History of the Federal Judiciary


History of the Federal Judiciary


  The Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial
Learn about the case — historical background and documents

The Judicial Process: A Chronology

September 9, 1968

Grand jury convened in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to investigate whether any demonstrators violated federal law and whether Chicago police officers violated the civil rights of demonstrators.

March 20, 1969

Grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois indicted eight persons on charges of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce with the intent to incite riots in Chicago. Six of the defendants were indicted on individual charges of traveling in interstate commerce with the intent to incite a riot, in violation of the Anti-Riot Act. On the same day, the grand jury indicted seven Chicago police officers on charges of depriving individuals of their civil rights and an eighth police officer of perjury before the grand jury.

April 9, 1969

Defendants in the conspiracy case were arraigned in the district court and pleaded not guilty.

September 24, 1969

Start of the conspiracy trial.

November 5, 1969

Judge Julius Hoffman declared a mistrial in the prosecution of Bobby Seale and severed his case from the remaining seven defendants. Hoffman also convicted Seale on sixteen counts of contempt and sentenced him to four years in prison.

February 14, 1970

Judge Julius Hoffman convicted the seven defendants and their two attorneys of a total of 159 charges of criminal contempt for behavior throughout the trial.

February 19, 1970

The jury acquitted all defendants of the conspiracy charge and defendants Froines and Wiener of all charges. The jury found the other five defendants guilty of violating the Anti-Riot Act.

May 11, 1972

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed most of the contempt convictions, dismissed others, and remanded the remaining contempt charges for retrial by another judge in the district court. On the same day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in a separate opinion, dismissed four counts of contempt against Bobby Seale and remanded the remaining twelve contempt specifications against Seale for retrial by another judge.

November 21, 1972

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the convictions of the five defendants on the charge of intent to incite a riot, and the court of appeals remanded the cases to the district court for retrial at the discretion of the government.

January 4, 1973

Attorney General Richard Kleindienst announced that the government would not retry any of the defendants on the charge of intent to incite a riot.

December 6, 1973

Edward Gignoux, sitting by assignment in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois at the retrial of the contempt charges, dismissed all contempt charges against two of the defendants and attorney Leonard Weinglass, and convicted three of the defendants and attorney William Kunstler of a total of thirteen contempt charges. Gignoux did not impose any further jail sentence.

 

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