Judging the Chicago Trial
JULIUS HOFFMAN, Thomas Foran, William Kunstler, Tom Hayden, David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Bobby Seale, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin-these are, like Spiro Agnew, household names we owe to the benighted summer of 1968, though we have acquired them gradually since. We could do without them, but we can’t. The Hoffmans, Foran and the rest, with John Froines, Lee Weiner, Richard G. Schultz (like Foran, a federal prosecutor), Leonard Weinglass (like Kunstler, a defense lawyer), plus a jury were the cast, of course, of the Chicago convention-riots trial of 1969-70.
The defendants, or some of them, may well consider that on the whole they profited from the trial. They achieved, they may believe, a political objective. “The scene of a political trial,” Tom Hayden has written, “should extend into the final courtroom of public opinion.” Charges such as those lodged against the Chicago defendants “should be tried in the media…. In this way we take the legal camouflage off repression and expose it for what it is. We create a sympathetic climate of opinion that the government must either placate or alienate. We exercise political influence on the higher courts. If we are acquitted by a jury of the people, then the government becomes the criminal, even if we are in jail.”
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