Jerry P. Shinley Archive:
Jim Garrison and the SCEF Raids



Subject: Jim Garrison and the SCEF Raids
Date: Wed, Dec 2, 1998 16:23 EST
Message-id: <744b5c$c9n$>

       Here are some excerpts from the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Dombrowski v. Pfister, obtained from the follwing URL:
Title: 52,380 US 479 (04-26-65)

       <> This opinion was acquired from the Flite Database and enhanced for distribution on the Internet by The Villanova Center for Information and Policy.
380 U.S. 479 NO. 52.

       Appellants, a civil rights organization and its executive director, brought suit in federal district court, in which other individuals later joined, for injunctive and declaratory relief to restrain appellees from prosecuting or threatening to prosecute them under Louisiana's Subversive Activities and Communist Control Law and Communist Propaganda Control Law, which they alleged violated their rights of free expression under the first and fourteenth amendments. Appellants contended that the statutes were excessively broad and susceptible of application in violation of those rights, and were being used by appellees in bad faith, not to secure valid convictions, but to deter appellants' civil rights efforts. Appellants alleged and offered to prove the arrest of the individual appellants under the statutes, the raiding of their offices and illegal seizure of their records, with continued threats of prosecution after invalidation by a state court of the arrests and seizure of evidence preceding this action. A three judge district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, also holding that abstention was appropriate pending a possible narrowing construction by the state courts which would avoid unnecessary constitutional adjudication. Thereafter, appellants alleged, the individual appellants were indicted under the subversive activities and communist control law. They also claimed that there was no prospect of final state adjudications either under those indictments or under threatened additional prosecutions.


       MR. Justice Brennan delivered the opinion of the court.

       Appellants filed a complaint in the district court for the Eastern district of Louisiana, invoking the civil rights act, rev. stat. sec. 1979, 42 u.s.c. sec. 1983 (1958 ed.), and seeking declaratory relief and an injunction restraining appellees - the governor, police and law enforcement officers, and the chairman of the Legislative Joint Committee on Un-American Activities in Louisiana - from prosecuting or threatening to prosecute appellants for alleged violations of the Louisiana Subversive Activities and Communist Control law and the Communist Propaganda Control law. Appellant Southern Conference Educational Fund, inc. ( SCEF ), is active in fostering civil rights for Negroes in Louisiana and other states of the South. Appellant [James] Dombrowski is its executive director; intervenor [Benjamin] Smith, its treasurer; and intervenor [Bruce] Waltzer, Smith's law partner and an attorney for SCEF . The complaint alleges that the statutes on their face violate the First and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees securing freedom of expression, because overbreadth makes them susceptible of sweeping and improper application abridging those rights. Supported by affidavits and a written offer of proof, the complaint further alleges that the threats to enforce the statutes against appellants are not made with any expectation of securing valid convictions, but rather are part of a plan to employ arrests, seizures, and threats of prosecution under color of the statutes to harass appellants and discourage them and their supporters from asserting and attempting to vindicate the constitutional rights of Negro citizens of Louisiana.


       Appellants' allegations and offers of proof outline the chilling effect on free expression of prosecutions initiated and threatened in this case. Early in October 1963 appellant Dombrowski and intervenors Smith and Waltzer were arrested by Louisiana state and local police and charged with violations of the two statutes. Their offices were raided and their files and records seized. Later in October a state judge quashed the arrest warrants as not based on probable cause, and discharged the appellants. Subsequently, the court granted a motion to suppress the seized evidence on the ground that the raid was illegal. Louisiana officials continued, however, to threaten prosecution of the appellants, who thereupon filed this action in November. Shortly after the three-judge court was convened, a grand jury was summoned in the Parish of Orleans to hear evidence looking to indictments of the individual appellants. On appellants' application Judge Wisdom issued a temporary restraining order against prosecutions pending hearing and decision of the case in the district court. Following a hearing the district court, over Judge Wisdom's dissent, dissolved the temporary restraining order and, at the same time, handed down an order dismissing the complaint. Thereafter the grand jury returned indictments under the subversive activities and communist control law against the individual appellants.

       These events, together with repeated announcements by appellees that the appellant organization is a subversive or communist-front organization, whose members must register or be prosecuted under the Louisiana statutes, have, appellants allege, frightened off potential members and contributors...


