WASHINGTON (Jul. 27)
Municipal Judge George Neilson today committed George Lincoln Rockwell, self-styled leader of the “American Nazi party” to the District of Columbia General Hospital for psychiatric examination.
Rockwell’s defense counsel promptly announced a bid would be made for a writ of habeas corpus tomorrow and Judge Neilson was not expected to issue the commitment order until consideration of that writ.
The judge issued his decision after a prolonged hearing today in two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Rockwell testified in his own defense as the last defense witness, spending most of his 45 minutes on the stand describing his neo-Nazi philosophy.
The decision for commitment followed a battle of psychiatrists over the question of Rockwell’s sanity at the court hearing at which Rockwell had originally been scheduled to face a second charge of disorderly conduct.
Judge George Neilson accepted a request of Clark King, Assistant Corporation Counsel, that the question of Rockwell’s sanity, originally scheduled to be considered at a hearing August 10, be considered today. Rockwell was in court today again on disorderly conduct charges growing out of a clash which developed at his latest “rally” last Sunday in the nation’s capital.
Rockwell had asked previously for a postponement from July 27 to August 10 so he could engage a psychiatrist and Judge Neilson approved the continuance. Today Rockwell appeared in court with his own attorney, James K. Hughes, who worked with the court-appointed lawyer, O. B. Parker as Rockwell’s defense counsel.
PSYCHIATRIC EXPERT OF WASHINGTON HOSPITAL TESTIFIES AGAINST ROCKWELL
Dr. John Schultz, medical director of the District of Columbia Hospital and former head of the hospital’s psychiatric clinic, testified for the prosecution. He said he had examined drawings and writings from Rockwell’s college days, as well as current ones. He testified he had reached the conclusion that “whoever developed this material gave evidence of having a deep-seated mental disturbance of a nature which one might assume could be dangerous.”
Mr. King then moved to submit that a prima facie showing had been made that Rockwell “might be of unsound mind and should be confined for full-time examination. ” Defense counsel Parker objected, arguing that Rockwell was competent to stand trial and that he had been found to be so by Dr. Thomas Murphy, a private psychiatrist in Washington.
The defense then began to call witnesses, all of them members of Rockwell’s group. Although there were some contradictions in their testimony, they agreed generally that the use by Rockwell and his followers of the swastika on armbands and on other displays was an “advertising gimmick. ” The defense counsel sought to show that Rockwell’s activities were motivated only by the goal of getting publicity.
In an earlier clash today between Mr. King and Mr. Parker, the defense attorney objected to the demand for an immediate sanity hearing, pointing out that Rockwell had been cooperating with the court and that there was therefore no need for the court to consider a detention order. Mr. King replied that Rockwell had been arrested even while a hearing was pending on a previous disorderly conduct charge. He said that there had already been bloodshed as a result of Rockwell’s activities and that action should be taken promptly to avoid more violence.
In earlier testimony, the prosecution presented two witnesses, Henry C. Borchard, Jr. a reporter for the North Virginia Sun of Arlington, Rockwell’s residence city, and Lt. Walter Lange of the capital Park Police. Borchard, who said he had been associated with Rockwell’s group, testified he had had long talks with Rockwell and that Rockwell had talked repeatedly about “gassing the Jews. ” Lt. Lange testified he had been on duty at a number of Rockwell “rallies” and that he had heard Rockwell preach extermination of the Jews.