Based on a true story, Aaron Sorkins The Chicago Trial 7 examines the tension between the defendants on trial over the protests of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Tom Hayden's (Eddie Redmayne) establishment stance and Abbie Hoffman's (Sacha Baron Cohen) spectacle approach to civil rights collide throughout the film. But despite the group's internal problems, Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella) is the definitive villain in the film. Yes, the story is dramatized, but Hoffman exhibited very questionable and abusive behavior in real life during the process. So who was Hoffman (not related to Abbie Hoffman by the way) and what happened to him?
In the film, Judge Hoffman is downright worst – he is always ready to explain the order in court and bring charges of disregard left and right. In the most draconian moment of The Chicago Trial 7He orders Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) to be gagged and tied up. Hoffman really did all of these things during the infamous trial. Following the trial, five of the defendants were found guilty of causing disturbance. (Lee Weiner and John Froines were acquitted.) All of the defendants (and their lawyers) were convicted of contempt of court. Hoffman treated Seale so inhumanly that Seale was separated from the other defendants. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the defendants' convictions in 1972. It pointed to Hoffman's procedural errors as well as his hostile attitude towards the defendants. Hoffman was on trial on his actions, which included screaming of matches and undue disdain.
Hoffman, despite his reputation, had a rather notable career. (The credits of The Chicago Trial 7 show that 78 percent of Chicago litigators rated Hoffman "Unqualified" in a biannual poll.) After being admitted to the Illinois bar in 1915, he served as a lawyer until 1936 and became General Counsel of the Brunswick Balke Collender Company. He later returned to his law firm and worked there until he became a judge.
Hoffman died in 1983 at the age of 87. He served on the bank for 35 years, five years as a Cook County judge, and 30 years as a member of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. A year before his death, an executive committee of the judicial system said it would no longer refer him to new cases because of his erratic behavior. However, he continued to work until his death.