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Boston lawyer William P. Homans Jr. devoted his fifty-year career to the defense of the poor and downtrodden, the protection of our most basic civil liberties, and the abolition of the death penalty. Descendant of two of Boston's oldest and most prominent families, and combat veteran of both the British and American Navies during World War II, Homans became unlikely guru to the 1960s generation of radical lawyers and antiwar activists. He was on the defense team in the 1968 conspiracy trial of Dr. Benjamin Spock and four other leading opponents of the Vietnam War accused of aiding and abetting resistance to the military draft, and represented Dr. Kenneth Edelin in the 1975 manslaughter prosecution arising out of a lawful abortion performed after Roe v. Wade. The narrative contrasts Bill Homans' storied legal career with a troubled personal life in a balanced but unvarnished manner, testifying to the strength of the human spirit when committed to the pursuit of the common good. About the author: Mark S. Brodin is Professor of Law at Boston College Law School and the author of numerous books and law journal articles in the areas of civil and criminal procedure, evidence, litigation, and employment discrimination. A graduate of Columbia College (1969) and Columbia Law School (1972), he served as law clerk to United States District Judge Joseph L. Tauro and staff attorney with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in Boston. He has also practiced for brief periods as a public defender in Boston and a prosecutor in Norfolk County.


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  • Subject
    • Civil Rights and Discrimination

    • Courts

    • Criminal Law

    • Legal History

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022

  • Keywords