Garrison's Warped Case Against Clay Shaw

Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?

by Dave Reitzes

Part 1 of 4

In March of 1967, Clay Lavergne Shaw of New Orleans, Louisiana was indicted for conspiring to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. It took exactly two years for his case to navigate its way through an arduous marathon of motions, continuances, and appeals. It took a jury less than an hour to acquit.

There are many assassination researchers who believe that any debate, any press conference, and any public presentation of conspiracy theory or evidence -- no matter how groundless, speculative, or opportunistic -- is worthwhile, if only to keep "the cause" alive -- even the prosecution of an innocent man. Thus, the very same people who condemn the Dallas police and the federal government for stripping Lee Oswald of his civil rights decide that the civil rights of others are expendable when a higher purpose is served. Perhaps a group of people once even believed the same thing about John F. Kennedy.

Did Clay Shaw conspire to assassinate President John F. Kennedy? The case against him -- both then and now -- will be examined here in its entirety.

Meet "Clay Bertrand"

It all began with "Clay Bertrand," a name which appeared in the Warren Commission testimony of attorney Dean Adams Andrews, Jr. Andrews was questioned by attorney Wesley J. Liebeler.

Mr. LIEBELER. I am advised by the FBI that you told them that Lee Harvey Oswald came into your office some time during the summer of 1963. Would you tell us in your own words just what happened as far as that is concerned?

Mr. ANDREWS. I don't recall the dates, but briefly, it is this: Oswald came in the office accompanied by some gay kids. They were Mexicanos. He wanted to find out what could be done in connection with a discharge, a yellow paper discharge, so I explained to him he would have to advance the funds to transcribe whatever records they had up in the Adjutant General's office. When he brought the money, I would do the work, and we saw him three or four times subsequent to that, not in the company of the gay kids. He had this Mexicano with him. . . . [T]he second time he came back, we talked about the yellow paper discharge. . . . When he asked the questions -- I don't know which visit it was -- about citizenship of his wife, I asked the birthplace or origin cited for citizenship purposes -- that's what counts -- and he said Russia, so I just assumed [she was] a GI bride, and wanted to go through the routine of naturalization, which is three years after lawful admission into the United States if you are married, and five years if you are not, maintain the status here in the States cumulatively for five years.

Mr. LIEBELER. Did he indicate that he wanted to institute citizenship proceedings for his wife?

Mr. ANDREWS. Yes; I told him to go to Immigration and get the forms. Cost him $10. All he had to do was execute them. He didn't need a lawyer. That was the end of that.

Mr. LIEBELER. How many times did he come into your office?

Mr. ANDREWS. Minimum of three, maximum of five, counting initial visit.

Mr. LIEBELER. And did you talk about different subjects at different times? As I understand it, the first time he came there, he was primarily concerned about his discharge, is that correct'?

Mr. ANDREWS. Well, I may have the subject matter of the visits reversed because with the company he kept and the conversation -- he could talk fairly well -- I figured that this was another one of what we call in my office free alley clients, so we didn't maintain the normalcy with the file that -- might have scratched a few notes on a piece of pad, and 2 days later threw the whole thing away. Didn't pay too much attention to him. Only time I really paid attention to this boy, he was in the front of the Maison Blanche Building giving out these kooky Castro things. . . . I was coming from the NBC building, and I walked past him. You know how you see somebody, recognize him. So I turned around, came back, and asked him what he was doing giving that junk out. He said it was a job. I reminded him of the $25 he owed the office. He said he would come over there, but he never did.

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . Can you tell us what month that was, approximately?

Mr. ANDREWS. Summertime. Before July. I think the last time would be around -- the last could have been, I guess, around the 10th of July.

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . My understanding is, of course, that you are here under subpoena and subpoena duces tecum, asking you to bring with you any records that you might have in your office indicating or reflecting Oswald's visit, and my understanding is that you indicated that you were unable to find any such records.

Mr. ANDREWS. Right. My office was rifled shortly after I got out of the hospital, and I talked with the FBI people. We couldn't find anything prior to it. Whoever was kind enough to mess my office up, going through it, we haven't found anything since.

Mr. LIEBELER. You have caused a thorough search to be made of your office for these records?


Mr. LIEBELER. You haven't been able to come up with anything?


Mr. LIEBELER. Did there come a time after the assassination when you had some further involvement with Oswald, or at least an apparent involvement with Oswald; as I understand it?

