The Clay Shaw trial testimony of John Manchester

JOHN MANCHESTER, a witness called by and on behalf of the State, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
Q: Please state your name for the record.
A: John Manchester.
Q: What is your address, Mr. Manchester?
A: Box 42, Clinton, Louisiana.
Q: And how long have you been living there?
A: Since 1962.
Q: And what is your occupation?
A: Town Marshal, Clinton, Louisiana.
Q: And how long have you been a Town Marshal in Clinton, Louisiana?
A: Since that time.
Q: You were so employed in 1963?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: In connection with your duties as Town Marshal, I call your attention to late August or early September, 1963, and ask you if anything unusual was happening in Clinton at that time?
A: Yes, sir. We had a voter registration drive going on there at that time.
Q: I am sorry. Who was sponsoring that voter registration drive?
A: Congress of Racial Equality.
THE COURT: Who is that?
Q: Was that all during the summer of 1963?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Will you speak a little louder, please, sir.
A: Yes.
Q: In connection with the voter registration drive going on, what were your duties around Clinton at that time?
A: Just to maintain law and order and to try to keep out the outside agitation that was attempting to infiltrate.
THE COURT: Speak into the microphone.
A: (Continuing) Just keep law and order, maintain law and order.
Q: Were there many people in town for this voter registration drive?
A: They had quite a few outsiders coming in, yes, sir.
Q: Were you the only law enforcement agent on duty at the time?
A: No, sir, we had other law enforcement but it was -- I was the primary law enforcement officer to take care of this special operation.
Q: Besides local law enforcement agents, were there any other law enforcement agents in town?
A: Yes, sir, the FBI was there.
Q: What was the purpose of the FBI?
A: Well, I don't really know their purpose there other than just observing.
Q: Were you assigned to any particular location during this drive?
A: Yes, sir, I was assigned to the immediate vicinity of the Registrar of Voters' office to keep down any disturbances that might result from this voter registration drive going on.
Q: Now, where is the voter registration office located in Clinton, Louisiana?
A: It is on St. Helena Street in Clinton.
Q: Is that the main street?
A: That is the main street, it is the main highway going through Clinton.
Q: And this is where you spent most of your time?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Were there many strange cars in town that day, or cars that weren't familiar to you?
A: Yes, sir, there was a few strange cars, and if they were strange I would know them. I mean the town is small enough that I kept trying to keep up with all strange automobiles in that vicinity.
Q: Did you notice any strange car in particular that day in connection with where you were stationed?
A: Yes, sir, I did.
Q: Could you describe that car?
A: Yes, sir. It was a '61 or '62 Cadillac somewhere, I guess this model. It was black and it was parked in the vicinity of the Registrar's Office.
MR. SCIAMBRA: The State will mark this photograph "S-2" for purposes of identification. (Whereupon, the photograph referred to by Counsel was duly marked for identification as "State Exhibit No. 2.")
Q: (Exhibiting photograph to witness) I ask you if you recognize the automobile in that picture.
A: Yes, sir. That is either the automobile or one just exactly like it.
Q: Approximately how far from the Registrar's Office was this automobile parked?
A: You want that in feet?
Q: Well, just an estimate.
A: I would say approximately 50 feet from the entrance to the Registrar's Office.
Q: Can you remember how this car was called to your attention?
A: Yes, sir, Mr. Palmer --
MR. DYMOND: Now I object to anything another person stated, Your Honor.
MR. SCIAMBRA: I didn't even ask --
MR. ALCOCK: He didn't ask the question. How can you object?
MR. DYMOND: He was about to testify.
MR. ALCOCK: You can anticipate.
THE COURT: When you make your objections, make them to me and let me rule.
MR. DYMOND: I made the objection after the witness commenced testifying. If I don't make it then, I might as well not make it.
THE COURT: I sustain your objection. I might suggest, Mr. Sciambra, if you change the form of the question to the effect, did he have a conversation with someone, he could say yes, but not what that person said.
Q: Did you have a conversation with anyone in regard to this automobile?
A: Yes, sir, I did.
THE COURT: That is as far as you can go.
Q: As a result of this conversation, did you do anything?
A: Yes, sir, I checked this automobile out.
