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Two professors and a teaching fellow at the Law School went to Chicago Monday to present a letter protesting the actions of Judge Julius J. Hoffman in he Chicago Eight conspiracy trial. The letter was also signed by ten other members of the Law School Faculty.
The judge had ruled last Wednesday that four of the nine defense lawyers who withdrew from the case by telegram as the trial opened were in contempt of court. He issued warrants for their arrests, and two of the lawyers were actually arrested and transported back to Chicago. The judge told the defendants that if they felt they wee being "adequately defended," he would release the lawyers.
A fifth attorney, Charles Garry, who represented Black Panther Bobby Seale, was in the hospital after a gall bladder operation and unable to attend the proceedings.
The letter from the Law School Faculty members called Hoffman's actions "an outrage." "Judge Hoffman's conduct can only serve to weaken a basic American principle: the right of even the most unpopular defendant to adequate legal representation before an impartial judge," the letter stated.
The four lawyers who withdrew had agreed to do only pretrial work for the case. The judge ruled them in contempt because they did not appear in court, after sending the telegrams.
The Chicago Eight-who include Seale, Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, and Jerry Rubin-are being tried for conspiracy to provoke a riot during the 1968 National Democratic Convention.
More than 150 lawyers went to Chicago Monday to picket the court where the lawyers' cases were to be heard. Although the judge announced he was dropping the charges, 75 of the lawyers petitioned the District Court to move the trial to a larger room so that they could sit in on the proceedings. The request was denied.
Over the weekend, Alan M. Dershowitz, professor of Law, originated the idea of writing a letter of protest to the Illinois State Bar Association.
The three who went to Chicago were: Charles R. Nesson 60, professor of Law Stephen G. Breyer, assistant professor of Law and Charles H. Jones, Jr., teacring fellow in the Law School.
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