Trials: Contempt in Chicago

The conspiracy trial in Chicago is far from over, but it has already prompted troublesome questions about U.S. justice. For one, the new federal antiriot statute on which the charges are based may itself be unconstitutional. Last week U.S. District Judge Julius J. Hoffman raised a whole new set of volatile issues. Incensed at Black Panther Bobby Scale, the defiant defendant whom Hoffman had ordered gagged and manacled to his chair, the 74-year-old judge suddenly declared a mistrial for Seale and found him guilty on 16 charges of contempt of court. Without much further ado, Hoffman sentenced...