       The brief filed in this court by appellee Garrison , District Attorney of the Parish of Orleans, the official having immediate responsibility for the indictments, concedes the facts concerning the arrests of the individual appellants, their discharge by the local judge, and the indictments of the individual appellants by the grand jury. In view of our decision on the merits, the district court on remand need decide only the relief to which appellants may be entitled on the basis of their attacks on other on their allegations that appellees threaten to enforce both statutes solely to discourage appellants from continuing their civil rights activities. On these issues, abstention will be as inappropriate as on the issues we here decide.
[end of excerpts]
Besides Jim Garrison , some other people involved in the SCEF raid are Major Presly Trosclair and his NOPD Intelligence Squad; Major Russell Willie of the Louisiana State Police, who is mentioned in Volume X of the HSCA report because he purchased some of Guy Banister's files; and Senator James Eastland, who subpenaed the records seized in the raid, removing them from the jurisdiction of the Louisiana courts.
(There is also a Dombrowski v. Eastland decision see the following URL:
Garrison 's participation in this raid raises many questions. One of them is why was that commie Lee Harvey Oswald immune to prosecution under Louisiana's Ant-Subversion laws. My suspicion is that the Louisiana authorities knew that the laws where legally questionable and wanted to save them for the SCEF raid.
Citations from the New Orleans Times-Picauyne
Oct 3, 1963 S1-P23
Workshop Set for Lawyers
Civil Rights, Negligence Law to be Topics
[The SCEF defendants were attending this when the raid occurred. See _Rights on Trial_ by Arthur Kinoy]
Oct 5, 1963 S1-P1
Raids Under Red Control Act Bring Three Arrests
Dombrowski of SCEF Included; Records Seized
Mention of Major Russel Willie, La. State Police, who led raid.
"Maj. Trosclair [Head NOPD Intelligence] said the allegations will be presented to Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison."
3 defendants paroled by Judge Cocke.
Oct 6, 1963 S1-P1
FBI Not Tabbed on Raid--Rogers
Trusts Hoover But Not Justice Department
Baton Rouge(AP)
Oct 6, 1963 S1-P7
Charge 'Pack of Lies'--Smith
Oct 6, 1963 S1-P7
Raid Denounced by SCEF Leader
Just Part of Fight on Freedom, He Says
Oct 7, 1963 S1-P22
Raids on SCEF Rapped by [Martin Luther] King
Called 'Smear Tactics' by Leader
Oct 8, 1963 S1-P7
Rogers Denies Curb Attempt
Only Investigating Subersion, He Says
Oct 9, 1963 S1-P2
Hearings Before Long Says Committee Leader
Material Seized in Raid to be Evaluated
Oct 13, 1963 S1-P20
Unitarian Board Scores Arrests
Oct 13, 1963 S2-P4
Letters to Editor
Condemns Raid
Mrs. Paul A. Blanchard
[Is this the woman who Ruth Paine wrote to about Marina?]
Oct 15, 1963 S1-P13
Data Studied in SCEF Raid
DA Office Receives Confiscated Documents
Frank Klein
Oct 17, 1963 S3-p2
RFK Assistance in Cases Asked
Civil Liberties Unit Wants Help for Lawyers
Oct 18, 1963 S1-P21
Hearing Set Oct 25 for Attorneys
Motion Filed Over Arrests in SCEF Raids
Oct 22, 1963 S1-P6
Hearing For Dombrowski Set for Friday Morning
Hearings Same Time for Smith, Waltzer
Oct 23, 1963 S2-p22
Judge Demands SCEF Material
Seized Records Must be Brought to Court
Oct 26, 1963 S1-P1 [Key Article]
Three in SCEF Case Released
Judge Cocke Rules Evidence Insufficient
Russell Willie refused to name an informant who provided info about SCEF members activities [My guess, probably a wire tap]
Oct 29, 1963 S1-P4
3 Ask $750,000 in Damages
Suit Filed by Waltzer, Dombrowski, Smith
Nov 1, 1963 S1-P16
SCEF Records' Return Sought
$250,000 Damages Also Asked in Court Suit
Nov 2, 1963 S1-P15
SCEF Records Case Appealed
Issue Goes to U.S. Fith Circuit Court
Nov 11, 1963 S1-P5
Censure Asked Against Solon
SCEF Attacks Eastland for Records Action
Nov 12, 1963 S1-P15 [Key Article]
SCEF Strikes at State Law
Suit Attacks Validity of Subversives Act
Russell Willie and Garrison Named as Defendants
Nov 14, 1963 S1-p2
SCEF Raid Items Given DA
Nov 15, 1963 S1-P1
Grand Jury Told to Probe Possible Subversive Acts
Frank Klein, D'Alton Williams
Nov 16, 1963 S1-P9
Records Probe Bar Denied
Judge Refuses to Grant SCEF Injunction
Nov 19, 1963 S1-P1 [Key Article]
Action Against SCEF Banned
U. S. Judge Issues Restraining Order
John Minor Wisdom [Eisenhower appointee]
Nov 28, 1963 S1-P4
Danger of Red Fronts Cited
Dec 5, 1963 S1-P4
City Dismissed as Defendant
Dec 10, 1963 S1-P18 [Key Article]
U.S. Panel Studies SCEF Suit
Plantiffs Hold Red Laws Unconstitutional
Willaim A, Porteous III, JG ADA
Dec 19, 1963 S1-P26
Ruling Favors Sen. Eastland
Judge Decides in SCEF Records Issue
Jan 11, 1964 S1-P3 [Key Article]
State Anti-Red Acts Sustained
U.S. Court Upholds Laws in 2-1 Decision
Jan 23, 1964 S2-P15 [Key Article]
Two Attorneys Heard by Jury
Testify Voluntarily in Red Control Probe
Jack N. Rogers testifies. Frank Klein.
Jan 30, 1964 S1-P1 [Very Key Article]
Jury Indicts 3 Nabbed in Raid
Accused of Violating Subversive Activities Act
Klein, Williams

