Jim Garrison Lied about the Attempt of his staff to extract testimony with threats and money

Did the Jury Lack Only "Motive" to Convict Shaw?

Lying About What the Jurors Said

by Dave Reitzes

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" (On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991 ed., xi-xii).

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

Not only was Clay Shaw never a "clandestine CIA operative," but the CIA was not even for a moment implicated in Garrison's case. Furthermore, motivation was never a factor in the jurors' minds; the State was not even required to prove one in a conspiracy case. Why did the jurors really return a verdict of "Not Guilty"?

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).

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