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Johnson, Dwight A. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 51, Number 1 (Oct. 1949)

Badgers you should know,   pp. 34-[35]

Page 34

*Rac43e'ýt Vc 0aU gc ak/ iU4
   John M. Kelley, '29,
   Convictor of Axis Sally
   And Spy Judith Coplon
* Reprinted from the Washington (D. C.) Evening Star. Atty.
Kelley's name still hangs on his shingle on Fort Atkinson's
Main street along with that of City Atty. Harold C. Smith, '23-
Smith & Kelley.
   The success of John M. Kelley,
 Jr., in convicting Judith  Coplon
 after sending Axis Sally away for a
 long term, has given him a reputa-
 tion as a sure-fire prosecutor.
   The gaunt-often    called grim-
looking--justice department attor-
ney would not want to bear Ahe bur-
den of that label.
   Like every trial lawyer his dic-
tum is that "you never know what
a jury is going to do."
   He has done more than his share
to justify the jury system. In case
after case where he has been op-
posed by able, vigorous and success-
ful defense attorneys, the juries
have returned to the courtroom to
voice verdicts of guilty.
   The so-called grimness is foreign
to his Gaelic personality, but he does
believe that what goes on in a court-
room is pretty serious business.
  A CONSTANT ACTOR, he loves
to ham it before his friends with
selections from a wide repertory
ranging from    Orlando's lines in
"As You Like It" to a lecture by a
certain fictional social worker named
Miss Simpkins on the nursing of
  In the courtroom he plays the pros-
ecutor role convincingly.
   He varies his courtroom person-
 ality. In the Coplon case his oppo-
 nent tried to laugh off the prosecu-
 tion attack  by  clowning. Kelley
 countered by playing his role with
 supreme dignity.
   He was f r a n k about it-the
defense counsel, Archibald Palmer,
had him worried.
   "He gets the jury    laughing,"
 Kelley said, "and in a case where
 the charge is a serious one, that
 isn't good."
   Palmer was something new in the
 experience of the prosecutors. He
 made them so mad that their foot-
 work wasn't very good at first.
   Then Kelley accidently discovered
 how easy it was to annoy him.
 Kelley said something about "this
 man," not referring directly to Palm-
 er. The little lawyer from   New
 York bounced to his feet demand-
 ing that the judge order an apology
         "As You Like It"
  ATTORNEY KELLEY isn't done with
Judith Coplon and her boy friend
Gubitchev yet; he is scheduled to
prosecute them soon in New York on
another charge - conspiracy against
the US.
because the prosecutor had not re-
ferred to him by name.
  Palmer chose to sit near the jury
box instead of at the counsel table.
Kelley, a much taller man, would
stand in front of him; Palmer
would get up and peer around
Kelley, first one side and then the
  "Your honor," Kelley said re-
peatedly in a very superior tone,
"would you have this man remove
himself from my immediate vicin-
He had a different personality in
opposing James J. Laughlin in the
"Axis Sally" case. Laughlin tried
to impress the jury with the fact
that the government was paying
the expenses of the witnesses
brought from Germany.
  Kelley countered with superior in-
difference. He had an air of trying
to aid his opponent in trying to
bring out such details.
  In the case of James M. Curley,
brought to the bar on fraud charges
while both mayor of Boston and
member of Congress, Kelley was as-
sociated with William A. Paisley in
the prosecution.
  The Curley conviction was one
that brought great satisfaction to
the young prosecutor because the
defense counsel w a s William E.
Leahy, the old maestro of the dis-
trict bar.
  Leahy was Kelley's first legal op-
ponent in Washington-and Leahy
had set him down in defeat. That
was in a war frauds case in dis-
trict court. In defeating the young
challenger, Leahy taught him a lot
of courtxoom technique.
  Every man has a hero in his own
profession. Kelley's hero is Mr.
  Mr. Kelley's associates in the de-
partment say they know no one who
works harder in the preparation of
a case than Kelley.
  For months before the "Axis
Sally" trial he was at his office
until midnight every working day
listening to recordings of her broad-
casts from Radio Berlin to make the
selection that convicted her.
has the common touch. He figura-
tively climbs right into the jury box
and has a little chat with them
about the case before turning on the
heat regarding the importance of
doing their duty.
  He learned that back in Wiscon-
sin after attending UW, Columbia,
and Stetson in Florida.
  He hung up his shingle at Fort
Atkinson, 80 miles from Baraboo,
the town where he was born on Feb.
1, 1906. He was a Republican in
politics and became president of the
bar association there two years
after his arrival.
  The exposure of an abortion ring
in that rural county (Jefferson)
called for an able lawyer to try the
cases. The circuit judge appointed
Kelley special prosecutor. He got
the convictions.
  After Pearl Harbor, although he
was 36 and had four children,
Kelley wanted to go to war. The
army doctors said no. It was then
he applied for the job in the war
frauds section.
  Kelley usually starts his d a y
helping his wife pack four lunches
for the children to carry to the four
Catholic schools they attend and
then takes a bus to the department
-he has no automobile.
  He is likely to invite from one to
12 persons he meets after work to
come home to dinner without con-
sulting Mrs. Kelley. But that's all
right because he will do the cooking,
using ingredients he has purchased
on the way home.

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