Testimony of Harry Connick, Sr.

New Orleans, Louisiana -- June 28, 1995
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Our next witness this morning is the Honorable Harry F. Connick, Sr., the District Attorney of New Orleans. His office possesses records from the investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy and the prosecution of Mr. Clay Shaw, which was conducted by former District Attorney James Garrison in the late 1960s. Good morning, Mr. Connick and thank you.

MR. CONNICK: Good morning. Thank you very much. I want to compliment you after some prolonged thought and deliberation about the propriety of what to do with these records that we have. And I compliment you for attempting to do what I think is a necessary undertaking. Your folks came down to our office and we made available to them the viewing of what records that we have in our office that were left.

At my understanding from talking to people who had some familiarity with this investigation and prosecution, that there was a substantial amount of material at one time and that what we have left now when we took office in 1974, in April of 1974, we, in essence, had one file cabinet with five drawers of material in it. Then in 1990, we turned some of those materials over to the public library and I think they're going to make that available to you.

But we think that what you are doing is important and we think that what we can hopefully add to what you're doing will clarify some of the clouded areas of the past and make some sense out of what happened.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you. Questions?

MR. HALL: Mr. Connick, do you have any idea whether the records that were held at your office have remained the same since the donation that was made to the New Orleans public library.

MR. CONNICK: Did they remain the same?

MR. HALL: Yes. Have there been any additions, deletions of, to those materials?

MR. CONNICK: No, the materials that I have in my office and have had for 21-1/2 years have been I think under fairly close control and we really haven't had to give access except on maybe one occasion, shortly after we took office. But most of that is intact. A lot of it, though, is missing and was taken before we took office. This is my understanding and where that is, I don't know.

And I might also answer one of the questions that you posed to Congresswoman Lindy Boggs. There are a lot of folks that were connected with that investigation and prosecution and were in that office, you know, from that time of the trial until we took office in '74. I think that a lot of that material is probably in their custody.

I think those files were rifled and I think they took from those files things that would be of great interest to the American public and to the world as a matter of fact, because of what happened in that case and the tragedy of the whole Shaw prosecution. But what we have has been fairly well untouched for 21-1/2 years until very recently.

MR. HALL: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Mr. Connick, are there lists available of prior employees of the Office that we might be able to follow up on --



MR. CONNICK: I think anyone down here in New Orleans who followed that prosecution can give you that information, too. But we have some of that information, if not all of it, and can let you have it.

For instance, I was talking to someone who was very close to the investigation at that time. I was told that there was an index, there was a record kept, an archive as a matter of fact, of everything that came into that office connected with that investigation and prosecution, and all those things are gone. But we'll be happy to work with you and your folks to make information and possible leads available to them so you perhaps can recover some of that.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Connick, in addition to the Clay Shaw prosecution by Mr. Garrison, have you become aware of other information that might be related to the assassination of President Kennedy that would be local in its orientation and that we might want to pursue?

MR. CONNICK: Not really, not really. I was in the United States Attorney's Office at that time of the Clay Shaw trial and was removed from any direct contact with anything that happened in that building. But I don't know of anything.

I know I spoke to our Clerk of Court this morning. There was some question about this Zapruder film because it was not in my office when we went there. And I was asking him if he had turned over to you information that the Clerk's Office had in connection with the prosecution of Mr. Shaw. He informed me that he had made available to you these things, but did not know whether that particular film was in that packet or not.

MR. JOYCE: I see. Thank you.

MR. HALL: Do you know if a public servant under Louisiana law removed materials relating to this investigation whether that would be a violation of Louisiana law?

MR. CONNICK: Our criminal code calls that theft.

MR. HALL: It's pretty simple.

MR. CONNICK: It's pretty clear that you have no right to take something that belongs to the state. If a public servant removes documents, as they obviously did in Mr. Garrison's office, then that would constitute a violation of our law on theft.

MR. HALL: Would you say that over the past quarter of a century, maybe over the past 30 years, the level of record keeping in the District Attorney's Office can best be described as diligent and systematic?

MR. CONNICK: Well, when we went into office, it was a pretty sorry state of affairs. We immediately took an inventory of everything that we were inheriting from Mr. Garrison and we found that it was not a very well managed office and that things were run in a very slipshod manner.

And we set about to correct that by bringing in a computer system and by accounting for every record that we were responsible for, every police report, where that police report or where that case went, whether it was accepted or refused or referred to another law enforcement body. But it was -- it took us a while to compile that. It was in bad shape. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mr. Connick. You've been extraordinarily helpful and generous with your time and staff time and we appreciate that. Thank you.

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