MOTION WILL BE DENIED: A New Report on the Chicago Conspiracy Trial by John Schultz
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MOTION WILL BE DENIED: A New Report on the Chicago Conspiracy Trial

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KIRKUS REVIEW

I'm not going to let these men play horse with the court!"" So ruled Judge Julius Hoffman at one point during the Chicago Conspiracy Trial. But before the proceedings were concluded many months later, his court had become a three-ring circus, or as John Schultz puts it, ""a sort of diving bell, trapping all occupants in a plunge into the American psyche and the undercurrents of American history."" Like our other landmark political trials -- Zenger, Sacco-Vanzetti, Haymarket -- the Chicago tribunal became a ""theater for the telling of the people and the Unpeople,"" a legal stage where the great antagonisms of the time fused momentarily, locked in a relentless and often bizarre spectacle: during the litigation a birthday cake was arrested; Bobby Seale later remarked through his gag ""rrrrrrrrnnnnnnnn""; Pete Seeger sang, Norman Mailer postured, Allan Ginsberg chanted, FBI pigeons squealed, even Mayor Richard Daley put in a testy appearance; Judge Hoffman repeatedly told the defense ""Motion will be denied""; and when it was all over Abbie Hoffman said ""I don't know whether I'm innocent or guilty."" John Schultz not only provides a masterful recapitulation of these anomalous events (author of No One Was Killed about the 1968 Democratic Convention, he was at the trial throughout), but also presents convincing interview evidence that several ""acquittal"" jurors were intimidated by functionaries of the court; that a key juror, Kay Richards, might well have been a government plant (she manipulated a ""negotiated"" verdict); and that Judge Hoffman himself not only ignored two hung-jury messages but denied jury members pertinent information regarding the trial during their deliberation. For Schultz, the whole episode is epitomized by ""hollowness"" -- the indictments under a law of dubious constitutionality, the government's vacillating case, Chicago's bureaucratically sterile Federal Building, the existential nonpersons who were the defendants, the Conspiracy itself: ""Thump it and test it from every side and it gave back the same message -- hollowness."" All politically literate Americans should read Motion Will Be Denied.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1971
Publisher: Morrow