Opening argument made by Jim
This is the actual opening argument made by New Orleans District Attorney
Jim Garrison in the trial of Clay Shaw for conspiracy to assassinate
President John F. Kennedy. It summarizes the actual case presented in court
against Shaw. The Oliver Stone movie, "JFK" only briefly shows the actual
court case and evidence. Thanks to David Stager for finding this,
From New Orleans District Attorney Records. Garrison handed out xeroxes
of his opening speech to the press, and here is what he said:
The State of Louisiana is required by law in all criminal trials to make an
opening statement to the jury. This statement is merely a blueprint of what
the state intends to prove. It has no probative value and should not be
considered as evidence in the case.
The defendant, Clay L. Shaw, is charged in a bill of indictment with having
willfully and unlawfully conspired with David W. Ferrie, Lee Harvey Oswald
and others to murder John F. Kennedy.
The crime of conspiracy is defined in the Criminal Code of Louisiana as
Criminal conspiracy is the agreement or combination of two or more persons
for the specific purpose of committing any crime; provided that an agreement
or combination to commit a crime shall not amount to a criminal conspiracy
unless, in addition to such agreement or combination, one or more of such
parties does act in furtherance of the object of the agreement or
As required by the definition of criminal conspiracy, the state will prove
the following overt acts:
1. A meeting of Lee Harvey Oswald, David W. Ferrie and the defendant, Clay
L. Shaw, in the apartment of David W. Ferrie at 3330 Louisiana Avenue
Parkway in the city of New Orleans during the month of September 1963.
2. Discussion by Oswald, Ferrie and the defendant, Shaw, of means and
methods of execution of the conspiracy with regard to the assassination of
John F. Kennedy--particularly, the selection and use of rifles to be fired
from multiple directions simultaneously to produce triangulation of
cross-fire, establishing and selecting the routes of escape from the
assassination scene, determination of procedures and the places to be used
for some of the principals to the conspiracy so as to establish alibis on
the date of the assassination.
3. A trip to the West Coast of the United States by Clay L. Shaw during the
month of November 1963.
4. A trip by David W. Ferrie from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Houston, Texas,
on the day of November 22, 1963.
5. Lee Harvey Oswald taking a rifle to the Texas School Book Depository in
Dallas, Texas, on or before November 22, 1963.
The Criminal Code defines murder in the following terms: 1. When the
offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm.
The evidence will show that in New Orleans, in the summer of 1963, Lee
Harvey Oswald was engaged in bizarre activities which made it appear
ostensibly that he was connected with a Cuban organization, although in fact
the evidence indicated that there was no such organization in New Orleans.
This curious activity began on June 16th, when he distributed "Fair Play for
Cuba Committee" leaflets on the Dumaine Street Wharf. This distribution took
place at the docking site of the United States Aircraft Carrier, the U.S.S.
Upon request of the commanding officer of the Wasp, Officer Girod Ray of the
Harbor Police approached Oswald and informed him that he would have to stop
passing out leaflets and leave the wharf area. At this time, Officer Ray
confiscated two pieces of the literature being handed out by Lee Harvey
Oswald. One of these was a leaflet, yellow in color with black print,
entitled "Hands Off Cuba!" The body of the leaflet contained an invitation
to join the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans. The other item
taken by Officer Ray was a pamphlet entitled "The Truth about Cuba,"
published by the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, 799 Broadway, New York 3, New
York. In conjunction with Officer Ray's testimony, the state will offer into
evidence copies of these two pieces of literature.
The evidence will further show that in June 1963 the defendant, Clay Shaw,
was present at a party given in an apartment in the French Quarter of this
city. Among the guests at the party was David Ferrie, a man known as an
accomplished airline pilot. During the course of the party, the conversation
among a small group of those present turned to President John F. Kennedy. In
this group were David Ferrie and the defendant, Clay Shaw. The comment was
made that President Kennedy should be killed and that the job could be best
be done by a rifle. At this point, the defendant, Clay Shaw, suggested that
the man doing the shooting would probably be killed before he could make his
escape. The defendant, after making his observation, turned to Ferrie and
asked if it might not be possible to fly the gunman from the scene of the
shooting to safety. David Ferrie replied that this would be possible. At
this point, the conversation was turned to other subjects.
