimmy Hoffa. Dorfman was convicted on several felony counts, and was violently murdered in 1983.
However, in 1953 Congressional Committee Hearings on Labor Racketeering, Jenner also represented Chicago Electrical Workers Local 1031 business manager, M. Frank Darling, while he was under investigation for paying the inexperienced, newly opened insurance brokerage owned by Allen Dorfman, his father Paul Dorfman, and his mother Rose, millions of dollars of funds paid to Local 1031 by employers per union contract agreements, in exchange for health insurance coverage of Local 1031's union members. Stanford Clinton was counsel for the Dorfmans. Jenner explained to the Committee and its counsel that Mr. Darling did not understand the concept of a retention rate related to excess health insurance premiums paid to the Dorfmans. During that same hearing, Jimmy Hoffa challenged Jenner's client, Darling's claim of inability to understand retention percentage. Darling had permitted the Dorfmans a 100 percent retention of excess premiums paid, while the Committee was critical of Jimmy Hoffa allowing the Dorfmans to retain just 17-1/2 percent of excess Teamsters Union paid premiums.
Minutes of a 1982 State of New Jersey Casino Control Commission hearing (From page 471) related to an application by a Pritzker family affiliated business, to obtain a hotel-casino license, revealed that Stanford Clinton was, for a long period, attorney for the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund. Also disclosed was that Clinton was a law partner of the Pritzker family law firm, that Jimmy Hoffa praised Stanford Clinton's legal work, and that, to avoid conflict of interests when the Pritzker family applied for hotel development loans from the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund, Jenner's law firm, Thompson, Raymond, Mayer, Jenner was representing the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund when the Pritzker family requested loans from that Teamsters Pension Fund.(From page 471)
Although the FBI questioned Paul Dorfman and confirmed Dorfman's association with Jack Ruby, (see Warren Commission exhibit CE 1279) there is nothing in the Warren Commission Report about Jenner's legal representation of Dorfman insurance brokerage client, M. Frank Darling, or about Jenner's law firm's cooperation with Stanford Clinton in representing the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund, linked in the above cited, 1982 New Jersey report, to Allen Dorfman.
In 1946, fearing for his life, Chicago organized crime leader James M. Ragen contacted Clark through newspaper columnist Drew Pearson to obtain the protection of federal agents in exchange for information. A dozen FBI agents were sent to Chicago to interrogate Ragen. After checking and confirming the details of mob activity provided by Ragen, Tom Clark withdrew Ragen's FBI protection for lack of federal jurisdiction to prosecute the suspects Ragen named. Almost immediately, Ragen was seriously wounded by gunfire. Several suspects were arrested but no one was prosecuted due to the disappearance of some witnesses and the lack of cooperation of others. Ragen's condition was improving after the shooting, but he died suddenly in the hospital of mercury poisoning. Drew Pearson hinted in his syndicated column in October 1963 that Clark had told him that the FBI confirmed Ragen's accusations of Chicago mob control by leading businessmen and politicians. This was confirmed in the posthumous publication, eleven years later, of Drew Pearson's Diaries, 1949–1959; Tom Clark had told Pearson that Ragen stated that Henry Crown, the Hilton Hotels chain, and Walter Annenberg controlled the mob.
Despite the disturbing information about Henry Crown, et al., Drew Pearson claimed was provided to him by Clark in 1946, Justice Tom Clark appointed Crown's son, John, as one of two of his 1956 Supreme Court session law clerks. In December 1963, when Chief Justice Earl Warren, acting as head of the newly formed Presidential Commission investigating the death of President Kennedy, suggested the appointment to the Warren Commission of Henry Crown's attorney, Albert E. Jenner, Jr., at that time, Jenner's law firm employed Crown's son, John Crown, as a law associate, and later as a law partner.
Henry Crown and his close friend, Sam Nanini, were reported in March 1977 to have had relationships with organized crime.
As Attorney General, Tom Clark was accused of impropriety in the early parole of convicted Chicago crime boss, Louis Campagna and three others. Sam Nanini wrote a letter in 1947 to the federal bureau of prisons advocating parole for Campagna.