James J. Laughlin

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James J. Laughlin was the defense attorney for Edward James Smythe and Robert Noble at the Great Sedition Trial of 1944.[1] During the trial he received a contempt of court citation.[2]

One tactic use in defense of his clients was to ask the court to impound all ADL files so he could do a thorough discovery process. Since the ADL provided most of the intelligence and research for the prosecution, Laughlin deemed it necessary to determine what was provided. Judge Edward C. Eicher refused the request.[3]

On July 5, 1944 James Laughlin was barred from the sedition trial because he sought the impeachment of the presiding judge Edward C. Eicher.[4]

Laughlin was the defense attorney for Mildred Gillars, a woman nicknamed “Axis Sally” who had made propaganda broadcasts for Germany during the war. Gillars was charged with eight counts of treason and convicted on one.


  1. American Political Trials, by Michal R. Belknap, page 186.
  2. “Defendant Found Dead” Pittsburg Post-Gazette, May 5, 1944
  3. Confronting Right-wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA, by George Michael, page 137
  4. “Sedition Case Lawyer Loses Trial Rights”, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, July 6, 1944
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