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The Catonsville NineAn American Story$
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Shawn Francis Peters

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199827855

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827855.001.0001

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“They’re Proud of It”

“They’re Proud of It”

(p.183) 15 “They’re Proud of It”
The Catonsville Nine

Shawn Francis Peters

Oxford University Press

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arthur Murphy, delivering the opening statement for the prosecution, surprising absolutely no one as he laid out the federal government's workmanlike case against the Catonsville Nine. He told jurors that he would be able to introduce irrefutable evidence showing that the nine defendants had willfully destroyed government records and had interfered with the operation of the Selective Service System. There was no getting around it: the federal government had an airtight case. The tenor and scope of the trial changed completely when it came time for the defense to put on its case. In his opening statement, William Kunstler offered almost a total inversion of Murphy's argument for the prosecution. Unlike the government's attorneys, he wanted jurors to take into account the full context of the defendants' actions. What they had done was indisputable; the Nine freely admitted that they had seized and burned the Selective Service files in Catonsville. “So far as the facts in this case go, we agree with the government. No defendant is going to dispute that the facts occurred as the government says they have occurred,” Kunstler said. “The defendants are not going to deny doing what the evidence shows they did. They're proud of it, and they think it is one of the shining moments of their own personal lives.” But why they had done it? That, the defense attorney argued, was the central issue of the case.

Keywords:   Catonsville Nine, trial, Selective Service System, federal government, William Kunstler, Arthur Murphy

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