NEW YORK (Feb. 24)
Judge Julius Hoffman’s handling of contempt charges against the “Chicago Seven” defendants and two of their lawyers denied them “the right to a fair hearing” on those charges, the American Jewish Congress stated today, adding: “It is manifestly unjust to require the defendants to remain in jail pending appeal” of the contempt sentences. In a statement, George Soll of New York, chairman of the Congress’ Commission on Law and Social Action, stated that contempt charges should have been heard by a Judge not involved in the case; those held in contempt should have been given the usual notice of the charges against them and time to prepare their defense; and “substantial questions” raised concerning the validity of the contempt sentences should preclude jailing the defendants pending their appeal on those sentences.
Mr. Soil, noting that the American Jewish Congress “does not at this time express any views on either the allegedly contumacious conduct in question or on the conduct of the (conspiracy) trial by Judge Hoffman,” declared, however, “We can best protect the liberties of all Americans by insuring that the guarantees of fair trial are applied to every person charged with crime, no matter how we may view their beliefs or their conduct.”