Special of the week; Issue 20-70 "Panel on the Chicago Seven Trial"
NBER the national educational radio network presents special of the week from WGA you see the radio station of the University of Cincinnati. A panel discussion on the Chicago Seven trial heard originally by listeners to the U.S. forum moderated by Dr. Campbell Crockett. The reason why we're going to be talking about this I suppose is obvious. It has elicited a great deal of interest in the country and Cincinnati and at the university. Some of the principal persons in this drama have been at Cincinnati in the recent past. Mr. Counselor one of the defense attorneys spoke here a week or so ago and Jerry Rubin one of the defendants was a student at the University of Cincinnati. One of the things that has intrigued me about the trial and the aftermath is the extremes of
positions and feelings with respect to it. For some people as I listen to the Judge Hoffman seems to represent the last fortress of American freedom the American way of life is regarded as a hero by some. To others however he is the principal villain in this piece and is regarded as one who has in effect obstructed the cause of freedom and democracy. Well here to discuss the Chicago trial some of its meanings and some of our feelings and prejudices about it are professors Bill Hamrick from the English department and Professor Dan beaver from the history department to get us started Dan and since you are a professor of history why don't you give us a kind of brief recap of the hour the trial in terms of your information about it.
Thanks Campbell. Well the roots of the Chicago trial go back to the Democratic convention. One thousand sixty eight. Late summer in 1968 when people came into Chicago from all over the country in an attempt some said to influence the decision of the Democratic convention to protest the way in which the United States had been pursuing its foreign policy objectives to protest the internal structure of the United States and perhaps to persuade the Chicago police to do what it seems that they did and that is create an incident of both national and international significance. There are some who say also that the attempt was made. Primarily to bring all political institutions a political
process of the United States itself into a absurd confrontation with a group of people outside the political establishment. At the end of the Chicago affair that admittedly was loud noisy and brutal but not terribly bloody. A decision or at least the beginnings of a decision were made in Washington and that is that the men who allegedly had brought the riot about in Chicago were to be brought to trial under an amendment to the 968 Civil Rights Act the so-called Rap Brown Amendment. The whole situation though became very confusing very fluid after November because of the defeat of the Democrats and the entry
of a new administration into Washington. Apparently the decision was made to prosecute by Attorney General Mitchell and the so called instigators were brought to trial in Chicago for two things. First conspiracy and second for crossing state lines in order to incite to riot. Now the thing of that that interests me here is that. Well it's seems as if these these people did they did conspire and they did cross state lines and order a side to riot. But everybody knows everybody in the legal profession at least knows that this is the hardest possible thing to prove legally as conspiracy so obviously
there was something else involved besides just the simple fact of bringing people to trial to try to get justice. And so what we find confronting each other in Chicago over a period of months are three fundamental positions. One and this is just a personal opinion I don't think any of us know really what was going on very much. One of the alleged conspirators whose objective even during the so-called riots was to bring the institutions of the United States into contempt if you will and to reveal the destructive nature of these institutions. Second the federal authority. Who is object in my mind at least was to use the courts and use the law a patently in in my opinion patently unconstitutional law especially in the
conspiracy areas. To harass. Over a long term basis and to use up the resources of radical organizations. So here you have two groups confronting each other. The agents of the executive branch and a group of anti establishment establishment Ariens both of whom want to use a particular institution of the United States government in order to harass each other. That institution of course is the court system and the whole idea of the law to use the law to harass each other. At this point and in the third institution and that is the law that can seize of itself as independent of the executive branch most certainly not an agent of the executive branch and most certainly independent and in
a judging Capet relationship with the conspirators. And here course enter Also Judge Hoffman Judge Hoffman who I suspect I don't know I can't see in a man's mind this way but I know a few judges who conceives of himself as as very much the representative not of the government but the representative of the law. And here the law is under attack here the law is within at least and it has the possibility of being rendered absurd. And Hoffman the whole series of inept actions plays into the hands of the two groups of people. We're most interested in in using him now I could be I'm giving more jobs often than he deserves and it could be I'm giving more to the conspiratorial than they deserve. But this is my mind
