Evolution of a Garrison Lie



On the very first page of his 1988 memoirs, Jim Garrison writes, "While the jury accepted my argument that there had been a conspiracy, it was not then aware of Shaw's role as a clandestine CIA operative. Unconvinced of his motivation, the jury acquitted him of the charges" (OTTOTA, 1991 ed., xi-xii).

As usual, Big Jim Garrison is, to coin a phrase, lying through his teeth.

Jury foreman Sidney Hebert told James Kirkwood, "Actually the whole case rested on the testimony of Perry Russo. And his testimony didn't prove a thing to me" (James Kirkwood, *American Grotesque,* 508).

Juror Oliver Schultz told Kirkwood, "[W]e all had the same opinion, that it wasn't enough to convict him. As far as -- you know you had to have -- beyond a reasonable doubt. Well, to me, I still had PLENTY of doubts [emphasis in original]. I mean one way or the other. But we all had the same opinion. . . . [B]eginning with Perry Russo. That was his main witness. And when he could come up with that idea that it could have been a bull session. I mean to me, if I was going to conspire to kill somebody I sure wouldn't let somebody in and out like he [Russo] claimed he was walking in and out, especially on a party" (Ibid., 512).

Juror David Powe asked Jim Kirkwood an extraordinary question: "I would still like to know where Clay Shaw's name came from. . . . It was not brought out at the trial. . . . How did his name get in the hat to be pulled out? This frankly is the question that's being asked. If he's not guilty, why pick Clay Shaw? Why not pick somebody else?" (Ibid., 518) Powe remarked upon the number of people he met who believed Shaw was guilty simply because he'd been accused: "It's not particularly Clay Shaw. It's anybody. If it was David Powe or Jim Kirkman [sic] -- it's not a man, it's a name and it's not really a name anymore. It's the government. . . . They feel like the man would have been proven guilty if the government had said, Okay, take whatever you want out of the Archives, take whatever you want" (Ibid, 517).

Kirkwood asked juror Larry Morgan what he thought the weakest part of Garrison's case was. "Well, the whole thing," Morgan replied. "I was surprised. I just couldn't picture the type of case the state put on. The caliber of witnesses was totally unbelievable for the seriousness of the case. That's my opinion. . . . After it was all over, it was, like -- wow, what happened! What -- that's it? We just couldn't imagine the state had brought up a case against Clay Shaw -- absolutely nothing! . . . There was just no possibility, there was no question but what the jury would find Clay Shaw innocent" (Ibid., 550).

Juror Charles Ordes told Kirkwood, "I kept waiting for the state to present a case. I don't think they had enough to get this far. I was surprised that it was even presented on this evidence. I was just waiting for something to happen. I just kept waiting, you know, something's gonna come up. I just can't see where they had a case. I feel the grand jury should have stopped him" (Ibid., 557).

Alternate juror Bob Burlet -- who, as a prank, submitted a GUILTY vote before taking his leave of the proceedings -- told Kirkwood, "Yes, I thought the verdict would be not guilty. . . . I'd have voted the same way" (Ibid., 554).

A few days after the end of the Clay Shaw trial, Jim Garrison was interviewed on local television by Alex Gifford. He said something that helps to illustrate the way the man's mind worked.

Following the trial, the jurors spoke to the press and were very clear about why they had voted to acquit. Juror Larry Morgan, for example, said he could not believe how weak the state's case was (Patricia Lambert, False Witness, 161).

(For more of the jurors' reactions: http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/jimlie5.htm)

But when Alex Gifford asked the DA, "Why did you lose the case?" Garrison did not refer to the jurors' actual comments.

Garrison complained about "the restrictive rules of evidence" and the difficulty of proving what he called "a domestic espionage situation in an Anglo-Saxon courtroom." He lamented his ostensible decision not to use certain witnesses at trial. The issue he dwelled upon, however, was motive.

"[W]e don't have to prove motive in conspiracy," he noted. ". . . But I would say that were I on the jury I would be concerned about the lack of motive" (Kirkwood, 491).

In an interview with James Kirkwood a few days later, Garrison again raised the subject, albeit in a curious way. He implied to Kirkwood that Clay Shaw was secretly working for some government agency -- "Most likely the CIA," he said, "you see, and there is the motive, and it hurt our case that this could not be proven in court. Although motive is not a necessary part of the conspiracy law, still it's -- people want to know, what is the motive?" (Kirkwood, 574)

When the CIA later revealed that Shaw had formerly been a contact of the Agency's Domestic Contact Service (from 1949 to 1956), supplying DCS with routine business information, this apparently translated, in Garrison's mind, to Shaw having had some kind of role in 1963 as a "clandestine CIA operative" (Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991 ed., xi-xii).

This was not true. In fact, as Victor Marchetti has noted, DCS is the one arm of the CIA that does not conduct itself in clandestine fashion:


"While the jury accepted my argument that there had been a conspiracy," Garrison writes in his memoirs, "it was not then aware of Shaw's role as a clandestine CIA operative. Unconvinced of his motivation, the jury acquitted him of the charges" (Garrison, xi-xii).

Not only is Garrison misstating the facts about Shaw, but where he'd once said, "were I on the jury, I would be concerned about the lack of motive" (Kirkwood, 491), now he was claiming that the ACTUAL jurors had said that.

But the jurors "all had the same opinion," as juror Oliver Schultz told James Kirkwood (American Grotesque, 512).

As juror Larry Morgan put it, Jim Garrison had "absolutely nothing!" (Kirkwood, 550)



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