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Headscratchers / The Trial of the Chicago 7

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  • Why exactly did Bobby Seale not want to take Kustler as his lawyer? For that matter, why did Kustler not just take on Seale as his client when ordered by the judge?
    • Because by him being refused a lawyer and him being put on trial without it, he was being denied his rights and it should have been an immediate mistrial.
      • He was he being refused a lawyer? You have the right to a public defender if you don't have a lawyer, and the judge offered him a first-class lawyer. That's a better deal. It was Seale who refused the lawyer and that was his mistake. Why the judge didn't allow him to advocate for himself, I'm not sure (and not a legal expert)
      • But he did have a lawyer on record already though, and thus was not eligible to receive a public defender. His lawyer was not able to appear at the trial due to a legitimate medical emergency(gallbladder surgery) and 99% of the time this would allow for a motion to postpone the trial, but Judge Hoffman refused the motion. The court knowingly began the trial when Seale's attorney of record was unable to represent him due to a legitimate medical emergency, effectively denying him legal representation which is a clear violation of his right to due process and should have been grounds for a mistrial from the start, and easily would've gotten his conviction thrown out on appeal.
      • Lawyers have to know what the client's alibi is before defending them in a court of law, in order to help in any meaningful sense. Even the greatest lawyers have to know what is going on before building a case. Bobby either had to get his original lawyer, or trust in someone who he has never met to defend him without any knowledge on the case.
    • He was also making a point about how he had no connection whatsoever to the other seven defendants. By accepting Kustler as his lawyer he would have been tacitly accepting the connection to the other seven that was effectively being pushed on him.
    • What others said and he would then be tying himself to the other defendants and an established defense he had not been involved in planning. In the conference room after the first day Tom Hayden talks about them deciding 4 months ago that this was a defense not a political statement. The other 7 hired and picked the lawyers, and as a group agreed upon a defense plan months ago. Bobby Seale would be agreeing to the same defense plan without having been part of the planning and as an outsider in the group. Him being an outsider is very important. He would have to put his trust into a group of white people he did not know in the 1960s. That is a big deal. There is also the fact that Bobby Seale did not plan the event in Chicago, which the others did. All things being equal Bobby Seale should have had the strongest case for defense and should have been getting a plea deal offer. If he shares an attorney with those that have a weaker case than him, he is tying himself to them, grouping him with them in the minds of the jury, and making it impossible for him to make a plea deal because Kustler could not represent him in a plea deal that worked against his other clients. So Bobby Seale would lose a strong grounds for appeal to work with an attorney he did not pick, when the attorney was bound to act in the best interest of all 8 clients instead of just Bobby Seale's interests. The attorney that was in the hospital was also a good one, he was not waiting on a public defender he was waiting on someone known to defend civil rights cases. Accepting Kustler only becomes preferable in that the judge was acting so badly. But even then the judge acted so badly that the appeal that overturned the convictions of the 7 was not flattering to the judge. There are allegations of misconduct against attorneys representing multiple defendants with plea deals on the table in modern America and no racial politics involved. A black man in the 1960s putting his trust into a white attorney he did not know to put his interest before the interest of a bunch of white defendants, most if not all college graduates with political connections is not a smart move.
  • Why was Daphne O'Connor in the final scene? Her testimony was over. Also, why was she called upon to testify if Jerry Rubin did turn the crowd around and keep things peaceful at her urging? The defense would have known she had nothing that could entrap the witnesses.
    • She had nothing preventing her from being in the audience on her own volition to witness the sentencing, since it was hinted that she was actually sympathetic to the Chicago 7, but her presence was likely artistic license and she wasn't there when it actually happened. As for her testimony, she would have been obligated to appear as a witness likely regardless of her being helpful or harmful to either defense or prosecution since she was literally there.

  • Why was Abby among the group of people who bailed Tom out?