“A Colossal Effrontery to Justice”

Shawn Francis Peters

in The Catonsville Nine

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827855
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950140 | DOI:
“A Colossal Effrontery to Justice”

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When lawyers represented activists like the Catonsville Nine in court, Berrigan expected them to take a page from the playbook of the nonviolent revolutionaries they were defending. Their goal should be “the embarrassment and exposure of illegitimate power.” This entailed acknowledging from the outset that trials of political activists were little more than charades. “There is no good reason why lawyers defending an antiwar case can't realize that a guilty verdict has been passed before the trial begins and that they are morally obligated to dramatize such a colossal effrontery to justice,” he argued. Taking such extraordinary actions was imperative, even if it meant jeopardizing their professional respectability. “There is no good reason,” Berrigan insisted, “why there should not be as many lawyers in jail for contempt of court as there are young men imprisoned for draft resistance.”

Keywords: lawyers; draft resistance; contempt of court; Phil Berrigan

Chapter.  5705 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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