Later in June of 1963, the defendant, Clay Shaw, was observed speaking to
Lee Harvey Oswald on the lakefront in the city of New Orleans. The defendant
arrived at the lakefront in a large, black four-door sedan, and was there
met by Lee Harvey Oswald, who had walked to the meeting point along the
lakefront from a westerly direction. The defendant and Oswald had a
conversation which lasted approximately fifteen minutes. At the conclusion
of this conversation, the defendant gave Oswald what appeared to be a roll
of money, which he immediately placed in his pocket. In shoving the money
into his pocket, Oswald dropped several leaflets to the ground. These
leaflets were identical with the "Fair Play for Cuba Committee" leaflet
taken from Oswald earlier that month on the Dumaine Street Wharf by Harbor
Police Patrolman Girod Ray.
The evidence will show that on August 9, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was
arrested by members of the New Orleans Police Department as a result of his
becoming involved in a fight with several Cubans who were protesting his
passing out "Fair Play for Cuba Committee" literature. This literature was
confiscated by the New Orleans Police Department. The state will offer into
evidence three of the seized items, one of which is a yellow leaflet with
black print entitled "Hands Off Cuba!" This is the same type of leaflet
taken from Oswald at the Dumaine Street Wharf on June 16, 1963, and also the
same as the leaflet dropped by Oswald at the lakefront in the latter part of
June 1963. The state will also introduce the bureau of identification
photograph taken of Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of his booking.
A week later, on August 16, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was again distributing
"Fair Play for Cuba" leaflets. Once again the distribution was done more as
if to attract attention than to actually accomplish distribution. The actual
distribution lasted only a few minutes, ending shortly after the news media
departed. The state will introduce pictures and a television tape of this
distribution, which took place in front of the International Trade Mart,
whose managing director at the time was the defendant, Clay Shaw.
The state will show further that in the latter part of August or the early
part of September 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald went to Jackson, Louisiana, a small
town located not far from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While in Jackson, he
talked to witnesses in reference to his getting a job at the East Louisiana
State Hospital in Jackson, Louisiana, and registering to vote in that
parish, so as to be able to get the job. The state will introduce the
witnesses who talked to Lee Harvey Oswald on this occasion.
The state will show that shortly thereafter, still in late August or early
September 1963, the defendant, Clay L. Shaw, Lee Harvey Oswald and David W.
Ferrie drove into Clinton, Louisiana--which is very close to Jackson--in a
black Cadillac, parking the Cadillac near the voter registrar's office on
St. Helena Street. While the defendant, Clay L. Shaw, and David W. Ferrie
remained in the car, Lee Harvey Oswald got out of the car and got in line
with a group of people who were waiting to register.
The state will introduce witnesses who will testify that they saw the black
Cadillac parked in front of the registrar's office and who will identify the
defendant, Clay L. Shaw, Lee Harvey Oswald and David W. Ferrie as the
individuals in that car.
The state will introduce a witness who talked to the defendant, Clay L.
Shaw, on this occasion. In asking Mr. Shaw for his identification, he was
told by the defendant that he (Shaw) was from the International Trade Mart
in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The state will introduce a witness who will identify Lee Harvey Oswald as
the person he talked to in the registrar's office and who will also identify
the defendant, Clay Shaw, and David W. Ferrie as the two men seated in the
black Cadillac that brought Lee Harvey Oswald to Clinton, Louisiana.
The state will also introduce into evidence a photograph of a black Cadillac
car that the witnesses will identify as either the same car or one identical
to the one that they saw in Clinton that day.
The evidence will show that in the month of September 1963 the defendant,
Clay Shaw, David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald participated in a meeting in
which plans for the murder of President John F. Kennedy were discussed and
refined. This meeting took place in David Ferrie's apartment at 3330
Louisiana Avenue Parkway in the city of New Orleans. Shaw (using the name of
Clem Bertrand), Ferrie and Oswald (using the first name of Leon) discussed
details of the conspiracy in the presence of Perry Raymond Russo, after
Ferrie gave assurance that Russo was all right.
The plan brought forth was that the President would be killed with a
triangulation of cross fire with at least two gunmen, but preferably three,
shooting at the same time. One of the gunmen, it was indicated, might have
to be sacrificed as a scapegoat or patsy to allow the other participants
time to make their escape. No one indicated to Oswald at the meeting that he
was going to be the scapegoat and there was no indication of any awareness
on his part of such an eventuality.
