Saturday, March 19, 2016

Chicago Seven Trial defendants indicted in Chicago IL March 20 1969 - artwork by Howard Brodie in the collection of the Library of Congress

In 1969 Howard Brodie, the dean of courtroom art and revered artist from CBS news, covered the Chicago Seven trial. He had covered the infamous Jack Ruby trial 5 years prior to this case.

The original eight defendants indicted by the grand jury on March 20, 1969, were Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale. Seale was eventually severed from the original eight. 

The trial of the “Chicago Seven” began before Judge Julius Hoffman in the fall of 1969. The defendants, including David Dellinger of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE); Rennie Davis and Tom Hayden of MOBE and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS);and Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman of the Youth International Party (Yippies), were accused of conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Although Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers was originally a defendant in the trial as well, he angrily denounced Judge Hoffman as a racist for denying his request for a separate trial. He wanted to be represented by his own lawyer, who was recovering from surgery at the time, so he loudly protested by attempting to examine his own witnesses. Judge Hoffman took the unusual measure of having Seale bound and gagged at the defendant’s table before eventually separating his trial and sentencing him to 48 months in prison.

Brodie caption says" told me he was on an acid trip"
At the height of the antiwar and civil rights movements, these young leftists had organized protest marches and rock concerts at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. During the event, clashes broke out between the protesters and the police and eventually turned into full-scale rioting, complete with tear gas.
Brodie caption reads: Seale "Cool" Panthers, " Heart" America

Brodie caption reads' " I have seen white men chained and gagged in a Calif court" 
Seale being removed from the courtroom
The Chicago Seven were indicted for violating the Rap Brown law, which had been tagged onto the Civil Rights Bill earlier that year by conservative senators. The law made it illegal to cross state lines in order to riot or to conspire to use interstate commerce to incite rioting. President Johnson’s attorney general, Ramsey Clark, refused to prosecute the case. The grand jury returned indictments only after President Richard Nixon took office and John Mitchell assumed the office of Attorney General. On March 20, 1969, eight protesters were charged with various federal crimes and eight police officers were charged with civil rights violations.
Brodie caption: Marshals surrounding defendants

Amazing drawing by Brodie,  intense situation is captured beautifully. What a master.
Speculation that the jury would be unable to reach a decision proved unfounded. On February 18, 1970, they adjudged Davis, Dellinger, Hayden, Hoffman, and Rubin guilty, while acquitting Froines and Weiner. Two days later Judge Hoffman passed sentence. Each defendant received the maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
A long round of appellate action ensued. It began with the contempt verdicts. On May 11, 1972, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed all of these convictions on grounds that, because Judge Hoffman had been targeted by the attack, due process dictated that he should not sit in judgment on the contempt charges.

In November 1972 the appellate court overturned all five incitement to riot convictions, citing numerous errors by Judge Hoffman and the prosecution attorneys. In particular, they denounced Judge Hoffman's "deprecatory and often antagonistic attitude toward the defense." Scale, too, had his conviction overturned.

The government elected not to retry the incitement case, but did proceed on the contempt charges, with the result that in November 1973, Dellinger, Kunstler, Hoffman, and Rubin were again convicted. However, Judge Edward Gignoux signaled an end to the whole unsavory affair by deciding that the imposition of further jail sentences was unwarranted.

Read more: Chicago Seven Trial: 1969 - Guilty Verdicts Multiply - Hoffman, Judge, Contempt, and Conspiracy - JRank Articles


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