Mr. ANDREWS. No; nothing at all with Oswald. I was in Hotel Dieu [Hospital], and the phone rang and a voice I recognized as Clay Bertrand asked me if I would go to Dallas and Houston -- I think -- Dallas, I guess, wherever it was that this boy was being held -- and defend him. I told him I was sick in the hospital. If I couldn't go, I would find somebody that could go.

Mr. LIEBELER. You told him you were sick in the hospital and what?

Mr. ANDREWS. That's where I was when the call came through. It came through the hospital switchboard. I said that I wasn't in shape enough to go to Dallas and defend him and I would see what I could do.

Mr. LIEBELER. Now what can you tell us about this Clay Bertrand? You met him prior to that time?

Mr. ANDREWS. I had seen Clay Bertrand once some time ago, probably a couple of years. He's the one who calls in behalf of gay kids normally, either to obtain bond or parole for them. I would assume that he was the one that originally sent Oswald and the gay kids, these Mexicanos, to the office because I had never seen those people before at all. They were just walk-ins.

Mr. LIEBELER. You say that you think you saw Clay Bertrand some time about 2 years prior to the time you received this telephone call that you have just told us about?

Mr. ANDREWS. Yes; he is mostly a voice on the phone.

Mr. LIEBELER. What day did you receive the telephone call from Clay Bertrand asking you to defend Oswald?

Mr. ANDREWS. I don't remember. It was a Friday or a Saturday.

Mr. LIEBELER. Immediately following the assassination?

Mr. ANDREWS. I don't know about that. I didn't know. Yes; I did. I guess I did because I was -- they told me I was squirrelly in the hospital.

Mr. LIEBELER. You had pneumonia; is that right?


Mr. LIEBELER. And as I understand it, you were under heavy sedation at that time in connection with your treatment for pneumonia?

Mr. ANDREWS. Yes; this is what happened: After I got the call, I called my secretary at her home and asked her if she had remembered Lee Harvey Oswald's file. Of course, she didn't remember, and I had to tell her about all the kooky kids. She thought we had a file in the office. . . .

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . Do you have a picture in your mind of this Clay Bertrand?

Mr. ANDREWS. . . . Oh, I ran up on that rat about 6 weeks ago and he spooked, ran in the street. I would have beat him with a chain if I had caught him.

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . Let me ask you this: When I was down here in April, before I talked to you about this thing, and I was going to take your deposition at that time, but we didn't make arrangements, in your continuing discussions with the FBI, you finally came to the conclusion that Clay Bertrand was a figment of your imagination?

Mr. ANDREWS. . . . That's what the Feebees put on. I know that the two Feebees are going to put these people on the street looking, and I can't find the guy, and I am not going to tie up all the agents on something that isn't that solid. I told them, "Write what you want, that I am nuts. I don't care." They were running on the time factor, and the hills were shook up plenty to get it, get it, get it. I couldn't give it to them. I have been playing cops and robbers with them. You can tell when the steam is on. They are on you like the plague. They never leave. They are like cancer. Eternal. . . . It was my decision if they were to stay there. If I decide yes, they stay. If I decide no, they go. So I told them, "Close your file and go some place else." That's the real reason why it was done. I don't know what they wrote in the report, but that's the real reason.

Mr. LIEBELER. Now subsequent to that time, however, you actually ran into Clay Bertrand in the street?

Mr. ANDREWS. About 6 weeks ago. I am trying to think of the name of this bar. That's where this rascal bums out. I was trying to get past him so I could get a nickel in the phone and call the Feebees or [Secret Service Agent] John Rice, but he saw me and spooked and ran. I haven't seen him since.

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . What does this guy look like?

Mr. ANDREWS. He is about 5 feet 8 inches. Got sandy hair, blue eyes, ruddy complexion. Must weigh about 165, 170, 175. He really took off, that rascal.

Mr. LIEBELER. He recognized you?

Mr. ANDREWS. He had to because if he would have let me get to that phone and make the call, he would be in custody.

Mr. LIEBELER. You wanted to get hold of this guy and make him available to the FBI for interview, or Mr. Rice of the Secret Service?

Mr. ANDREWS. What I wanted to do and should have done is crack him in the head with a bottle, but I figured I would be a good, law-abiding citizen and call them and let them grab him, but I made the biggest mistake of the century. I should have grabbed him right there. I probably will never find him again. He has been bugging me ever since this happened.