They also discussed alternate routes of escape, including the possibility of
flying to other countries. The defendant and David Ferrie agreed that as
part of the plan they would make sure they were not at the scene of the
assassination. Their plan for the day of the shooting was to be engaged in a
conspicuous activity in the presence of as many people as possible. The
defendant, Shaw, stated he would go to the West Coast of the United States.
Ferrie, not as positive about his alibi, said he thought he might make a
speech at a college in Hammond, Louisiana. As the state will show, Shaw made
his way to the West Coast and Ferrie, after his long drive back from Texas,
made his way to Hammond, Louisiana, where he slept, not in a hotel room, but
on a bed in a college dormitory.
By a month after the meeting, Lee Oswald had moved into a rooming house in
Dallas under an assumed name. By the following month when the time for the
President's parade arrived, Oswald was on the parade route at the Texas
School Book Depository, where a job had been found for him. By the night of
Friday, November 22nd, the President was dead, Ferrie was driving through a
thunderstorm to Houston, Texas, and the defendant, Shaw, was out on the West
Coast. Lee Oswald, however, was in a Dallas jail ending up as the scapegoat.
As to the planning--the conspiracy--our jurisdiction is limited to New
Orleans, although we will later offer evidence concerning the assassination
in Dealey Plaza in Dallas because it confirms the existence of a conspiracy
and because it confirms the significance and relevance of the planning which
occurred in New Orleans.
It is the position of the State of Louisiana that, regardless of the power
which might bring about the execution of a President of the United States,
whether it be initiated by a small group or the highest possible force,
neither the planning of his murder nor any part of it, will be regarded in
Louisiana as being above the law.
And so, with David Ferrie now dead and Lee Oswald now dead, the state is
bringing to trial Mr. Shaw for his role--as revealed by evidence--in
participating in the conspiracy to murder John F. Kennedy.
Returning our attention to the cluttered apartment of David Ferrie, the
evidence will show that Perry Russo had been a fairly close friend of David
Ferrie for some time prior to the meeting between the defendant, Ferrie and
Lee Harvey Oswald.
The evidence further will show that Perry Russo first met Lee Harvey Oswald
at David Ferrie's apartment shortly before the principal meeting between the
named conspirators took place. At this meeting Oswald, who was cleaning a
bolt-action rifle with a telescopic sight, was introduced to Russo by Ferrie
as Leon. Perry Russo saw Lee Harvey Oswald at Ferrie's apartment at least
once after the meeting of the conspirators. On this occasion Oswald appeared
to be having some difficulty with his wife and he gave Russo the impression
he was leaving town.
Russo also had seen the defendant Shaw, once before the meeting. This was at
the Nashville Street Wharf at the time President Kennedy was speaking there
in the spring of 1962. The defendant, Shaw, also was seen by Russo with
David Ferrie subsequent to the assassination at Ferrie's service station in
In connection with the testimony of Perry Russo, the state will introduce
into evidence pictures of the defendant, David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald,
as well as pictures of the exterior and interior of David Ferrie's apartment
at 3330 Louisiana Avenue Parkway, and other corroborating evidence.
The evidence will further show that the defendant in accordance with the
plan, and in furtherance of it, did in fact head for the West Coast of the
United States--ostensibly to make a speech--on November 15, 1963. He
remained there until after President Kennedy's assassination on November 22,
1963, thereby establishing an alibi for himself for the day of the shooting.
The state will offer into evidence a ledger sheet of travel consultants and
testimony which reflects the arrangements made by the defendant, Shaw, to go
to the West Coast. This travel consultant firm--which in 1963 was located in
the International Trade Mart--was the same firm which arranged for Lee
Oswald to go to Europe, from which he went to Russia, several years earlier.
The state will show that Ferrie drove to Houston on the day of the
assassination, departing from New Orleans on the evening of November
22--some hours after the President was killed and two days before Lee Oswald
was killed. Ferrie drove, with two young companions, through a severe storm
for the ostensible purpose of going ice skating in Houston. Upon arriving in
Houston, Ferrie and his companions went to the Winterland Skating Rink,
where Ferrie loudly and repeatedly introduced himself to the manager of the
rink. Despite the fact that he had driven all the way from New Orleans to
Houston for the purpose of ice skating, David Ferrie never put on any ice
skates at all. While his young friends skated, Ferrie stood by the public
pay phone as if waiting for a call.
