Leonard I. Weinglass (1933-2011) was a criminal defense attorney and constitutional law advocate. Over the course of his career, he represented political activists, government opponents, and criminal defendants— including Angela Davis, the Cuban Five, the Chicago Seven, the Pentagon Papers, and the death row appeals of Mumia Abu-Jamal—in a half century of politically significant cases. He was a longtime Guild member and served as Chair of the NLG International Committee.
Thanks to a generous bequest from the Weinglass estate, the NLG has established a fellowship for recent law graduates. Each year, one fellow will receive a stipend to work for the Guild on a specific civil rights or civil liberties project.
Max Suchan is a Chicago NLG member who will be spending 10 weeks working with the Chicago Community Bond Fund to increase volunteer capacity and help develop organizational strategies to end money bond. Max is a long-time abolitionist activist and first year lawyer. Since the age of 13, Max was involved in organizing against the second Iraq invasion in both grammar school and high school. In 2007, Max attended Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank, where he studied Arabic and politics while supporting Palestinian-led direct action against the occupation. After spending more than a year and a half in Palestine over several trips, Max was also a passenger on the U.S. Boat to Gaza as part of Freedom Flotilla II, which sought to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. In Fall 2011 and Spring 2012, Max worked with the Palestine Solidarity Project to co-organize a national U.S. speaking tour to highlight the cases of hundreds of Palestinian minors in Israeli military prisons and jails.
As an undergrad at Beloit College in Wisconsin, Max founded Beloit Books Behind Bars to send books and match student pen-pals with people in state prisons. He decided to go to law school in order to obtain a concrete skill-set to support liberation movements both here and abroad, and more effectively work for an end to mass incarceration. Max attended DePaul University School of Law, where he played a key role in NLG organizing on campus. In August 2014, Max traveled to Ferguson to support the uprising in the wake of the police killing of Michael Brown. There he was arrested as an NLG legal observer and he still faces municipal charges of interfering with a police officer.
Upon returning to Chicago, Max supported the family members of the DeSean Vigil 5, a group of Black residents who were beaten and arrested after Chicago police aggressively disrupted a community vigil following the police killing of 17-year-old DeSean Pittman. Max helped fundraise tens of thousands of dollars to bond everyone out of jail and match all arrestees with attorneys. These relationships and organizing gave birth to the Chicago Community Bond Fund, a nonprofit collective which works to abolish cash bond in Illinois, while simultaneously bonding individuals out of Cook County Jail to mitigate the severe harm of pre-trial detention. Since December 2015, CCBF has posted bond to free 27 people from jail or house arrest.
Max remains heavily involved with the Chicago NLG chapter as the local mass defense coordinator, a co-coordinator of the legal observer program, and a member of the Chicago board.