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Robert Eugene Pincham was born in Chicago on June 25, 1925. In his 82 years he had accomplished much, standing up for “the little man” and challenging systems, making them better for all persons.
“Upon my graduation in June 1947, my college roommate, William Eaddy, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I ventured to New York where we worked as waiters. The fact of the matter is, during every summer from 1946 to 1951, I worked as a waiter in New York. In the summer of 1945, while I was enrolled in Tennessee State, I returned to Chicago where I lived with my father and obtained employment as a dining car waiter on the Santa Fe Railroad. I ran on the Super Chief, and all Pullman streamliner that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. I often tell the story that there were many a day that I walked from Chicago to Los Angeles, and from Los Angeles to Chicago, between the pantry and the dining area on the Super Chief’s dining car. ”
“ I was admitted to various other law schools — Stanford, Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, et al., but I chose to attend Northwestern for several reasons. Chicago was the direct route over the L & N & C & EI Railroads from my hometown in Athens, and I could easily get back and forth by freight trains. I learned the art of hopping freight trains when I was enrolled at Tennessee State. I would catch freight trains from Athens to Nashville and from Nashville to Athens during my attendance at Tennessee State.
“ Another reason I chose Northwestern was because during my high school days, I wrote a term paper on the Northwest Passage, and during my research I came across and wrote about how the City of Evanston, Illinois was founded and Northwestern University’s location there. I was intrigued by it ... ”
In the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, Chief Judge Posner and Judges Ripple, and Kanne ruled in 1996 that R. Eugene Pincham and other lawyers be reinstated to a case that had been in progress over 48 days. The ruling directed Judge Duff who felt publically disadvantaged by Judge Pincham and irritated by a legal team whom, he believed, failed to pick up work when the leading counsel, Judson Miner, was injured in an accident.
These members of the team were reinstated and the 48-day trial went forward into a relief phase that might otherwise have been complicated. Judge Duff had struck as attorneys the previously absent lawyers who were now to be reinstated to finish the trial.
Pincham and the other attorneys prevailed in challenging, under the equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act, Chicago’s 1992 ward map, on the ground that the map discriminated against blacks.
The many turns in this story kept the city edgy and rattled.Police at first secured confessions and contended that two boys, seven and eight years old, sexually molested and killed an eleven year old girl, Ryan Harris. Ryan was visiting from the south suburbs, the police said, and the boys, wanting her bicycle, stuffed her panties in her mouth, grass in one nostril, and leaves in another.
Semen, improbable from these boys, was later discovered and attributed to a local 29-year old convicted sexual molestor. He contended that he was innocent of the killing, but performed sexual acts on the fresh corpse, and had watched the boys.
The way in which the police handled this sensational case, especially by refusing to arrest the 29-year old, embittered and angered the Englewood community, historically distrustful of police.
R. Eugene Pincham represented one of the two boys, both finally exonerated.
In 1984 an innocent Steven Shores was convicted of killing security guard Garrison Hester two years earlier based on the testimony of two who later were judged to be the perpetrators. His release was scheduled in 2019!
Steven Shores was finally released from prison when the alternate southside Chicago suspects, members of the El Rukn’ gang, were convicted instead.
Evidence derived from a federal investigation allowed the persistent Shores to convince – after several appeals – the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to drop the case. Steven Shores did not admit guilt, but acknowledged that enough evidence existed to make a verdict of guilt likely in a different matter.