Zagel, James B. 1941–

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Zagel, James B. 1941–

(J.S. Block, James Zagel, James Block Zagel)

PERSONAL: Born March 4, 1941, in Chicago, IL; son of Samuel and Ethel (Samuels) Zagel; married Margaret Maxwell, May 27, 1979. Education: University of Chicago, B.A., 1962, M.A., 1962; Harvard Law School, J.D., 1965.

ADDRESSES: Office—U.S. District Court, 219 Dearborn St., Ste. 2588, Chicago, IL 60604-1801.

CAREER: Federal judge, author, and actor. Admitted to the Bar of the State of Illinois, 1965, U.S. District Court of Illinois, 1965, U.S. Supreme Court of Illinois, 1970, and U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1972. Cook County, IL, assistant state attorney, 1965–69; State of Illinois, Springfield, assistant attorney general in criminal justice division), 1970–77; Illinois Judiciary Inquiry Board, Springfield, chief prosecuting attorney, 1973–75; Illinois Law Enforcement Commission, Springfield, executive director, 1977–79; Illinois Department of Revenue, Springfield, director, 1979–80; Illinois Department of State Police, Springfield, director, 1980–87; U.S. District Court of Illinois, Chicago, judge, 1987–. Actor, under name J.S. Block, in films Music Box, TriStar Pictures, 1989; and Homicide, Triumph Releasing, 1991. Consultant and assistant for films Weeds, De Laurentiis Company, 1987; and Miracle on 34th Street, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1994.

MEMBER: Chicago Bar Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Outstanding Young Citizen Award, Chicago Jaycees, 1977; Distinguished Service Merit Award, Association of Commerce and Industry, 1983.


(As James Zagel) Confessions and Interrogations after Miranda: A Comprehensive Guideline of the Law, National District Attorneys Association (Chicago, IL), 1970.

(With Fred E. Inbau and James R. Thompson) Criminal Law and Its Administration, Foundation Press (Mineola, NY), 1974, 3rd edition, 1980.

(With Fred E. Inbau and James R. Thompson) 1976 Supplement to Criminal Law and Its Administration, 2nd edition, Foundation Press (Mineola, NY), 1976.

(Editor, with others) Criminal Procedure: Cases and Comments, 5th edition, Foundation Press (Mineola, NY), 1998, 6th edition, 2003.

(Editor, with others) Criminal Procedure: 1999 Supplement Cases and Comments, 5th edition, Foundation Press (Mineola, NY), 1999.

(As James Zagel) Money to Burn (novel), G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to earlier editions of Criminal Procedure: Cases and Comments, Foundation Press (Mineola, NY).

SIDELIGHTS: James B. Zagel has led a distinguished legal career that includes appointments to the U.S. Court of Appeals and the Illinois Supreme Court. As one would expect, the federal judge has published works on the law, its administration, and landmark cases that have affected the United States legal system. However, Zagel's work beyond the bench has also earned him much attention.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Zagel moonlighted as an actor, appearing in two films under the pseudonym J.S. Block. The judge also worked as a consultant for films, including the remake of the holiday favorite Miracle on 34th Street. In 2002, Zagel continued to entertain people—this time using his authorial skills—with a novel about a judge plotting to rob the federal government of millions of dollars.

Zagel's debut fiction work, Money to Burn, is the story of Judge Paul Devine, whose life is torn apart when his beloved wife dies. The judge blames her death, in part, on Redding Prindiville, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank who tarnished Devine's wife's legal career. Thoughts of revenge run rampant inside Devine's mind until he comes up with the perfect plan to humiliate Prindiville. Along with his firefighter best friend and a pair of married bank guards, Devine devises a plan to steal a hundred million dollars right out from under Prindiville's nose.

A contributor to Publishers Weekly noted that Zagel's characters are "sharply rendered," and a writer for Kirkus Reviews called the novel "a deft, elegantly written tour de force." Though the author used the real Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago as a blueprint for the bank in his novel, Business Week writer Joseph Weber explained that Zagel "changed some crucial details" to ensure that his book did not become a how-to guide for criminals.



Business Week, September 23, 2002, Joseph Weber, "Want to Break into the Chicago Fed?," review of Money to Burn, p. 14.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of Money to Burn, p. 452.

Publishers Weekly, May 13, 2002, review of Money to Burn, p. 50.
[Sketch reviewed by secretary, Anne Wolf.]