With regard to the assassination itself, the state will establish that on
November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and Governor John Connally, who
was riding in the same limousine, were wounded as a result of gunshots fired
by different guns at different locations. Furthermore, the state will show
that President Kennedy himself was struck by a number of bullets coming from
different guns at different locations--thus showing that more than one
person was shooting at the President. The evidence will show that he was
struck in the front as well as the back--and that the final shot which
struck him came from in front of him, knocking him backwards in his car.
Once again, since Lee Oswald was in the Book Depository behind the
President, this will show that a number of men were shooting and that he
was, therefore, killed as the result of a conspiracy.
The state, in showing that a number of guns were fired during the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy, will offer, in addition to
eyewitnesses, various photographs and motion pictures of what transpired in
Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.
First, the state will offer an eight-millimeter color motion picture film
taken by Abraham Zapruder, commonly known as the Zapruder film. This film,
which has not been shown to the public, will clearly show you the effect of
the shots striking the President. In this connection we will also offer
slides and photographs of various individual frames of this film. The state
will request permission from the court to allow you, the jury, to view this
material. Thus, you will be able to see--in color motion picture--the
President as he is being struck by the various bullets and you will be able
to see him fall backwards as the fatal shot strikes him from the front--not
the back but the front.
The evidence will show that shortly after the assassination of President
Kennedy, on November 25, 1963, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
interviewed Dean A. Andrews, Jr., in his room at Hotel Dieu hospital in New
Orleans. As a result of this interview with Dean Andrews, a local attorney,
the bureau began a systematic and thorough for a "Clay Bertrand."
A man who identified himself as "Clay Bertrand" called Andrews the day after
the President's assassination requesting him to defend Lee Harvey Oswald,
who by then had been formally charged with the murder of John F. Kennedy.
The state will introduce evidence in the course of this case showing that
the defendant, Clay Shaw, and the "Clay Bertrand" who called Dean Andrews on
behalf of Lee Harvey Oswald, are one and the same person.
The evidence will further show that some time during the year 1966 the
defendant, Clay Shaw, requested the U.S. Post Office to deliver mail
addressed to him at his residence at 1313 Dauphine Street to 1414 Chartres
Street, the residence of a long-time friend, Jeff Biddison. This
change-of-address order was terminated on September 21, 1966. During the
period that the change of address remained in effect, the U.S. Post Office
letter carrier for that route delivered at least five letters to 1414
Chartres Street, addressed to "Clem Bertrand," the name used by the
defendant at the meeting between himself, David Ferrie and Lee harvey Oswald
in Ferrie's apartment in mid-September 1963. None of the letters addressed
to "Clem Bertrand" were ever returned to the postal authorities for any
reason. The period during which these letters addressed to "Clem Bertrand"
were delivered to 1414 Chartres Street preceded by at least six months the
publication of the fact that the Orleans parish District Attorney's office
was investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In fact,
it preceded the start of the investigation by the District Attorney's
office. In connection with this evidence, the state will offer into evidence
the U.S. Post Office forms reflecting this change of address initiated by
the defendant and testimony showing the delivery to that address of mail
addressed to "Clem Bertrand."
It will be shown that in December 1966 the defendant, Clay Shaw, visited the
V.I.P. room of one of the airlines at Moisant Airport and that, while there,
he signed the guest register in the name of "Clay Bertrand." Eyewitness
testimony will be presented and the guest book which he signed will be
introduced into evidence.
The State of Louisiana will ask you to return a verdict of guilty as charged
against the defendant, Clay Shaw.
Jim Garrison's closing summation
One of the most important scenes in the Oliver Stone movie "JFK" is the
closing summation given by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.
The dramatic impact of the scene is impressive and quite convincing that
a conspiracy was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy.
Critics of "JFK" say that Garrison made no such speech. The truth is
that three separate closing summations were presented by the New Orleans
District Attorney's office.
The first was delivered by prosecutor James Alcock. Alcock reiterated
the nuts and bolts of the testimony and evidence presented at trial. He
spoke for an hour and twenty five minutes.
The second was delivered by Alvin Oser, another prosecutor in the case.
