German lawyer who sued Hitler is topic of public defender's bio

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Douglas Morris, a veteran public defender in Brooklyn, has spent most of his legal career helping people in trouble and fighting for the principle of fairness.

Somehow, over the past nine years, while defending scores of defendants in federal court, Morris found the time to research and write a biography of anti-Nazi lawyer Max Hirschberg, whose case files included tangling with none other than Adolf Hitler in a libel suit.

"What I found so moving about this man and his life was his response to practicing [law] under very trying and challenging conditions, was to ferret out the truth while arguing for his clients," said Morris.

The result is "Justice Imperiled; the Anti-Nazi Lawyer Max Hirschberg in Weimar Germany" (University of Michigan Press), a book that also completed Morris' doctorate in history from the University of Rochester.

Morris, 51, had considered becoming a historian since he was a teen growing up in Roslyn, L.I. He learned to speak German fluently and studied German history.

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