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Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, April 11, 1991. Interview L-0064-8. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    This is the eighth interview in a nine-part series of interviews with civil liberties lawyer Daniel H. Pollitt. In this interview, Pollitt outlines numerous civil liberties cases he argued over the course of his career as a lawyer. He begins by offering some brief comments regarding his early career in Washington, D.C., and enumerates some of the cases he argued alongside Joseph Rauh of Americans for Democratic Action. The majority of the interview, however, revolves around Pollitt's descriptions of some of the cases he argued after he became a professor of law at the University of North Carolina during the late 1950s. As Pollitt explains, he continued to practice law, primarily during the summer months, and that many of his cases came to him by way of the American Civil Liberties Union. Pollitt discusses two recent appellate cases, including the defense of a man he argues was wrongfully sentenced because of well-documented mental instability, and of a man named Millano, who Pollitt maintains was wrongfully accused and convicted of rape. In addition, Pollitt describes in some detail his defense of Wilbur Hobby, former president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO, who was convicted of fraudulent misuse of federal Comprehensive Education and Training Act funds during the 1980s, and New Jersey Congressman Frank Thompson, who was implicated in the FBI Abscam sting operation of the early 1980s. Although the Thornton appeal was still in process at the time of the interview (1991), Pollitt had lost the other three appeals. Pollitt also cites some of his civil liberties successes, namely his defense of the North Carolina Central University student newspaper on issues of free speech, and his work on behalf of academic freedom via the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) during his tenure at UNC. Throughout the interview, Pollitt asserts that he always believed in his clients and saw it as his duty to defend people against wrongful violations of their civil liberties.
    Excerpts
  • The making of a civil liberties lawyer
  • The defense of Wilbur Hobby, former president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO
  • Defending freedom of speech for the NCCU student newspaper
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  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.