Oser spoke for just over an hour and a half, summarizing the Dallas and
Dealey Plaza evidence which supported conspiracy and was heavily
critical of the Warren Report
At this point, Irvin Dymond, Clay Shaw's attorney, gave his single
closing argument. No defense rebuttal was allowed under then existing
Louisiana law. Dymond concentrated on the tenuous link between the
events in Dallas and the actions of his client in New Orleans. Dymond
said he still believed in the integrity of the Unites States government,
claiming that a conspiracy at the level Garrison suggested is
"inconceivable." Dymond summarized the physical, photographic and
medical evidence used in the Warren Report, criticized the reliability
of the witnesses the state had presented and the implausibility of Shaw
ever using the alias "Clay Bertrand," or knowing David Ferrie. Dymond's
focus on disassociating the events in Dallas from Clay Shaw is critical.
Dymond stated it wasn't the basic issue in the case. This is the issue
that ultimately decided Shaw's fate. Dymond's last words were, "I ask
you to vote your conscience, follow the law--and don't make a mistake."
The state was allowed a rebuttal to the defense summation. Alvin Oser
spoke for fifteen minutes, James Alcock spoke again for just under half
an hour, then Garrison himself would finally have the last word.
At 10:55pm, February 28, 1969. Garrison delivered his closing argument.
He handed out copies of the text to the press. From New Orleans District
Attorney Records, this is the actual address Garrison delivered in court
in the trial of Clay Shaw for conspiracy to assassinate President
Kennedy. Thanks to David Stager for finding this.
May it please the court. Gentlemen of the jury. I know you're very
tired. You've been very patient. This final day has been a long one, so
I'll speak only a few minutes. In his argument, Mr. Dymond posed one
final issue which raises the question of what we do when the need for
justice is confronted by power. So, let me talk to you about the
question of whether or not there was government fraud in this case--a
question Mr. Dymond seems to want us to answer. A government is a great
deal like a human being. It's not necessarily all good, and it's not
necessarily all bad. We live in a good country. I love it and you do
too. Nevertheless, the fact remains that we have a government which is
There have been indications since November the 22nd of 1963--and that
was not the last indication--that there is excessive power in some parts
of our government. It is plain that the people have not received all of
the truth about some of the things which have happened, about some of
the assassinations which have occurred--and more particularly about the
assassination of John Kennedy.
Going back to when we were children, I think most of us--probably all of
us here in the courtroom--once thought that justice came into being of
its own accord, that virtue was its own reward, that good would triumph
over evil--in short, that justice occurred automatically. Later, when we
found that this wasn't quite so, most of us still felt hopefully that at
least justice occurred frequently of its own accord.
Today, I think that almost all of us would have to agree that there is
really no machinery--not on this Earth at least--which causes justice to
occur automatically. Men have to make it occur. Individual human beings
have to make it occur. Otherwise, it doesn't come into existence. This
is not always easy. As a matter of fact, it's always hard, because
justice presents a threat to power. In order to make justice come into
being, you often have to fight power.
Mr. Dymond raised the question: Why don't we say it's all a fraud and
charge the government with fraud, if this is the case? Let me be
explicit, then, and make myself very clear on this point.
The government's handling of the investigation of John Kennedy's murder
was a fraud. It was the greatest fraud in the history of our country. It
probably was the greatest fraud ever perpetrated in the history of
humankind. That doesn't mean that we have to accept the continued
existence of the kind of government which allows this to happen. We can
do something about it. We're forced either to leave this country or to
accept the authoritarianism that has developed--the authoritarianism
which tells us that in the year 2029 we can see the evidence about what
happened to John Kennedy.
Government does not consist only of secret police and domestic espionage
operations and generals and admirals--government consists of people. It
also consists of juries. And cases of murder--whether of the poorest
individual or the most distinguished citizen in the land--should be
looked at openly in a court of law, where juries can pass on them and
not be hidden, not be buried like the body of the victim beneath
concrete for countless years.
You men in these recent weeks have heard witnesses that no one else in
the world has heard. You've seen the Zapruder film. You've seen what
happened to your President. I suggest to you that you know right now
that, in that area at least, a fraud has been perpetrated.
