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Julius Hoffman
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Judge
    (July 7, 1895-July 1, 1983)
    Born in Chicago, Illinois
    Member of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (1953-83)
    Best known for presiding over the trial of the Chicago Seven (April 9, 1969-February 20, 1970)
    The convictions of the Chicago Seven were overturned on appeal in part because of Judge Hoffman’s open antagonism towards the defendants.
    He ordered Bobby Seale gagged and bound before declaring a mistrial in his case.
    Even before the Chicago Seven trial, he had a reputation for abrasiveness.
    In one survey of Chicago attorneys, 78% had an unfavorable opinion of him; the response was especially negative for the questions ‘Does he display an impartial attitude’ and ‘Is he equally courteous to both the prosecution and defense?’
    A year before his death, the Executive Committee of the US District Court stopped assigning him new cases due to his age and complaints about erratic behavior on the bench.
    He was married to his wife Eleanor for 52 years until her death.
    He had to put up with a lot of abuse from the Chicago Seven defendants, such as being called a ‘racist, fascist pig.’
    Prosecutor Thomas Foran said of the defendants’ behavior, ‘They went after him in the most vulgar, rude, insensitive, intentional way of trying to make a fool of him. It was totally inhuman.’
    William Kunstler, defense attorney for the Chicago Seven, said, ‘I thought he was kind of a worthy opponent when I wasn't hating him. He was well read and literate.’

Credit: C. Fishel


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