Defending a Citizen’s Rights

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San Francisco is very photogenic. And our hometown has been the setting for many films and tv shows. In 1962 and 1963, we could watch 28 episodes of a lawyer-in-The-City show that was based on a real San Francisco lawyer.

Here is a clip from “Sam Benedict,” starring film and tv actor Edmond O’Brien:

Have you guessed the name of the real-life lawyer? Hint: It is not Melvin Belli. It is Jacob W. Ehrlich. He also served as the “technical consultant” for the show. His motto was, “never plead guilty.” He had many celebrity clients.

Here he is as Johnny Carson’s guest on the Tonight Show:

In 2010, a movie was made about the obscenity case against the poem “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, proprietor of City Lights Books, was prosecuted for distributing obscene material. Ehrlich defended Ferlinghetti. Jon Hamm, of tv’s “Mad Men” fame, portrayed Ehrlich in this film.

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