The charges were prompted by a violent demonstration in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle on February 17, 1970. Ironically, that demonstration was held to protest the conspiracy trial of the "Chicago Seven," who had been indicted for conspiracy in planning protests during the August 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago.
The Seattle Seven defendants were tried in Tacoma before Federal District Judge George Boldt (1903-1984). After repeated courtroom disruptions, he declared a mistrial on December 10, 1970, and cited all seven defendants for contempt. All but Lerner ultimately served some jail time.