note: Rich Samuels initially presented the "Chicago
Stories" segments on the Chicago Conspiracy Trial on WTTW's
"Chicago Tonight" show on February 21st and 22nd, 2005.
thanks: To WTTW cameramen Tom Siegel and Tim Boyd and
to freelance cameraman Patrick Gulotta who shot the video for
these segments; to WTTW motion-control camera expert Carlos Tronshaw;
and to WTTW's multi-talented Tim Boyd who edited the high-resolution
version of the segments with Avid Adrenaline.
The most enduring image of the "Chicago Conspiracy Trial"
was, of course, defendant Bobby Seale bound and gagged in a federal
courtroom. (Sketch by Verna Sadock of WMAQ-TV)
(from left to right):
Conspiracy" defendants Lee Weiner, John Froines, Abbie Hoffman,
Rennie Davis, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and David Dellinger. (Defendant
Bobbie Seale had presumably been severed from the trial by the
time Richard Avedon photographed the "Chicago Seven").
alleged conspirators were indicted in March of 1969, charged with
conspiring to come to Chicago with the intent of causing riots
at the August, 1968 Democratic National Convention. Curiously,
a "documentary" produced by the city of Chicago that
aired on WGN-TV on September 15th, 1968, prefigured the charges
in the indictment.
the city's documentary, Mayor Richard J. Daley alleged he had
information that some of those who were part of the disorders
attending the DNC planned to assasinate the contenders for the
nomination as well as himself. (The Daley clip was lifted from
an interview the mayor did with CBS's Walter Cronkite on August
of Police Intelligence Thomas Lyons alleged in the city's documentary
that some of the individuals who came to Chicago to disrupt the
convention also planned nude-ins and public fornication; and that
they intended to put ground glass in the food of delegates to
the DNC. Lyons based his allegations on reports in the "underground
Jennings Hoffman: He was seventy-four when the Chicago
Conspiracy Trial began in his courtroom on September 24th, 1969.
The trial lasted four and a half months. (Sketch by Verna Sadock
in the "Chicago Stories" documentary...
Kurshan: She was a cheerleader at her high school on
Long Island. But at the University of California Berkely campus
(in the aftermath of the "Free Speech" movement"),
she became the girl friend of future Chicafo Conspiracy defendant
On New Year's Eve of 1967, Nancy, along with Jerry Rubin, Abbie
Hoffman, Ed Sanders and Paul Krassner, dreamed up the idea for
the "Youth International Party" ("Yippies"
for short). It was their original intention to come to the 1968
DNC in Chicago to stage a "Festival of Life" to counter
the "Festival of Death" at the convention.
During the course of the followin months, when the city of Chicago
repeatedly refused to issue them permits for their events, it
became clear that there would be some sort of violent confrontation.
Nancy believes that she would have been among the indicted, had
it not been for the sexism of the movement in which she participated
and the general sexism of the time.
Nancy is presently a social worker.
Richard Schultz: Schultz, then an Assistant U.S. Attorney,
prosecuted the conspiracy case with then U.S. Attorney for the
Northern District of Illinois, Thomas Foran (who died on August
6th, 2000 at the age of 76).
Schultz, now in private practice, believes the alleged conspirators
came to Chicago to destroy the government. Yippie co-founder Nancy
Kurshan believes Schultz is correct in this belief. (The sketch
above of Richard Schultz is by Verna Sadock of WMAQ-TV).
Artist Verna Sadock: Verna had come to work at WMAQ-TV
only three weeks before the Conspiracy Trial began. It was, therefore,
the first time she'd ever been in a courtroom.
Verna, through her skills, transformed the tragedy and farce of
the trial into art.
Verna has sketched courtroom procedings for thirty-five years.
But the Chicago Conspiracy Trial was her favorite.
(Among her most prized possessions: an autographed sketch of Judge
Bob Greene: Bob had been on the staff of the Chicago
Sun Times less than a year when the Chicago Conspiracy began.
It was the first Federal Court trial he covered.
Seymour Adelman: Adelman had covered the Federal Building
beat for "Chicago Today" and its predecessor for many
years. Obviously, he never saw anything like the Chicago Conspiracy
the jury found five of the seven defendants guilty (not of conspiracy,
but of individual acts). the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
voided the convictions and the contempt citations imposed by Judge
Hoffman. The government chose to not retry the case.
became of the defendants? Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin
and David Dellinger are deceased. (Dellinger, a generation older
than his co-defendants, was the most recent to die. He passed
away last May at the age of 88).
defense attorney William
Kunstler died in 1995 at the age of 76. Defense attorney
Leonard Weinglass, based in New York City, continues to practice
civil rights law.
Judge Julius Hoffman died in 1983 at the age of 87.
Hayden served ten years in the California State Assembly
and two terms in the California State Senate. He's currently
a visiting professor of urban environmental policy at Occidental
College in Los Angeles.
To learn more about the trial and the key figures in the case,
visit the "Chicago
Seven" section of the "Famous
Trials" website of Doug Linder of the University of
Missouri-Kansas City Law School. Linder has links to other websites
(some of which, unfortunately, have expired) as well as an extensive
should also visit the website
of Bobby Seale where you will find, among other things,
a number of barbecue recipes, some of which are low-sodium.
you're lucky, you may be able to find a used copy of Verna Sadock
and Joseph Okpaku's long out-of-print book "Conspiracy".
It contains many of Verna's courtoom sketches and snippets of
some of the trial's more outrageous testimony.