Q: What do you mean you "checked it out"?
A: I walked over and talked to the man that was behind the wheel of this car.
Q: How many people did you see in the car?
A: There was two men in it.
Q: Were they in the front or the back seat?
A: Both in the front seat.
Q: Can you describe the individual on the passenger side?
A: No, sir, I can't. Mister, I didn't talk to him.
Q: Which one did you talk to?
A: I talked to the driver.
Q: The driver of the automobile?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Can you describe the man behind the wheel of the automobile that you talked to?
A: Yes, sir. He was a big man, gray-haired, ruddy complexion, a real easy-talking man.
Q: Do you see the man in the courtroom today that you talked to?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Would you point him out to us.
(The witness complied.)
THE COURT: I didn't see you. Well, answer by voice, because there is nothing going in the record.
Q: (Indicating) Is this the individual that you pointed to?
A: Yes, sir.
MR. SCIAMBRA: Will the record please reflect the witness pointed to the Defendant before the bar, Clay Shaw.
Q: Would you tell the Court what you said to the Defendant and what the Defendant said to you at that time.
A: I can't remember exactly the words that I used to get this man's identification. I approached him like I do anyone that I am -- I want to find out the identity of them and I ask them where they are from or what their name is.
Q: When you asked this individual where he was from, did he say anything?
A: He said he was a representative of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans.
Q: Did you ever talk to anyone from the International Trade Mart before this day?
A: No, sir, I hadn't.
Q: Was that all the conversation you had with this gentleman?
A: That was enough to satisfy me that he wasn't concerned with this.
MR. DYMOND: I object to what satisfied the witness, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Well, I think in his role as the Town Marshal, the purpose of him questioning, however he questioned, I think he can state as the Town Marshal that he was satisfied with the answer.
MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, I submit he can say he felt he had asked enough questions, but to give his opinion or his impression as to the result of these questions is not within the scope of this witness's purpose on the stand.
MR. ALCOCK: Your Honor, the testimony of the witness was to the effect that he approached this car to ask his identity or his reason for being in town because of the situation that prevailed at the time. The answer in response is perfectly logical.
THE COURT: I will permit the answer, I think it is relevant to the Jury because of his peculiar position as Town Marshal. I may sustain, but as Town Marshal I think he can give the reason he stopped him for examination. I will permit it.
MR. DYMOND: To which ruling we reserve a bill of exception, making the question, the answer, the objection, the Court's ruling thereon, and the entire record part of the bill.
Q: Do you remember the question?
THE COURT: Repeat the question, or would you like to have it read? Read it back.
(Whereupon, the pending question was read back by the Reporter.)
THE COURT: And that is when you were interrupted. Would you like to continue your answer, Mr. Manchester?
MR. DYMOND: I would like to make the answer part of the bill of exception, I want to make the answer part of the bill, too.
THE COURT: Very well. Can you pick up where you left off?
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
A: (Continuing) On checking anybody from out of town at this particular time, I wouldn't spend any more time with any one individual than I had to to get an identification from him.
Q: In other words, you were satisfied with the identification he gave you? Is that correct?
A: That is right.
Q: Now, after your conversation with him, did you have a conversation with anyone else in regard to the black Cadillac?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Who was that conversation with?
A: Mr. Palmer, Henry Earl Palmer.
Q: What is his name?
A: Henry E. Palmer, Registrar of Voters.
Q: And what did you tell Mr. Palmer in relationship to the Cadillac and the individual in the Cadillac?
A: I told Mr. Palmer that he didn't have anything to worry about the people in this Cadillac, that they was from International Trade Mart and they wasn't -- as far as I knew, it wasn't anything to do with this voter registration business.
Q: Now, Mr. Manchester, did you see the Defendant Shaw's picture in the paper after he was arrested by this office?
A: Yes, sir, I did.
Q: Did you recognize him then?
A: No, sir, I didn't pay that much (attention).
Q: When did you recognize him?
A: After he was -- after Mr. Shaw was charged, then I got to -- I got to putting the pieces together that I had seen this man before somewhere.
Q: Did you tell anyone about this?
A: Yes, sir, I talked to Mr. Palmer, I believe, about it.
