Testimony of Cynthia Wegmann

New Orleans, Louisiana -- June 28, 1995
CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Our next witness this morning is Cynthia Ann Wegmann. Ms. Wegmann is the daughter of the late Edward Wegmann, a member of the legal team that defended Clay Shaw at the 1969 assassination conspiracy trial. Good morning, Ms. Wegmann.

MS. WEGMANN: Yes. I am Cynthia Wegmann, daughter of Edward F. Wegmann, who was Clay Shaw's civil attorney for some 20 years before this tragic event occurred. And at that time I was 16, a senior at the Academy of Sacred Heart here in New Orleans and totally outraged. I spent the next two years in New Orleans at Daddy's side and at Mr. Shaw's side trying to assist and at the same time being totally wide-eyed at the facts and the allegations and utter insanity of it.

The records that we are making available to the Assassination Board are the records that were maintained for, prepared for trial by my father, his brother, Billy, Irving Dymond, who was the criminal attorney in charge of the defense team, and Sal Panzeca. These are the investigation files and the statements taken and whatever we could grasp at in order to attempt to defend this mass tangle of a web that was conceived and then pursued.

What is amazing to me now, some 30 years later -- I guess it's not that -- 25 years later, is that despite the fact that after a 40-day trial, a 55-minute deliberation by 12 jurors and a resounding acquittal, that Clay Shaw's name remains besmirched, that he can be portrayed as a buffoon in films, that the true nature of the man has been hidden and destroyed.

I believe that anyone who takes a look at these records will realize how amorphous, how little evidence, if any, there was, and it's for this reason that my mother and I and my brothers would like to make this record available to the public.

The unfortunate thing in my view is that the records do not tell the story of the man, Clay Shaw, whose true courage has been -- his reputation has been ruined -- that, you know, I met him as a 16-year-old and found him to be a gentleman in every sense of the word, a man of dignity, an enormous presence and only learned later of his contributions to the city; of the fact that he had envisioned the World Trade Mart.

He had started it, he had a great deal to do to encourage trade with the Port of New Orleans, both in South America, France, Belgium. He received awards from those countries -- that when he was in the Army he received the Croix de Guerre from France, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star from the United States, that he made the first restoration of our French Market.

He restored singlehandedly on his limited resources some nine buildings in the Quarter, which remain restored today. He was a playwright. He spoke several languages -- Spanish, French, English and something else. I don't remember what -- and that I would hope that anyone who sees what these records reveal would know that he was a victim, someone chosen to be the patsy, somebody who could make an otherwise fictional investigation gain publicity.

Had Clay not died in 1974, some seven years after his arrest and five years after his acquittal, I believe that he would have been vindicated by the civil suit that was brought on his behalf. But because of the quirk in Louisiana inheritance laws at that time, this was considered a personal action and he died without any heirs, any descendants or ascendants. His mother died just months before he did.

So I would hope that once the public sees that what there was or what little there was, that then they would allow him to remain at rest. So, thank you.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Ms. Wegmann. If we could ask you a few questions if you wouldn't mind.


MR. JOYCE: Ms. Wegmann, in addition to the records that you've very generously agreed to make available to the Board, would there be other materials that you might guide us to look after to see if there might be supplements to what you've given us?

MS. WEGMANN: Mr. Joyce, I'm not certain. When my father died in '89, I was left with the contents of his office, which included these records. The contents moved to various places. Clay's records moved to my attic. I believe that there is one more file box somewhere in the depths of my attic space that contain perhaps the records of the civil suit.

I know that Daddy was the lead counsel on the injunction suit and I believe that in the boxes that I gave Mr. Samoluk yesterday are the contents of that injunction suit that was held before Christenberry.

What else may be there may simply be the contents of the civil damage action and perhaps Clay's will file, which, if it is his will file, I believe would be privileged and since there's nobody to ask if we could make it available, I don't believe that we can. I believe that that remains, but for the public matters, public record matters, very confidential. But there's nothing -- if I find it, I will make it all available to you.

I don't believe that either Mr. Dymond or Mr. Panzeca or my Uncle Billy have any records because they have referred people to me. But certainly I would believe that Mr. Dymond and Billy Wegmann and Sal Panzeca should be contacted to see if they have anything in addition to what we retained in our office.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you.


MR. HALL: District Attorney Connick told us that he thought his predecessor in that office presided over at least some thievery that some records were taken that properly belong in the public record. Often the case is that the people who know best what's taken are the people who didn't take them but wish they could find them.

I'm curious whether you would have any suggestions for us about individuals that we might turn our attention who might have private records -- public records now held privately that relate to the actions of District Attorney Garrison.

MS. WEGMANN: I don't but for the copies that were turned over to us as the -- us -- them, I was a baby -- at the defense team. When Mr. Gervich left, he made a copy of Garrison's investigation file up to that point. But it was a Xerox copy and it only goes through the date of his departure, which was sometime in June of 1967. And since Garrison's investigation only started in February, then that's the only copy that we have.

MR. HALL: Well, that's, I think, a particularly important point here because one of the ways at getting at the issue of some of these supposedly missing documents is, in fact, the copies that would have been available to --

MS. WEGMANN: Well, those are included in the records that I turned over to you -- Mr. Samoluk, yesterday.

MR. HALL: So it would be interesting to know the veracity of the essential criminal discovery process and the extent to which it really was shared with the defense. But that's very helpful. I appreciate it very much.

MS. NELSON: You mentioned that Clay Shaw died without heirs. Do you know if he had papers? Do you know what happened to his papers or possessions?

MS. WEGMANN: Clay left his worldly goods, since his mother had died, I believe to Jeff Bidison. But I believe -- I don't know if Mr. Bidison is any longer alive. Edith Stern was a very good friend of Clay's and a staunch supporter, but Mrs. Stern is also dead, deceased. And I really don't know.

I was married in '73 and after that we wrote the briefs, my father and I, to try to sustain the civil action after his death. But what happened to his papers then, I don't know. I became an admiralty attorney and didn't go on to save the world from evil, just save a few boats.

MR. HALL: You really went for the world of the arcane then.

MS. WEGMANN: Right. I did.

MS. NELSON: But the reason I asked is that very often boxes of records survive in a curious way as they are moved about and, you know, you just never know what happened.

MS. WEGMANN: Rosemary James I believe also stayed very close to Mr. Shaw until his death, Mrs. Stern, Father Sheridan is now dead. He was a counselor and a supporter for Clay during the trial, and I, unfortunately, just don't know.

MS. NELSON: That's all right.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Well, thank you very much, Mrs. Wegmann. I think the American public will be forever grateful for your donation of these records, to try to set the record straight.

MS. WEGMANN: Thank you.

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