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Garrison’s Case

It seems odd that when an indictment has been handed down and a case is before the courts in Louisiana, the FBI and the Attorney General have seen fit to interfere with the orderly process of justice in a New Orleans court.

2.) Garrison has also had difficulties in extradicting persons he thinks may be connected with the case. He has tried to bring back two persons by accusing them of a specific crime not directly related to the case, a theft of munitions in 1961. After lengthy legal difficulties with the governors of Ohio and Texas, Garrison has apparently given up these efforts. One of the suspects, Gordon Novel, left New Orleans suddenly when he was about to be questioned by the Grand Jury. Novel has indicated in press statements that he had been involved in CIA activities. His lawyer has said he was a CIA intermediary with the anti-Castro Cubans. Novel has also said, according to the New Orleans papers, that he has been on the NBC payroll since February 1, 1967, helping them to prepare their attack on Garrison. After months of trying to question him, the latest indications (States-Item, August 1) are that he may soon be returning of his own volition to New Orleans.

Another potential witness, Sandra Moffitt, fled or moved to Iowa, a state from which she cannot be extradicted. She has been willing to “testify” on NBC, but not as yet before the New Orleans Grand Jury. Recently, a Vermont judge turned down a summons for J. Wesley Liebeler, the lawyer who had conducted the New Orleans investigation for the Warren Commission, to appear as a witness in the Andrews trial.

3.) The press and TV outside New Orleans have taken a much more active role in opposing what Garrison is doing. In view of the decision in the case of Dr. Sam Sheppard, Judge Haggerty, before whom Shaw is to be tried, has been extremely careful to prevent prejudicing the case by public statements by either the defense or the prosecution. He has issued guidelines to both sides, threatening to hold them in contempt if these are violated. (This was done after some rather strong and potentially prejudicial statements by Garrison, Shaw, and Shaw’s lawyers at the time of the original arrest and preliminary hearings of Shaw.) Since then Garrison has studiously avoided any discussion of Shaw and the specific evidence against him, except in a legal setting, as in his careful rebuttal to NBC. He even avoided discussing Shaw or the evidence when he appeared as a witness at Andrews’s hearing on August 9.

On the other hand, the press and TV have had no qualms about interviewing known or potential witnesses, evaluating the testimony and evidence, making charges against the District Attorney and his office, and in effect trying the case out of court (though they usually give lip service to the view that the validity of Garrison’s charges should be tested in court). In the Los Angeles Times of July 14, an editorial refers to “Garrison’s fantastic allegations and weird evidence.” It adds, “And the facts to date show that the conspiracy charges by the district attorney are as cockeyed as they are irresponsible.” The basis for this prejudgment of the case is chiefly the NBC program of June 19, whose title “The JFK Conspiracy: The Case of Jim Garrison” suggests that Garrison should be on trial, not the defendant.

THE WAVE OF ATTACKS in the press and TV not only surely prejudices a fair trial, making an impartial jury difficult to obtain; it even seems aimed at preventing a trial. The series of intense attacks in June came while Judge Haggerty was entertaining a defense motion to quash the indictment. Gurvich, Garrison’s former investigator, is reported to have gone to see the Judge while he was entertaining this motion. As soon as NBC announced it had found the real Clay Bertrand, the defense lawyers said they would move to have the case thrown out of court. A private group in New Orleans, the Metropolitan Crime Commission, in consultation with Shaw’s defense lawyers, has used the press and TV allegations to push for an investigation of Garrison by the Attorney General of Louisiana and the Governor. Yet, if the evidence is as contrived and cockeyed as the press and TV allege, they should expect that twelve jurors along with Judge Haggerty will see through it, and will vindicate Shaw and destroy Garrison at the trial. Surely they suggest an unseemly impatience with or lack of confidence in the jury system. The trial will probably be held in October or November, though the Judge has not yet set a date. But the press and TV hammer at the evidence presented at a preliminary hearing in which three judges were to decide whether there was sufficient “probable cause” to bind over the defendant for trial. (That there is probably much more evidence will be discussed below.) At least one of the judges seemed disposed toward the defense, yet all three voted unanimously to indict Shaw. Newsweek immediately sneered that this proved nothing, since it is much harder to get a Grand Jury to indict. The Grand Jury, on apparently the same evidence, indicted Shaw. Yet the press and TV, on the basis of allegations which have not been tested by the courts, in affidavits, or in cross-examination, have seen fit to overrule three judges and the Grand Jury! Indeed, although the American public hardly seems aware of it, Garrison has won all of the legal skirmishes that have resulted from the allegations in the press and on TV. The two New Orleans newspapers carry continuous coverage of these matters. The charges appear nationally, the answers and resolutions only locally.