That does not mean that our government is entirely bad; and I want to
emphasize that. It does mean, however, that in recent years, through the
development of excessive power because of the Cold War, forces have
developed in our government over which there is no control and these
forces have an authoritarian approach to justice--meaning, they will let
you know what justice is.
Well, my reply to them is that we already know what justice is. It is
the decision of the people passing on the evidence. It is the jury
system. In this issue which is posed by the government's conduct in
concealing the evidence in this case--in the issue of humanity as
opposed to power--I have chosen humanity, and I will do it again without
any hesitation. I hope every one of you will do the same. I do this
because I love my country and because I want to communicate to the
government that we will not accept unexplained assassinations with the
casual information that if we live seventy-five years longer, we might
be given more evidence.
In this particular case, massive power was brought to bear to prevent
justice from ever coming into this courtroom. The power to make
authoritive pronouncements, the power to manipulate the news media by
the release of false information, the power to interfere with an honest
inquiry and the power to provide an endless variety of experts to
testify in behalf of power, repeatedly was demonstrated in this case.
The American people have yet to see the Zapruder film. Why? The American
people have yet to see and hear from the real witnesses to the
assassination. Why? Because, today in America too much emphasis is given
to secrecy, with regard to the assassination of our President, and not
enough emphasis is given to the question of justice and to the question
These dignified deceptions will not suffice. We have had enough of power
without truth. We don't have to accept power without truth or else leave
the country. I don't accept either of these two alternatives. I don't
intend to leave the country and I don't intend to accept power without
I intend to fight for the truth. I suggest that not only is this not
un-American, but it is the most American thing we can do--because if the
truth does not endure, then our country will not endure.
In our country the worst of all crimes occurs when the government
murders truth. If it can murder truth, it can murder freedom. If it can
murder freedom, it can murder your own sons--if they should dare to
fight for freedom-- and then it can announce that they were killed in an
industrial accident, or shot by the "enemy" or God knows what.
In this case, finally, it has been possible to bring the truth about the
assassination into a court of law--not before a commission composed of
important and powerful and politically astute men, but before a jury of
Now, I suggest to you that yours is a hard duty, because in a sense what
you're passing on is equivalent to a murder case. The difficult thing
about passing on a murder case is that the victim is out of your sight
and buried a long distance away, and all you can see is the defendant.
It's very difficult to identify with someone you can't see, and
sometimes it's hard not to identify to some extent with the defendant
and his problems.
In that regard, every prosecutor who is at all humane is conscious of
feeling sorry for the defendant in every case he prosecutes. But he is
not free to forget the victim who lies buried out of sight. I suggest to
you that, if you do your duty, you also are not free to forget the
victim who is buried out of sight.
You know, Tennyson once said that, "authority forgets a dying king."
This was never more true than in the murder of John Kennedy. The strange
and deceptive conduct of the government after his murder began while his
body was warm, and has continued for five years. You have seen in this
courtroom indications of the interest of part of the government power
structure in keeping the truth down, in keeping the grave closed.
We presented a number of eyewitnesses as well as an expert witness as
well as the Zapruder film, to show that the fatal wound of the President
came from the front. A plane landed from Washington and out stepped Dr.
Finck for the defense, to counter the clear and apparent evidence of a
shot from the front. I don't have to go into Dr. Finck's testimony in
detail for you to show that it simply did not correspond with the facts.
He admitted that he did not complete the autopsy because a general told
him not to complete the autopsy.
In this conflict between power and justice--to put it that way--just
where do you think Dr. Finck stands? A general, who was not a
pathologist, told him not to complete the autopsy, so he didn't complete
it. This is not the way I want my country to be. When our President is
killed he deserves the kind of autopsy that the ordinary citizen gets
every day in the State of Louisiana. And the people deserve the facts
about it. We can't have government power suddenly interjecting itself
and preventing the truth form coming to the people.
Yet in this case, before the sun rose the next morning, power had moved
into the situation and the truth was being concealed. And now, five
years later in this courtroom the power of the government in concealing
the truth is continuing in the same way.
We presented eyewitnesses who told you of the shots coming from the
grassy knoll. A plane landed from Washington, and out came ballistics
expert Frazier for the defense. Mr. Frazier's explanation of the sound
of the shots coming from the front, which was heard by eyewitness after
eyewitness, was that Lee Oswald created a sonic boom in his firing. Not
only did Oswald break all of the world's records for marksmanship, but
he broke the sound barrier as well.
