The Law: When Is Bail Excessive?

When 16 Black Panthers go on trial in Manhattan this week, the official charges will include conspiracy to bomb subways and department stores. Yet a de facto trial has already occurred on far cloudier issues. The case is a classic example of how official disregard for procedural rights creates a "political" trial in which truth is the first victim.

Since their arrest last April, ten of the Panthers have been jailed in lieu of bail so high ($100,000 apiece) that many black New Yorkers now see the defendants as victims of white racism. Some Liberal whites agree. Conductor Leonard Bernstein has dunned...

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