4.) Let’s look at a few of the more sensational cases. On June 12, we are told on the front page of The New York Times (whereas news of the case usually appears on the penultimate page of section 2) that a convicted burglar, John Cancler, says that the testimony of Bundy is false. Bundy is a convict who had claimed at the preliminary hearing that he saw Shaw give Oswald money. Cancler also says that Garrison’s office tried to induce him to plant evidence in Shaw’s house. The New York Times took Cancler’s claims at face value, and NBC featured Cancler on their program. As far as I know, only the New Orleans papers mentioned the strange fact that Cancler refused to state his claims in an affidavit, a usual way to make legally relevant statements of fact. Then, as Garrison revealed on his TV rebuttal, when the New Orleans Grand Jury called Cancler and asked him if the statements he had made on NBC-TV were true, he took the Fifth Amendment. Thus, on the one occasion when Cancler had the opportunity to make his charges in a legal proceeding, he declined to do so. (NBC said “The fact that he has availed himself of his constitutional rights does not affect the truth of his statements” [Times-Picayune, July 16, 1967]. It does, however, affect their credibility.) After Cancler took the Fifth Amendment, the foreman of the Grand Jury took him before Judge Bagert. He was asked to tell his story, and he again refused. The Judge then found him guilty of contempt, fined him, and sentenced him to six months in jail (States-Item, July 13, 1967). The matter is now awaiting judicial review. On July 28 he was sentenced to eighteen years in prison for burglary.

A MORE STARTLING case was that of William Gurvich, who had served as a major investigator for Garrison. Late in June, Gurvich broke with Garrison and appeared on the third of the CBS Warren Report Programs, after having visited Senator Robert Kennedy, purportedly to tell him that Garrison had no evidence of a conspiracy to kill his brother. On CBS Gurvich said, “Unquestionably, things have happened in the District Attorney’s office that definitely warrants [sic] an investigation by the Parish Grand Jury, as well as the Federal Grand Jury.” Gurvich was then asked if these methods (presumably those of Garrison and his staff) were illegal, and he replied, “I would say very illegal, and unethical.” When asked for details, Gurvich said, “I would rather save that for the Grand Juries.” Nationally, Gurvich’s charges—that Garrison had no case and that he used illegal and unethical methods—received enormous publicity; they constituted for many people the final destruction of Garrison’s credibility and integrity. Gurvich appeared before the Grand Jury on June 28. Right after hearing his testimony, the foreman of the Orleans Parish Grand Jury, Mr. Albert V. LaBiche, issued a statement that so far “no new evidence has been produced to confirm any of the allegations that have been made to date.” He then clarified this statement by saying that the allegations in question were those “pertaining to the critics of Mr. Garrison’s office” (Times-Picayune, June 29, 1967).

According to the New Orleans States-Item of June 27, Gurvich had told reporters in late April that he felt the investigation was on “very solid ground,” and that “he believed there was a very strong conspiracy case.” In fact, Gurvich told me in April that he found Russo a most convincing witness after personally examining him, that the evidence was sound. He also told me he thought that my theory of a “second Oswald” was the most plausible explanation he knew of to explain what had happened. In view of Gurvich’s role in the case, some explanation seems required of his change of heart. Apparently he did not convince the Grand Jury of his present claims. To make them more convincing, according to the July 12 States-Item, Gurvich went to Chicago and there “underwent lie detector tests to back up his contention that Garrison’s probe has no substance.” Gurvich claimed the tests prove his allegations, and he was going to submit them as evidence to the Grand Jury. Gurvich testified again before the Grand Jury on July 12, and there is no indication he convinced them this time. According to the July 14 Times-Picayune, he passed out copies of the lie-detector test to the Grand Jury and reporters. (The test questions contain charges that Garrison ordered the beating of two NBC men, and that he discussed raiding the FBI office in New Orleans with red pepper guns.) The national press and TV have made no effort to inform the public that, up to this point, Gurvich has not provided any information which the Grand Jury sees fit to act upon!

5.) If the Gurvich affair has so far not confirmed the charges made against Garrison, another case, that of the “real” Clay Bertrand, also seems to refute the assumptions of the press and TV. One of Garrison’s major charges is that Clay Shaw is the mysterious Clay Bertrand whom Andrews said had tried to get him to defend Oswald after the assassination. Perry Russo said that the man he identified as Shaw at the party at Ferrie’s house was introduced to him as Clem Bertrand. In the middle of the NBC program, after interviewing Dean Andrews, Frank McGee said,

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