March 14, 2024 6:00pm — 7:00pm

A 21st-Century Reconsideration of Leopold and Loeb
Photo caption:  Mary Field Parton - Clarence Darrow papers, 1909-1975 collection at the Newberry Library

Please note: This program will be held in-person at the Newberry Library and livestreamed on Zoom. The online version of this event will be live captioned.

Thursday, March 3, 2024 
6:00 - 7:00 PM CST
Newberry Library
60 West Walton Street
This program is free and open to all
Listen to the program HERE

May 2024 marks the centenary of the murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, whose sentencing hearing in the summer of 1924 riveted Chicago and the world. With Cook County State’s Attorney Robert Crowe demanding the execution of the confessed murderers, celebrated attorney Clarence Darrow stepped in to lead the defense, making history with his use of psychiatric testimony and his impassioned arguments against the death penalty.

One hundred years later, this program will recreate the prosecution, defense, and sentencing of Leopold and Loeb through the lens of twenty-first-century ideas about juvenile criminal justice, as a panel of legal and psychiatric experts presents how they would approach the case if the trial were to take place today.

Introductions: Anita Weinberg, Nina Barrett


State's Attorney: Eric Sussman
Defense Attorney: Dean Strang
Forensic Psychologist: Antoinette Kavanaugh
Judge: Colleen Sheehan

Cosponsored by the Clarence Darrow Commemorative CommitteeChicago Collections Consortium, and Agate Publishing.


Nina Barrett, a graduate of both Yale University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, is the author of three books and numerous articles, essays, and reviews. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and The Nation, among other publications. In 2009, she curated an exhibition for Northwestern called The Murder That Wouldn’t Die, which inspired her book, The Leopold and Loeb Files: An Intimate Look at One of America’s Most Infamous Crimes. Barrett is also the founder and owner of Bookends & Beginnings, an independent bookstore in Evanston.

Antoinette Kavanaugh is a licensed, board-certified forensic clinical psychologist with over twenty years of experience providing case evaluation and consultation in juvenile, criminal, civil, and capital cases worldwide. She works with lawyers on both sides of the bar and is often sought out for her sensitivity to factors such as culture, gender, class, and trauma. Her specialties include false or disputed confessions, competency, capital litigation, juvenile issues, Miranda evaluations, resentencing evaluations, and the psychological impact of wrongful convictions.

Colleen Sheehan was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Juvenile Justice Committee, the Committee on Education, and the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Judicial College. Judge Sheehan also led a team of community and criminal justice stakeholders to design and implement the Restorative Justice Community Court in Cook County. Judge Sheehan retired in 2019 and continues her work in Restorative and Juvenile Justice as a consultant with ReDeploy Illinois, an organization that seeks to reduce juvenile incarceration.

Eric Sussman is a partner at Barnes & Thornburg in Chicago, where he practices white-collar law. Previously he served as the First Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, where he supervised more than eight hundred lawyers and investigators in the criminal, appellate, and juvenile justice bureaus, as well as the civil actions bureau. He also served as a federal prosecutor, where he was  Deputy Chief for Financial Crimes and Special Prosecutions in the US Attorney’s Office in Chicago.

Dean A. Strang is a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a criminal defense lawyer. He is known for his work defending wrongfully convicted Steven Avery, documented in Netflix’s Making a Murderer. Strang also has written two books of legal history, Keep the Wretches in Order: America's Biggest Mass Trial, the Rise of the Justice Department, and the Fall of the IWW, and Worse Than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror. He was Wisconsin’s first Federal Defender and has argued before the US Supreme Court, five US Courts of Appeal, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

This program is being held in partnership with CCC founding member the Newberry Library.