Question: One of America’s most well-known lawyers of the 20th century was Melvin Belli, a dapper, flamboyant, eloquent trial lawyer from San Francisco who represented some of the century’s biggest names. Why in the world was he in Pekin and Tazewell County court in 1967?
Answer: Busted that year in East Peoria at a Holiday Inn was the popular rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock (biggest hit: “Incense & Peppermints”) that had performed in Peoria and then got raided in their motel room by eight police officers who found a bag of marijuana in their room. The band called Belli, who eventually saw that the charges were dropped. One other interesting note: The prosecutor of the case was a 29-year-old, little-known Tazewell County attorney at the time — Jay Janssen, who today is a noteworthy 83-year-old lawyer in Peoria.