Andy Sciambra left for Washington to check on the VIP Room matter. He is going to interview three or four people there whose names appeared in the book. They nearly got me to do it when I was in Washington at Christmas, but I think they figured it was too likely I would come back with a "negative." Apparently Sciambra is the man they put on the job when there is any chance that a potential witness may be wavering.
Change of venue hearing proceeded. Garrison not in office.
After the proceedings were over today, Bertel and Alcock and Ivon were talking about the potential jurors. Bertel made the point that you can tell in a minute what kind of a juror you have got, and what his attitude is likely to be in the case. This was my impression after a short visit to the courtroom this afternoon. Then Bertel made the remark: "Once you get into the upper economic and intellectual level, you know you've got problems." This had been my impression too, looking at it from the point of view of the prosecution.
It is a depressing reflection on the system of justice here that it is to the DA's advantage to get as stupid a jury as possible. Depressing, but no doubt true. The DA's office would be likely to adhere to this adage in all cases and (and I have no doubt this applies to all DA's offices) but it is particularly true in the Shaw case. As I came out of the court room today I reflected that the best hope for Shaw is for him to get a smart jury. But he probably won't, because not too many of the people on the jury panels seem to be bright, and the state will undoubtedly object when the bright ones come up.
The advantage ought to lie with the defense, because a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and thus the burden is on the state to prove its case. However, a dumb jury will tend not to notice when the state in fact has not proved its case, and therefore will be liable to find an innocent man guilty. Theoretically, the reverse problem ought also to crop up with a stupid jury -- that of failing to detect that a guilty man is in fact guilty. But this would seem to be a fairly unlikely occurrence because there really is such a tremendous presumption of guilt when a man is brought to trial. (As F. Lee Bailey pointed out on TV the other day. If a man is brought to trial, he said, possibly as much as 90% of the people thereby believe that he is guilty.)
In this case an unintelligent jury will be particularly to Shaw's disadvantage. The case is unusually complex, and if the all-important evidentiary issues are clouded by such emotional events as the showing of the Zapruder film, I would estimate that Shaw is indeed likely to be convicted. Also, the overall subject of the assassination, and in particular the fact that Oswald was shot before coming to trial, makes it more likely that Shaw will be convicted. Judging from the reaction to the books on the Warren Report, etc., the American public feels that it has been deprived of something in not having an Oswald trial, and there may be a desire to make up for this loss -- with a vengeance -- at the Shaw trial.
Some of the Warren Commission critics, and particularly Mark Lane, have from the start adopted the notion that the proper place to arrive at the truth about the assassination is in the court-room. Now that I am beginning to learn that the Warren Commission established far more of the truth than a court of law trying Oswald would have done, (that is assuming, of course, that Oswald's own testimony did not materially aid to what he had already told in the Dallas police station.) All you can get into the court-room is material relevant to the guilt or innocence of the accused -- Garrison certainly is not going to be able to use the court to air a whole body of information about the assassination that the Warren Commission did not utilize -- unless it is relevant to Shaw's guilt.
It is worth noting that all of Garrison's anti-Warren Commission ammunition is taken from the 26 volumes of the Warren Report. I cannot think of any witnesses he has dug up himself who know anything about the assassination.
There is something ironical about the Zapruder film, and the uses it may be and might have been put to. Apparently it will be used at the Shaw trial to prove that Shaw was guilty. It might also very well have been used at the Oswald trial to prove that Oswald was innocent -- and Oswald and Shaw are alleged to be co-conspirators. The Shaw trial: Zapruder film -- shots from the front, therefore conspiracy, therefore (!) Shaw part of it. Oswald trial: Zapruder film: shots from the front, Oswald not in front, therefore Oswald innocent. For Oswald to have been acquitted by this line of argument, however, one must presume that Oswald was not a part of a conspiracy. I don't know whether this would appeal to the Warren Commission critics or not. They all want a conspiracy, but they are uncertain -- or seem to be -- as to whether they want Oswald to be a part of it. In fact, surely this much is certain: if there was a conspiracy, Oswald was very much a part of it.
It occurred to me today, in the aftermath of the change of venue hearing and after reflecting on the dangers of the jury system, that in one way to publicity which Shaw's lawyers have complained about may be ultimately what will save him. The press will be there in force at the trial, and ready to yell "foul" at the first opportunity. (Except the Times Picayune, no doubt.) Their presence will thereby create a certain amount of pressure in the direction of justice. Judge, jury, and in fact everyone will tend to be on their best behavior. I think Haggerty will just about have to be more objective at the trial that he has been recently. If Shaw is unfairly convicted (ie., convicted) the he will no doubt be glad to have the press around at that point, because at that stage accurate reporting etc. would tend to protect his interests. The press have given Garrison a great deal of free publicity, but ultimately Shaw will be much better off with the press than without one at all. I'm sure that Garrison has already been considerably inhibited by the press–he realizes there is a limit to what he can get away with.