Q: Anyone else besides Mr. Palmer?
A: Yes, sir, Lieutenant Francis Fruge, State Police.
Q: Do you remember when this was?
A: No, sir. It was some time after, a good while after he was arrested. I don't remember exactly how long it was.
MR. SCIAMBRA: I tender the witness.

Q: Mr. Manchester, you say that when you were interviewing strange people up there in connection with this voter registration drive, you were not spending any more time than was necessary with them, is that right?
A: That is right, yes, sir.
Q: Could you tell us about how long you spent interviewing the two men in this Cadillac?
A: I didn't say I interviewed two men in the Cadillac, I said I interviewed one man in the Cadillac.
Q: You just talked to the driver? Right?
A: Yes.
Q: For about how long would you say?
A: I would venture to say maybe two minutes.
Q: Two minutes at the outside? Would that be right?
A: Repeat that, sir?
Q: Would you say two minutes at the outside would be correct, in other words, no more than two minutes? Right?
A: I would say no more than two minutes.
Q: Now, the person whom you have said was the driver of that Cadillac, had you ever seen that person before?
A: No, sir, not to my recollection; I had not.
Q: Now, you, of course, say that this Defendant here was the man that you saw in the Cadillac. Right?
A: Yes, sir, I have.
Q: Before coming today, to court today, and exclusive of this incident in Clinton, have you ever seen Mr. Clay Shaw before?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: When?
A: Now let me get -- would you repeat that?
Q: I will make it a little clearer. Not counting the incident that you are talking about in Clinton, had you ever seen Mr. Clay Shaw before you came to court today?
A: Today? Yes, sir.
Q: Yes?
A: Yes, sir, I have.
Q: Where?
A: In this courtroom.
Q: When?
A: Two weeks ago I believe I was down here.
Q: I see. Two weeks ago was the first time, other than this Clinton episode that you have told us about? Is that correct?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And in what year do you say that this Clinton episode occurred?
A: 1963.
MR. DYMOND: Mr. Alcock, I show you this photograph which I ask be marked "Exhibit D-1" (exhibiting photograph to Counsel).
(Whereupon, the photograph referred to by Counsel was duly marked for identification as "Exhibit D-1.")
Q: (Exhibiting photograph to witness) Mr. Manchester, I am going to show you a photograph which we have marked for identification on the reverse side "D-1," and ask you to examine that photograph and tell me whether that resembles the person whom you saw in the black Cadillac in Clinton in 1963.
A: No, sir, that doesn't resemble.
Q: It doesn't resemble him at all? Is that correct?
A: No, sir, not to me it doesn't.
MR. DYMOND: Please mark this photograph (exhibiting document to Counsel) as "D-2."
(Whereupon, the photograph referred to by Counsel was duly marked for identification as "Exhibit D-2.")
Q: (Exhibiting photograph to witness) Mr. Manchester, I show you another photograph which I have identified by the marking "D-2," and I ask you whether that photograph resembles the man whom you saw in Clinton.
A: Now what are you referring to, resemblance?
Q: Well, whether there is any facial resemblances which you would term noticeable.
A: The only thing that resembles the man that I saw in the Cadillac may be the gray hair at the temples, that is all.
Q: So then it is your testimony, Mr. Manchester, that you saw a man not more than two minutes five years ago, or let us say more than five years ago, and then you saw him in court, and you can positively identify him as the person whom you saw five years ago? Is that correct?
A: Mr. Dymond, I don't forget faces; I might forget names but I don't forget faces.
Q: You say you have an unusual memory for faces?
A: In my line of work I have got to have an unusual (memory) for faces.
Q: Now, you are a law enforcement officer, aren't you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: I understand you are Town Marshal of Clinton?
A: That is right.
Q: Is that an elective office or an appointive office?
A: No, sir, that is appointive by the Town Council.
Q: Now, you were aware that the preliminary hearing was conducted in this case, were you not, sir?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: -- back in April of 1967?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: When did you first report this testimony of yours to the District Attorney's Office here in New Orleans?
A: I don't remember when I did first talk to the District Attorney's Office.
Q: About how long ago?
A: It has been two years or a year and a half ago I would say.
