NAPD Remembers Marshall J. Hartman, a Public Defense Trailblazer
On September 21, 2021 Marshall J Hartman died. To say he was a giant in the public defense world is not hyperbole, but not nearly enough. A winner of many well-deserved awards, he graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1957 and began his remarkable career when he was hired as the only lawyer probation officer at the Juvenile Court of Cook County. He was promoted to assistant to the presiding judge of the juvenile court and ultimately head of the legal department.
Marshall worked for the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, where he became administrator of the appeals division and successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He drafted legislation that would ultimately create the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender (OSAD). He later served as executive director of the Criminal Defense Consortium of Cook County, and was general counsel and project director for the National Defender Institute in Washington, D.C.
He went on to be Chief Public Defender of Lake County, an office that received national recognition under his leadership. Finally, he joined a branch of the agency he helped create, OSAD, where he was first its Deputy Director, and then Director of the Capital Litigation Division until his retirement in 2003.
That is the resume, but not the man. Innovative, creative and argumentative he made everything he wrote or argued the best it could possibly be. I should know about those characteristics; I was Director of the Capital Litigation Division and he was my deputy, before I left to become a clinical law professor. Every policy we came up with, every death row inmate we represented and every lawyer we trained would come under the watchful, critical yet supportive eye of Marshall, including yours truly.
Those of us who had the privilege of knowing him or working with him learned so much. Those of us who were able to call him a friend, as I was honored to do, gained from his insights, his sense of humor and his true abiding love for humankind.
There are some Marshall traits that were less than laudatory; for example, he was a terrible driver. The first and only time I let him drive me, we went out to lunch, he with a casebook open on his lap looking to see if he had correctly told me about the dissent in Payne v. Tennessee, reading talking to me with his head turned towards me all while driving. After we left lunch, I offered to drive us back. “Funny” he said “People are always kindly offering to drive me.” He chuckled.
Once when I came into work after a big snow, he asked how I was and I explained I was tired from shoveling snow. He shook his head. “What?” I asked. “I don’t do that.” He replied. “God puts it down in the winter, and God takes it up in the spring.”
He also was a man of faith. His identity as a Jewish man informed all that he did. I remember right before he was about to do an oral argument in a death row case, him telling me sotto voce, that he had asked God to help him with this one, and he “would do the next one himself”.
Anyone who needed his help in our community would get it. Anyone who was struggling with the work, a client or a court, could count on him to buoy you up. He never lost patience with clients who asked the same question over and over, or families who were trying to deal with their fear, embarrassment and/or grief.
Marshall Hartman accomplished a lot. Many times people refer to someone who has recently passed away as having “a life well lived”. It actually applies to him. He will be missed. He will be remembered. And he is loved.