I suggest to you, that if any of you have shot on a firing range--and
most of you probably have in the service--you were shooting rifles in
which the bullet traveled faster than the speed of sound. I ask you to
recall if you ever heard a sonic boom. If you remember when you were on
the firing line, and they would say, "Ready on the left; ready on the
right; ready on the firing line; commence firing," you heard the shots
coming from the firing line--to the left of you and to the right of you.
If you had heard, as a result of Frazier's fictional sonic boom, firing
coming at you from the pits, you would have had a reaction which you
would still remember.
Mr. Frazier's sonic boom simply doesn't exist. It's part of the fraud--
a part of the continuing government fraud.
The best way to make this country the kind of country it's supposed to
be is to communicate to the government that no matter how powerful it
may be, we do not accept these frauds. We do not accept these false
announcements. We do not accept the concealment of evidence with regard
to the murder of President Kennedy. Who is the most believable: a
Richard Randolph Carr, seated here in a wheelchair and telling you what
he saw and what he heard and how he was told to shut his mouth--or Mr.
Frazier with his sonic booms? Do we really have to reject Mr. Newman and
Mrs. Newman and Mr. Carr and Roger Craig and the testimony of all those
honest witnesses--reject all this and accept the fraudulent Warren
Commission, or else leave the country?
I suggest to you that there are other alternatives. One of them has been
put in practice in the last month in the State of Louisiana--and that is
to bring out the truth in a proceeding where attorneys can
cross-examine, where the defendant can be confronted by testimony
against him, where the rules of evidence are applied and where a jury of
citizens can pass on it--and where there is no government secrecy. Above
all, where you do not have evidence concealed for seventy-five years in
the name of "national security."
All we have in this case are the facts--facts which show that the
defendant participated in the conspiracy to kill the President and that
the President was subsequently killed in an ambush.
The reply of the defense has been the same as the early reply of the
government in the Warren Commission. It has been authority, authority,
authority. The President's seal outside of each volume of the Warren
Commission Report--made necessary because there is nothing inside these
volumes, only men of high position and prestige sitting on a Board, and
announcing the results to you, but not telling you what the evidence is,
because the evidence has to be hidden for seventy-five years.
You heard in this courtroom in recent weeks, eyewitness after eyewitness
after eyewitness and, above all, you saw one eyewitness which was
indifferent to power--the Zapruder film. The lens of the camera is
totally indifferent to power and it tells what happened as it saw it
happen--and that is one of the reasons 200 million Americans have not
seen the Zapruder film. They should have seen it many times. They should
know exactly what happened. They all should know what you know now. Why
hasn't all of this come into being if there hasn't been government
fraud? Of course there has been fraud by the government.
But I'm telling you now that I think we can do something about it. I
think that there are still enough Americans left in this country to make
it continue to be America. I think that we can still fight
authoritarianism--the government's insistence on secrecy, government
force used in counterattacks against an honest inquiry--and when we do
that, we're not being un-American, we're being American. It isn't easy.
You're sticking your neck out in a rather permanent way, but it has to
be done because truth does not come into being automatically. Individual
men, like the members of my staff here, have to work and fight to make
it happen--and individual men like you have to make justice come into
being because otherwise is doesn't happen.
What I'm trying to tell you is that there are forces in America today,
unfortunately, which are not in favor of the truth coming out about John
Kennedy's assassination. As long as our government continues to be like
this, as long as such forces can get away with such actions, then this
is no longer the country in which we were born.
The murder of John Kennedy was probably the most terrible moment in the
history of our country. Yet, circumstances have placed you in the
position where not only have you seen the hidden evidence but you are
actually going to have the opportunity to bring justice into the picture
for the first time.
Now, you are here sitting in judgment on Clay Shaw. Yet you, as men,
represent more than jurors in an ordinary case because of the victim in
this case. You represent, in a sense, the hope of humanity against
government power. You represent humanity, which yet may triumph over
excessive government power-- if you will cause it to be so, in the
course of doing your duty in this case.
I suggest that you ask not what your country can do for you but what you
can do for your country.
What can you do for your country? You can cause justice to happen for
the first time in this matter. You can help make our country better by
showing that this is still a government of the people. And if you do
that, as long as you live, nothing will ever be more important.