Q: It was after the preliminary hearing, wasn't it?
A: It was after Mr. Shaw was indicted. I don't know, I don't remember when the preliminary hearing was.
Q: Mr. Manchester, if you had reported this to the District Attorney's Office before the preliminary hearing, would you not have considered it peculiar that you were not subpoenaed as a witness for the preliminary hearing?
MR. ALCOCK: Object to his calling for an opinion.
THE COURT: Sustained. His opinion makes no difference.
Q: Is it your testimony now that you cannot tell us whether you told this to the District Attorney before or after the preliminary hearing?
A: That is right, Mr. Dymond, because I don't know when the preliminary hearing was held.
Q: And you can't relate these two incidents in your mind so as to be able to tell us which one came first?
A: That is right, I can't.
Q: Were you aware of the fact that several residents of Clinton said that they had seen Lee Harvey Oswald in Clinton and in Jackson, Louisiana, back in 1963?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: When did you first find out about that?
A: Soon after the Kennedy assassination.
Q: Soon after the Kennedy assassination? Is that right?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Were you aware of the fact that the Warren Commission was conducting extensive investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy?
A: I knew they was conducting an investigation.
Q: Did you have occasion to report to the Warren Commission that any testimony was available in your area which might be connected with the assassination?
A: No, sir. I figured if they wanted it they could come and get it.
Q: As a law enforcement officer you didn't feel it your duty to make it available to them?
A: I felt it was my duty if they came and asked for it.
Q: It was your duty if they came and asked for it?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Would you tell us how they were supposed to know about it if you didn't tell them?
MR. ALCOCK: Objection, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Don't argue with the witness.
MR. DYMOND: I am not arguing with him, I asked him a question, Judge.
MR. ALCOCK: He is asking him to determine what was in the mind of the people who in- formed the Warren Commission. That is impossible.
MR. DYMOND: I want to know what is in this witness's mind, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Ask him the question.
MR. DYMOND: Please read it back.
(Whereupon, the pending question was read back by the Reporter.)
THE COURT: I don't see how he can answer the question. He doesn't know whether somebody else could have told them about the Town Marshal, so I don't think the question could be answered.
MR. DYMOND: He could know it if he knew it happened, Judge.
THE COURT: How could he know, Mr. Dymond, if someone else called the FBI, called them and told them what the Town Marshal knew, and you don't know if he called. You are asking a hard question.
MR. DYMOND: He could be there when the call was made. That is very simple.
THE COURT: In other words, Mr. Manchester, you did not volunteer the information, but if they had come to see you, you would have given them the answer? Is that you answer?
THE WITNESS: That is my answer.
Q: Your answer also is that a law enforcement officer you felt no duty to report any- thing to them? Is that right?
A: I answered your questions, Mr. Dymond.
THE COURT: I think you have, too. Would you go to another subject, Mr. Dymond.
Q: Now, could you tell me why you were investigating the various cars in Clinton at this time?
A: Yes, sir, I was trying to keep out any outside agitation, keep it out of this voter registration drive being conducted.
Q: Now, this voter registration drive was actually a drive for the purpose of getting Negroes registered to vote, was it not?
A: That is right, that is what it was for.
Q: Is it not a fact that you were doing everything within your power to keep them from getting registered?
A: No, sir.
MR. ALCOCK: What is this, Your Honor, racial prejudice in this case?
THE COURT: Objection sustained. That is completely irrelevant to the testimony of this witness and has nothing to do with this case. I sustain the objection.
Q: Is it not a fact that you suspected the occupants of that car of being there to cooperate with Negroes in trying to get registered to vote?
A: No, sir, it was not.
Q: It was not?
A: It was not.
Q: Mr. Manchester, you say that the photograph that was showed to you -- I think it was marked for identification "State-1" -- was either a picture of the same car or one similar to it? Is that right?
A: I think I said that it was the car or one very similar to it.
THE COURT: I think that exhibit was "S-2", not "S-1".
MR. DYMOND: "S-2".
That is all.
THE COURT: Do you have further need of this witness?
MR. SCIAMBRA: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: You are relieved of the subpoena. You may leave.
Call your next witness.
(Witness excused.)