The Trials of Lenny Bruce: A Chronology

Most of the facts reported on this page are taken from the best source of information on the Bruce trials, the recent book by Ronald Collins and David Skover, Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon (Sourcebooks, 2002).
For more information on the book by Collins and Skover, see:
The Trials of Lenny Bruce : The Fall and Rise of an American Icon.

October 13, 1925
Leonard Schneider (known as Lenny Bruce after 1947, when he changed his name) is born in Mineola, New York.
Bruce is discharged from the army for wearing women's clothing
Bruce, at the time performing a fairly standard burlesque-comedian routine, appears on the nationally broadcast Arthur Godfrey Show.
Bruce's comedy begins to take on more of an edge as he works southern California strip joints.  On one occasion, Bruce does a shoe wearing only black socks.
June 24, 1957
The Supreme Court decides the important obscenity case of Roth v United States.  The Roth decision, written by Justice William Brennan, will play a key role in Bruce's later obscenity trials.
April 9, 1959
Bruce appears on the Steve Allen show, his first nationally broadcast television appearance.
September 29, 1961
Bruce is arrested in Philadelphia for possession of narcotics.
October 4, 1961
Bruce is arrested on obscenity charges after performing at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco.  After booking, he goes back to the club for a late-night show.
November 17, 1961
Bruce's first obscenity trial begins in San Francisco.  The judge fails to advise Bruce of his right to counsel at the arraignment.
  March 5, 1962
After Bruce's motion for a new trial is granted (based on the failure to inform him of his right to counsel), a second municipal trial opens before Judge Clayton Horn, to whom the case has been reassigned..
   March 8, 1962
Bruce is acquitted in his San Francisco obscenity trial, based in large part on the favorable instructions of Judge Horn.  Judge Horn's instructions offer a liberal interpretation of the Supreme Court case, Roth v United States.
October 24, 1962
Bruce is arrested on obscenity charges for a performance the night before at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, California.
December 5, 1962
Bruce is arrested on obscenity charges in Chicago after a week of performances at The Gate of Horn.
December 28, 1962
The Troubadour obscenity trial opens in Beverly Hills, California.
February 12, 1963
Bruce is arrested on obscenity charges following a performance at The Unicorn in Los Angeles.
February 13, 1963
The Troubadour and Unicorn obscenity trials are consolidated and jury selection begins.
February 15, 1963
After listening to tapes of Bruce's Troubadour and Unicorn performances, the jury in his obscenity trial deadlocks 7 to 5 (the majority favoring acquittal).  A mistrial is declared.
February 18, 1963
The Gate of Horn obscenity trial opens in Chicago.  Bruce acts as his own counsel.
February 23, 1963
Bruce is arrested on a narcotics charge in Los Angeles taxi cab during a recess in his Chicago trial.  Facing felony drug charges in California, Bruce is unable to return to Chicago for the rest of his trial, which proceeds in his absence.
February 28, 1963
After one hour of deliberations, the jury in Bruce's Gate of Horn obscenity trial returns a guilty verdict. 
March 12, 1963
Bruce sends a telegram to the judge in the Gate of Horn trial, Judge Daniel Ryan, accusing him of "illegal, unconstitutional, and most fascistic...behavior" for trying him in abstentia. 
March 19, 1963
After Judge Ryan in Chicago sentences Bruce to one year in jail, Illinois sends a fugitive warrant to California requesting Bruce's extradition.
April 3, 1963
Bruce flies to Chicago where he requests and is granted an appeal bond, allowing him to remain free until his appeals of his conviction are decided.
April 13, 1963
After attempting to perform at The Establishment in London, Bruce is seized by police and taken to the London airport, where he is deported the next day.
June 20, 1963
Bruce is ordered confined at the State Rehabilitation Center at Chico, California for treatment of his drug addiction.
March 19, 1964
Bruce is arrested on obscenity charges for performances given over the previous three weeks at The Talley Ho is Los Angeles.  He is released on $500 bail and returns for another show at The Talley Ho.
March 31, 1964
License Department Inspector Herbert Ruhe attends Bruce's performance at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village and later submits a report on the show to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
April 1, 1964
Four vice squad officers attend and record Bruce's 10 P. M. show at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York City.
April 3, 1964
Bruce and Howard Solomon are arrested on obscenity charges in the dressing room of the Cafe Au Go Go shortly before Bruce was to go on stage for his 10 P. M. performance. 
April 4, 1964
Bruce pleads not guilty to the obscenity charges and is released on $1000 bail.  He returns to the Cafe Au Go Go to perform before a capacity crowd.
April 7, 1964
Bruce, who continued to perform at the Cafe Au Go Go following his arrest three days earlier, is again arrested on obscenity charges.
April 23, 1964
Bruce is hospitalized for pleurisy and his Cafe Au Go Go trial is postponed.
May 21, 1964
In Los Angeles, Muncipal Court Judge Bernard Selber dismisses Bruce's Talley Ho obscenity charges, citing Roth v United States.
June 13, 1964
Various celebritites (including actors, musicians, authors, journalists, and scientists) sign a petition in defense of Bruce.  Signers include Paul Newman, Bob Dylan, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, and Elizabeth Taylor.
June 16, 1964
Bruce's Cafe Au Go Go obscenity trial opens in New York Criminal Court before a panel of three judges..
June 17, 1964
Tapes of Bruce's April 1 and April 7 performances at the Cafe Au Go Go are played in court.
June 18, 1964
The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously affirms Bruce's Gate of Horn obscenity conviction in People v Bruce.  Bruce is again hospitalized with pleurisy, and his trial is recessed until June 30.
June 30, 1964
The defense moves to dismiss the prosecution against Bruce on constitutional grounds.  The defense begins its case, which will include eighteen witnesses (most called to prove Bruce's act had significant redeeming social value)..
July 7, 1964
The Illinois Supreme Court vacates its June decision in People v Bruce, asking for new arguments in view of the U. S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Jacobellis v Ohio.
July 28, 1964
Final day of the Cafe Au Go Go obscenity trial.
November 4, 1964
Bruce is found guilty in the Cafe Au Go Go trial by a 2 to 1 vote of the three-judge panel.  Howard Solomon is also found guilty.
November 24, 1964
The Illinois Supreme Court reverses Bruce's obscenity conviction in People v Bruce, the Gate of Horn obscenity case.
December 14, 1964
A New York federal district court rejects Bruce's request for prospective injunctive relief against New York prosecutors and judges in the case of Bruce v Hogan.
December 21, 1964
At his sentencing hearing in the New York Cafe Au Go Go case, Bruce addresses  the court for over an hour.  Bruce is sentenced to "four months in the workhouse."
February 11, 1965
Bruce files a second civil action for damages against the district attorney's offices in New York for allegedly violating his constitutional rights.
June 1, 1965
The U. S. Supreme Court denies Bruce's request for certiorari in the case of Bruce v Hogan.
October 1965
Bruce is declared bankrupt.
August 3, 1966
Bruce dies of a morphine overdose in Hollywood Hills, California.
February 19, 1968
In People v Solomon, a New York appeals court reverses the obscenity conviction of Bruce's co-defendant in the Cafe Au Go Go case, Howard Solomon.  (Bruce's conviction stands, since he died before his appeal was perfected.)
January 7, 1970
The New York Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) affirms the overturning of Howard Solomon's conviction in People v Solomon.
December 23, 2003
New York Governor George Pataki grants a posthumous pardon to Lenny Bruce.
The Lenny Bruce Trial