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Former U-M Man Set For Contempt Trial In Grand Rapids

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Former U-M Man Set For Contempt Trial In Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS--(AP)-- H. Chandler Davis, former University of Michigan mathematics instructor is scheduled to be tried Nov. 19 in federal court on charges of contempt of Congress.

United States Attorney Wendell A. Miles said today the trial will be held without jury before Federal Judge W. Wallace Kent.

Davis was indicted by federal grand jury Aug. 25, 1954, following a Communist probe by a House an-American activities subcommittee headed by former Rep. Kit Clardy.

He was charged with refusing to answer 26 questions on possible Communist connections while at Harvard University, where he earned a doctor's degree in mathematics, and also on whether he was a member of the Communist Party while on the Michigan faculty.

Davis was suspended from the University faculty, May 10, 1954, and ultimately discharged.

He pleaded innocent of the contempt charges through his attorney in federal court a year ago and was released under $5,000 bond. Miles said Davis will be defended by New York attorney Philip Wittenburg, who represented the respondent in matters preceding the scheduled trial.

Davis now is teaching mathematics at Columbia University, according to Miles, who also said he is the first person in Michigan to be cited for contempt of Congress.

Davis invoked the First Amendment — which guarantees freedom of speech, religion and press—in refusing to answer the questions at the Lansing hearing in 1954.

Among other questions he refused to answer were whether he knew Gerhard Eisler, who fled the United States to avoid prosecution, and whether he was the author of a pamphlet titled “Operation Mind,” which urged opposition to the presence of the Committee on Un-American Activities in Detroit in 1952.

Last Sept. 14, Judge Kent denied a motion to dismiss the charges against Davis and ruled in an opinion that he should stand trial.