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conspiracy retrial
Insanity Retrial
habeas corpus
alton school cases

follow link to Surratt retrial page

The Retrial of Mary Surratt

In 1865, Mary Surratt was charged with being a co-conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. In her boarding house, she “kept the nest that hatched the egg.” A military tribunal found her guilty and sentenced her to death by hanging. She was the first woman in U.S.history to be executed.

follow link to Lincoln retrial page

The Insanity Retrial of Mary Todd Lincoln (2012)

In 1875, Robert Lincoln petitioned to have his mother Mary Lincoln, the widow of martyred president Abraham Lincoln, declared insane. A Cook County, Illinois, jury found her to be insane, and she was institutionalized at the Bellevue Asylum in Batavia for one year.

follow link to Smith retrial page

Habeas Corpus Hearings of Joseph Smith (2013)

From 1841 to 1843, Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, was involved in three habeas corpus hearings to prevent his extradition to Missouri to face charges there. He won all three cases in three different jurisdictions: state, federal, and municipal courts.

follow link to School Segregation retrial page

The Alton School Cases

From 1897 to 1908, Scott Bibb, an African American firefighter, resisted the newly imposed segregation of the Alton school system. He won all five appeals at the Illinois Supreme Court but lost the larger issue as the Alton schools remained segregated for nearly fifty years after the cases.

follow link to Historic Cases Project

Historic Cases Project

The Historic Cases Project will utilize local officials and historians to search Illinois county courthouse records to uncover famous, important, and representative cases and to publish the images on the Internet to commemorate the bicentennial of the state in 2018. In addition, the project will publish a guide book on how to produce a presentation on a legal case.

History on Trial is a series of presentations highlighting important but relatively unknown lawsuits in Illinois and American history. The purpose is to demonstrate that the law is a living, breathing element of society, and these cases continue to have relevance today.

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Have a Question

Feel free to contact us about our Retrial Collection or upcoming retrials. We try to plan for these events 6-12 months in advance. If you have an idea, or think a certain subject matter would make for a retrail, let us know.

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About the Commission

Since 2009 we have been collecting, archiving, and researching the history of the Illinois Judiciary.


Honorable James R Thompson, Chairman
Honorable Kirk W Dillard
Kim B. Fox
Pauline Montgomery
Joseph A Power, Jr
William J Quinlan
Jane Hayes Rader
J. William Roberts
Michael J Tardy, Ex-officio