(a) Subpoena of Ruth Paine.The report from Lynn Loisel was that Garrison was annoyed about the "communication problem" in the office, and was beginning to hope that he would be removed from office. By "communication problem" he means that he is encountering some difficulty in getting members of his staff to do exactly what he wants and to agree with what he says.
(b) that Bill Gurvich be charged with theft of $19 for taking some DA's files when he left the office last June.
(c) Subpoena of David Chandler to testify before the grand jury as to his knowledge of the assassination, (not organized crime.)
Nobody in the office seems to think that charging Gurvich with theft is a good idea, and that it will just come across publicly as a piece of vindictiveness. Alcock says he will not sign the charge sheet. He said not as much as he would have if Garrison had had his way. Ivon said that there was a regular distribution of office memos, and that Gurvich was on that distribution. Ivon was in charge of getting the xeroxing done and handing out the documents to the people concerned. However, he says, he soon realized that Gurvich probably wouldn't stay with the office for long -- apparently Gurvich used to openly voice doubts about the case in front of the staff -- and Ivon then decided to give Gurvich only relatively unimportant materials. Ivon also is not in favor of charging Gurvich, although he is more guarded about it than Alcock.
Billings told me that the FBI was well aware of our interest in Clinton, and that when Sciambra went off on his trips there they were actually following him in a car. Billings seemed quite confident of this, but I'm not so sure I believe it. I remember Sciambra telling me that when he went to Clinton with Boxley, he became exhausted by Boxley constantly warning that any car that came near them was an FBI car, etc, and I suspect that Billings may have gotten his information from Boxley.
Of course, there is another reason why the office is interested to know what the FBI thinks of the Clinton episode: there is a very real (and well-grounded) suspicion that the car in Clinton, with occupants observing the voter registration line, was a Justice Department car. There is a possibility that the defense will be able to produce a cast iron rebuttal along these lines, and Alcock, Sciambra etc. are anxious to find out if this is likely to be the case.
At any rate, there was annoyance in the office that the FBI should play with its cards so close to its chest.
Jim Rose now in town, potentially being hired as an extra investigator. Work started on drawing up subpoena for Ruth Paine.
Gary Sanders is working on the Alexander Eames nonsense (Eames lived next door to Oswald on Magazine Street.) Sanders seems to be beginning to change, referring to Garrison today as "conspiracy minded," and saying that he disagrees with Garrison that Eames represents some kind of a "control figure" over Oswald. The whole "4900 Magazine" area which Garrison is so interested in seems to be a waste of time.
David Wise's article about the classified documents in the National Archives came out in the Saturday Evening Post today. Garrison studied it with unusual attention and came into my office with a copy of the magazine. He put it down on my desk -- he had underlined parts and written comments in the margin -- and said, "It represents a retreat to a fortified position." (Garrison constantly makes use of military metaphors -- often combined with humor.) He obviously is not entirely displeased with this article, which in some respects contradicts what he has said -- eg that LBJ signed an executive order which keeps the classified documents in the Archives under lock and key -- but in other respects corroborates what he has said -- that there are plenty of classified documents, some with interesting-sounding titles.
Zapruder film is to be forwarded to the office by Life. I am slightly surprised that they put up no legal fight at all -- just simply surrendered it. No doubt they will send us a copy.
Sciambra still in Washington checking on three or four potential witnesses to the VIP Room matter. Rose was hired as an investigator and is being sent to Florida to check out the Masferrer angle -- on information provided us by Lawrence Howard, as far as I can tell. (Garrison maybe feels obliged to have an investigator in Miami as he is employing funds provided by an "industrialist" in Miami. Garrison probably told the industrialist that there were plenty of leads that needed checking out in Miami, if only he had the money. Nevertheless, Masferrer seems like a waste of time.)
In reply to a question from the audience yesterday, in California, Bobby Kennedy made the remark that he had seen everything in the National Archives, and there was no indication of conspiracy. I called up AP office here to try to get exact wording. It is, after all, unlikely that Kennedy has put in the months necessary to see everything in the Archives. Still, he may be right about his conclusion.
Kerry Thornley arrived for arraignment for his perjury charge. He pleaded not guilty. He had no lawyer, thus making nonsense of Garrison's claim that he is protected by the CIA, as Jim Alcock pointed out.
I spent some time working on Ruth Paine's testimony, in preparation for her grand jury testimony.
On Thursday, Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis. Bobby Kennedy was to have come here this week-end, but he canceled all his engagements. Garrison returned a day or so after King was shot, but did not come into the office, and surprised everyone by making no statements about the latest assassination. As far as I know, there has so far been no reaction from Garrison.