Jim Garrison Lied About Being in the Courtroom During Key Testimony

A Vivid Account of Clay Shaw's Testimony Was Fabricated

Lying About Being in the Courtroom

by John Locke

One of the things that has always mystified me about On the Trail of the Assassins is how Garrison treated Shaw's testimony on the witness stand. Garrison's monumental case took two years to develop, generated heaps of national publicity, and built toward the questioning of the President's putative assassination sponsor on the witness stand in a court of law. Three hundred pages of On the Trail . . . build toward the moment and then this is all Garrison has to say:
[Shaw] took the stand and testified--under oath--that he had never known Oswald, never used the alias Clay Bertrand, and never called Dean Andrews. And most amazingly of all, he testified that he had never even met David Ferrie.
Garrison shares none of Shaw's testimony with the reader. Worse still, he omits any mention of Shaw's cross-examination by the prosecution team. A look into American Grotesque spells out the form the cross-examination took:
...So far the questioning on [Assistant District Attorney] Alcock's part was syllogistic, with the primary charge, that of conspiracy to assassinate the President, omitted and the possible secondary links of connection exploited at length. We waited for the whammy.

[More tangential questions related to Shaw's possible roommates, Shaw's maid, Shaw's limp, etc., then Alcock suddenly said, "No further questions."]

A silence of pure stunned surprise. The cross-examination had lasted sixty-five minutes and Alcock had not even asked Clay Shaw if he'd conspired to assassinate the President.

But maybe Garrison's abbreviated account of Shaw's testimony stems from the fact that Garrison wasn't even there! You wouldn't know that from On the Trail of the Assassins, though. Garrison lies about his presence in the courtroom:
I was seated near Jim Alcock at the prosecutors' table and was just lighting up my pipe when I heard [Shaw's attorney] Irvin Dymond call "Clay Shaw."
But the truth is quite different:
I [author Kirkwood] suddenly glanced toward the prosecution table; Jim Garrison was still missing. It had never occurred to me that the District Attorney would default when it came time to hear the man he'd held captive for two years reply to him. It was not merely a matter of manners. This absence suffered from a final lack of grace at the moment of ultimate confrontation. I would have thought he would be there out of just plain curiosity. It was incredible that he was missing.
And later:
One of the local reporters assured me Garrison would put in an appearance for the cross-examination, but as the courtroom settled down and the rear doors were closed, there was no sign of him.
And as affirmed by the New York Times (Martin Waldron) of February 28, 1969:
District Attorney Jim Garrison was not in the courtroom during Mr. Shaw's testimony.
Can any of the Garrison worshippers explain why it is that The Great Crusading Prosecutor wasn't in court when Shaw took the stand? And why does Garrison claim he was there? And why doesn't the prosecution team even ask whether Shaw committed the crime he was accused of?

Stone repeatedly showed Garrison in court. Why is that significant? It's the difference between Garrison having a strong case and Garrison lowering his profile to avoid the embarrassment of personally conducting a sham prosecution.

[Quotes excerpted from On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, Chapter 18, "The Trial of Clay Shaw"; and American Grotesque by James Kirkwood, Chapter 35, "Clay L. Shaw."]

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