Mr. LIEBELER. Now before you ran into Clay Bertrand in the street on this day, did you have a notion in your mind what he looked like?

Mr. ANDREWS. I had seen him before one time to recognize him.

Mr. LIEBELER. When you saw him that day, he appeared to you as he had before when you recognized him?

Mr. ANDREWS. He hasn't changed any appearance, I don't think. Maybe a little fatter, maybe a little skinnier.

Mr. LIEBELER. Now I have a rather lengthy report of an interview that Mr. Kennedy had with you on December 5, 1963, in which he reports you as stating that you had a mental picture of Clay Bertrand as being approximately 6 feet 1 inch to 6 feet 2 inches in height, brown hair, and well dressed.


Mr. LIEBELER. Now this description is different, at least in terms of height of the man, than the one you have just given us of Clay Bertrand.

Mr. ANDREWS. But, you know, I don't play Boy Scouts and measure them. I have only seen this fellow twice in my life. I don't think there is that much in the description. There may be some to some artist, but to me, there isn't that much difference. Might be for you all.

Mr. LIEBELER. I think you said he was 5 feet 8 inches before.

Mr. ANDREWS. Well, I can't give you any better because this time I was looking for the fellow, he was sitting down. I am just estimating. You meet a guy 2 years ago, you meet him, period.

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . I am at a loss to understand why you told Agent Kennedy on December 5 that he was 6 feet 1 to 6 feet 2 and now you have told us that he was 5 feet 8 when at no time did you see the man standing up.

Mr. ANDREWS. Because, I guess, the first time -- and I am guessing now --

Mr. LIEBELER. Is this fellow a homosexual, do you say?

Mr. ANDREWS. Bisexual. What they call a swinging cat.

Mr. LIEBELER. And you haven't seen him at any time since that day?

Mr. ANDREWS. I haven't seen him since.

Mr. LIEBELER. . . . Has this fellow Bertrand sent you business in the past?

Mr. ANDREWS. Prior to -- I guess the last time would be February of 1963.

Mr. LIEBELER. And mostly he refers, I think you said, these gay kids, is that right?

Mr. ANDREWS. Right. . . . I wish I could be more specific, that's all. This is my impression, for whatever it is worth, of Clay Bertrand: His connections with Oswald I don't know at all. I think he is a lawyer without a brief case. That's my opinion. He sends the kids different places. Whether this boy is associated with Lee Oswald or not, I don't know, but I would say, when I met him about 6 weeks ago when I ran up on him and he ran away from me, he could be running because he owes me money, or he could be running because they have been squeezing the quarter pretty good looking for him while I was in the hospital, and somebody might have passed the word he was hot and I was looking for him, but I have never been able to figure out the reason why he would call me, and the only other part of this thing that I understand, but apparently I haven't been able to communicate, is I called Monk Zelden on a Sunday at the N.O.A.C. and asked Monk if he would go over -- be interested in a retainer and go over to Dallas and see about that boy. . . . [W]hile I was talking with Monk, he said, "Don't worry about it. Your client just got shot." That was the end of the case. . . . [T]hat's the whole thing, but this boy Bertrand has been bugging me ever since. I will find him sooner or later.

Mr. LIEBELER. Does Bertrand owe you money?

Mr. ANDREWS. Yes; I ain't looking for him for that, I want to find out why he called me on behalf of this boy after the President was assassinated.

Mr. LIEBELER. How come Bertrand owes you money?

Mr. ANDREWS. I have done him some legal work that he has failed to pay the office for.

Mr. LIEBELER. When was that?

Mr. ANDREWS. That's in a period of years that I have -- like you are Bertrand. You call up and ask me to go down and get Mr. X out. If Mr. X doesn't pay on those kinds of calls, Bertrand has a guarantee for the payment of appearance. One or two of these kids had skipped. I had to go pay the penalty, which was a lot of trouble.

Mr. LIEBELER. You were going to hold Bertrand for that?


Mr. LIEBELER. . . . Did you just indicate that you would like to find Mr. Bertrand and he did run off? Did you see him run off?

Mr. ANDREWS. Yes; I chased him, but I couldn't go.

Mr. LIEBELER. This was when you saw him 6 weeks ago?

Mr. ANDREWS. Yes . . .

Mr. LIEBELER. He took off as soon as he saw you?

Mr. ANDREWS. No; but I was moving to go to the phone. He thought I was moving towards him.

Next: The search for "Clay Bertrand"

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