this is a confrontation. Radical anti-establishment Tarion forces with the agents of the executive branch of the government both are using in a way that no lawyer would would condone and no judge would most certainly condone. The institutions of the law to harass each other and in the process running a very very real risk of bringing the whole institution of the law and IMO I'm pretty Hobbs in in this area under contempt which in this sense is a loss to all of us. Bell how do you react to Dan's factual not judgmental drought. I don't know why I'm here. Yeah Dan is very can sometimes be very disarming and his fair mindedness I expected. More of a more biased presentation. I'm in substantial agreement with the outlines of what went down as a matter of fact I like his three
way analysis. I think that my only My only addition would be that I say that to Dan stated or when Dan says that I was a conspiracy and Chicago I. I would like to add I think that I think there were certainly two conspiracies. Judging from the reports of people who were at the Democratic National Convention in the line of duty including our colleague Larry Wolf there was pretty clear evidence that Daley and his and his people had conspired to deny the routine rights of even delegates to the to the Democratic National Convention and that the authorities of Chicago could easily be shown I think to have gone out of their way to deny rights to an assembly and an expression to the to the demonstrators as well as to bona fide delegates to the
convention. Well let me then pick up on one thing you said and kind of play a role here also since some of my best friends are judges. And since most of us and some respect other use Judge malfunctions at one time or another. Let me ask specifically to for you to cite anything that Judge Hoffman did that you I believe used the word and at one point. But you know he acted as a judge. What did he do that was wrong. She said Oh I've got I've got a theory here and I'm a military historian and a diplomatic historian and I've got one simple rule of life in. And institutional procedures that is when you're in confrontation with someone else perhaps on a national level on an international level or even on a personal level. And that is if you know fairly well what someone wants you to do
then it's a fairly good idea not to do it because it's going to ultimately reflect to your disadvantage and to his advantage. Now it seems to me that the conspiratorial were very very clear in what they want to Judge Hoffman to do and that is precisely what he did do as what better what better example of judicial What better example of the due of judicial harassment than to have Bobby Seale in chains and gag chained to his chair in a in a court room where he's unable to unable to speak. So when you play the opposition game I call that inept I think. What about the contempt citations which have been discussed some that if you were in Judge Hawkins shoes what would you have done with a. I'll refer to it as acting out behavior on the
part of the defendant. File contempt citations but at the same time keep my mouth shut. That is after all they didn't have to be lectured from the bench. This was a this was a critical thing as the idea of the law that is the. The right that every citizen has to a quick and speedy trial to proper procedures to be free if you will from harassment from the bench. Now I'm going to spin off just a little bit in the other direction because this raises all kinds of questions about the activities of Mr. consumer too and that is that. And does he have the right to do this. Rejected his role as an officer of the court in the in the trial. That is a lawyer in a trial as as we all know is not only a defense legal defense for his climb but he's also an office of the court and through playing the role of as often officer
of the court. He has an obligation to follow the traditional procedures of the court counselor by not following the traditional procedures of the court and by rejecting his role as an officer of the court. Brought himself into the into a contemptuous condition a contemptuous relationship with the court and I suspect that the American Bar Association is going to look at this fairly carefully in the next few months and come to come to some sort of a judgement that is when a man rejects the role of an officer of the court that's inherent in his position of lawyer and his position as lawyer and what are we supposed to do here that is not only Hoffman was acting contemptuously. This is my point. Everybody was acting contemptuously and Hawkman just happened to be the most inept of all of them because Hofmann seems to be the man who was playing the game that everyone else wanted him to play. And as a result the court procedure comes down a heap. Oh what do you do Dan with a defendant
who will not stay in his place and his chair who won't who continually talks in such a ways to interfere with the proceedings. If you don't gag him chained to the chair what do you do. What happens in the court room. All right no nobody knows Campbell. I like to I like to hear Bill on this one because it's never it's never come up. Even John Browne when he was tried. Follow the procedures of the court and awaited the away to the appropriate time to to make a statement which was a very effective statement and carried forward fascinating carried forward completely within the framework of the traditions of American and English jurisprudence at the time. As a result some would say that Brown did try him because he carried the thing forward he his act was outside the frame of established practice but when he was tried he wanted to be it wanted to be absolutely clear that the procedure was followed to the letter that there was no attempt to
interfere with the procedure and the procedure guilty. And I think Brown made his point much much better than the Chicago conspirators have so far made their point because everyone has managed to fudge this thing. This is this is exactly my reaction that the all the yuppie enterprise that seems to have taken control of some of the defendants behavior is pretty self-defeating in this way. I think that that one thing should be we should remind ourselves of one thing that at that at least two of the defendants have openly and avowedly rejected the values that Dan holds that I hold and that the that the majority hold. RUBIN And Abbie Hoffman I think take the position of that that they are not valid and to follow these procedures and this is what them something like a
philosophical position counselor came in his talk awfully close to accepting this view. If he didn't in fact accept it or did make the position which I think supports one of your earlier contentions that it helped to explain the motives of the defendants that he said something to the effect that if the court is to be used as a political weapon by the state the state must be willing to accept the consequences of that act and that that it will become a political species of political warfare rather than a trial. And I think this is probably the way the defendant saw this. But now let's. This is the way they see it. This may even be the way the attorney general's office sees it. But this does not necessarily mean that this is the way Judge Hoffman sees it and that is to see the federal people as using the courts as an agency of political warfare someone seems to indicate this is a new thing. You know Mark Hoffman understood what was going on in his court in the East and these terms. Oh yeah
I think I we can't that we can't look into people's minds as what that's the only way you can explain away the hysterical reactions. The mistake that is it's very possible I'd love to get into those papers I'd love to I love to read the other memos that go back and forth. You could just simply be for example it could be a lot easier than were trying to make it it could be just simply that that everyone is involved in creating a situation whereby an appeal will occur. And this is the thing that interest me because a counselor and the defendants have said over and over this reveals the hypocrisy of the whole system so on and so forth. What are those men going to do when that case goes to the Appeal Court. And I believe very sincerely that is going to be thrown out. Now I'm waiting for Mr concerned of these cases to perform an appropriate medical book preferably at the meeting of the American Bar Association with all the news media present where he says the system worked the way it's supposed to work and
I'm not going to hold my breath until he does it. I should say I can support that. I find myself in the Ryan room which is you know the be the collecting place near the mustard counter is a collecting place for the remnants of the New Left. I find myself informing people that the Oakland seven were acquitted. This is a not a very well-known fact on the left at the Oakland seven were tried for for conspiracy and were flatly acquitted in a in A and exemplary trial by my by a fine fair judge and a and a very humane and intelligent jury as well as a competent defense. And they and I say a competent prosecution. But you see Bill if if they would have really wanted to nail these people. They had all the necessary law that they needed in Chicago and by the way I agree with you that is that
what should have occurred at the Chicago was an investigation of the Chicago police report department and a considerable number of badges listed in all probability. But that doesn't doesn't change the legal situation and the situations of ours we as citizens are concerned. Just because two groups happen to at one particular time want to use an institution that's a bad event a just all of us and perhaps keeps all of us from becoming animals. And frankly I don't want to have to slow around the 45 on my hip to protect myself against against somebody else in the war of all against all of this whole thing collapses. I've got other things I want to do and those would take up far far too much of my time. We've got a vested interest in the thing too and if the process works they had to they had all the they had all the law they needed they could have tried them under the laws of the state of Illinois for incitement to riot but they didn't do that. The situation obviously is a political situation but not necessarily a political situation insofar as the bench is concerned or at least it's a different
political situation and so far as the bench is concerned they'll do You heard Mr. Counselor when he spoke at the University several days ago. Your impression of him from that parent. Frankly I was impressed by the by the revolutionary fervor and of course as you say I don't think it's an unfair characterization I think he he. In effect if not in fact classified himself as a revolutionary and so very a man of great capability will I think my lawyer friends have I have faulted him the exactly the same way that Dan has that that his his behavior and the behavior of the Chicago defendants was from my revolutionary point of view to the extent that I am a revolutionary or tactically unsound. And I think say that John Brown's behavior was was the better kind of behavior
for a for a revolution. And I use this term very loosely of course for a revolution that attempts to establish just principles. The the end of the end is. Ends and means get mixed up here. Remember Saul Alinsky his famous remark when asked if the ends justify the means. He said I'd like to know what the hell else does. But at the same time the ends and the means are defined by the end. And what Dan and Dan has pointed out that if if these he say question these give this shall we say excessively violent behavior not only rhetorically violent but actually violent behavior is employed in our society it is it is a serious threat. Well NCR are not Alinsky pardon me the councilors got him got himself into into a real bind got himself into a bind very similar I think to the to the early utilitarians.
There's one particular statement that he made that interested me and that is his statement if you got to be against violence you got to be against all violence from the breaking of a window to do the murdering of a child. Now this reminds me a great deal of the of the early utilitarian problem not being able to tell the difference between pushpin and chess. There's no there's no there ia for our no area for judgment in this position no area for adjustment. The idea being that this is the first priority issue all the way through to be taking this one point to be against violence. Well personally I can't buy that. That is my problem has always been whether to use rock salt or double a double lot bookshop that this is that this is the problem. Why are both of you suggesting that councillors actions during the trial were tactical calculated premeditated r Did he at times lose control.
I can't imagine a man of consolers capability losing control he didn't look nor sound to me like a man who would lose control but I think it was my guess. If I may guess that counselor had himself a real bag of worms with this particular bunch of people and it that he may not have been in any sense his decision of how the defense was going to be conducted and would be held guilty for liable. Anything we say on thats a missed drug I want to call Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin a bag of worms I think they would be good. I'll be very frank and say this is this estate personal is not intended in a libelous way. I would not all be surprised to find Mr Kunstler running for office in New York State it's an appropriate time in the near future. Could be. Speaking as a bag of worms and not referring of course to ourselves at the moment. Dan and Jerry Rubin was a dicier student here and he was here. What was your impression of hammer is your impression. Yeah well in a kind of indirect way.
The impression I had of Jerry was it was contained in this square article I think was selling was sometime last summers and I don't know yet a lot was the name. Yeah I like Jerry. If he had said it I know I'm no good C student. CB you're a man of independent means my young man on the go a man intent on making his mark who never got quite the recognition that he thought he ought to get who was not made chairman of the board as early as you thought he should have been made. Would you say he's modeling his behavior after you as if you were his advisor if you mean he's a phony I suspect maybe he was almost the last thing I heard. We're all full and you know we're all phony and in a certain number of ways I just think you know it's
sort of the problem of the Animal Farm I think has a little phone you than others. I wonder you heard a couple of times to the John Brown trial and how what an exemplary way he performed at the trial what was the outcome for him that way. Yeah. That somehow kind of disenchant me if I'm putting myself in his role. I think I might prefer other kinds of actions even though they might not conform to the exemplary behavior that you know action. Well then Steven Vincent Benet will never write a poem about you. That's his problem not mine. OK. No I don't I think that I'm saying John Brown's case there was nothing he could have done to prevent himself from being hurt. I think that when you say I mean what could he have done he could have split for Africa I guess but that would have destroyed the point I think he probably would have. It raises up you know it raises up all kinds of questions about what these these people are really about.
I don't know whether they're really seriously engaged in what they're doing and whether they as you know more about most certainly know more about this Campbell than the rest of us do or whether there are gays in a whole series of roles for by the stakes really aren't very high yet. I wonder how they do it if you will I wonder how we'd respond right now. Hi this is Howard K. Smith raised this point last week on an editorial. I wonder if these people were followers of George Lincoln Rockwell whether I'd be sitting here being as careful and as sympathetic as as I am to say toward Jerry Rubin as if these were if these were brown shirts and I've got a something deep down in my heart this is the same thing. That they really are brownshirts yet they mouths the slogans that we find it difficult to default. I just wonder what would happen if they were on the other side of that. I don't know one thing I do believe that from what I have read about
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