Jerry Shinley

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      Further citations . . .

New Orleans Times-Picayune January 31, 1964 S1-P7
Two Attorneys' Blast Charges
Act Unconstitutional, Say Smith, Waltzer

[Benjamin Smith's statement on Jim Garrison's indictments:]

       These are simply indictments, or accusations, of course - not convictions. But they are particularly sinister accusations since they constitute a deliberate attempt to destroy the reutations of two civil rights attorneys and civil rights organizations. [SCEF and the National Lawyer's Guild]

       Neither my partner nor I nor SCEF is, or has ever been subversive, and I cannot believe that our community will swallow so phony an effort to link integration with communism.

       The statute under which we have been indicted is obviously unconstitutional. We are preparing to attack it -- in fact, it is already being appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

       When it is finally found unconstitutional, the state's entire case will collapse. And the state knows it - thus these hasty and premature indictments. I am ashamed for our entire state that such things can happen here.

[Bruce Waltzer's statement:]

       I think that this indictment is going to shock the entire legal community of our country.

       But perhaps it is good that Louisiana's irresponsible and unconstitutional so-called "subversion law" will now have to endure the scrutiny of our nation and its courts.

       I am confident that this assault on a perfectly respectable bar association [National Lawyer's Guild] will be struck down by the courts.

New Orleans Times-Picayune Feb 4, 1964 S1-P3
Copying of SCEF Record is Hit
Keating Protests Senate Unit's Probe

Feb 5, 1964 S1-P1
Federal Court Alters Finding
Tells State Court to Rule on Subversive Acts

West, Ellis, Wisdom
vacated action of Jan 10

Feb 11, 1964 S1-P2
SCEF Official Pleads Innocent

Ben Smith, Robert Zibilich
Judge Bernard Cocke
20 days for pleadings

Feb 21, 1964 S2-P12
SCEF Decision is Denial of Due Process -- Wisdom Dissents to Findings of Three Judge Court

March 24, 1964 S2-P4
SCEF Case Search Orders Hit
Dombrowski Defense Attacks Warrants

Judge George Platt
further arguments in two weeks
Maj. Russell R. Willie, 1st witness
Frank Klein qualified Jack Rogers as an expert witness

April 28, 1964 S1-P11
SCEF is Linked to Cuba -- Panel
Louisiana Un-American Group Claims Tie

June 16, 1964 S3-P20

La. Red Control Law Under Fire
Supreme Court Agrees to Rule on Statutes

SCEF, stmt from Fred Shuttlesworth

June 17, 1964 S2-P2
Court Rejects SCEF Evidence
Papers Taken in Raid Ruled Inadmissible

Judge Platt
search warrant illegal because arrest warrant illegal

Oct 3, 1964 S2-P20
Two Attorneys Seek Damages
Claim Illegal Arrests in SCEF Raids

Fed. District Court
$250K each
Col. Alexander, Jack Rogers, Russell Willie, James Pfister
Willie & Rogers accused of making false stmts to obtain warrants

Oct 18, 1964 S1-P18
Dinner Slated Here Thursday
Legal and Ministerial Group to be Feted

Oct 22
Fred Shuttlesworth, SCEF
George Crockett, v-p Nat'l Lawyers Guild
Arthur Kinoy, William Kunstler
Ben Smith, Bruce Waltzer
Robert Moses, SNCC

Oct 24, 1964 S2-P13
Rights Leader Bars Violence
SCEF Head Sees Way to Overcome Obstacles

Shuttlesworth, Bob Moses, Ben Smith

Oct 27, 1964 S1-P11
Suit Allowed in SCEF Case
friend of court brief by Nat'l Lawyers Guild

Jan 26, 1965 S1-P5 Subversive Activities Law Argued before Tribunal
Lawyers Say La. Statute Uncontitutional

Jack Rogers, John E. Jackson, ass't La. atty gen
Leon Hubert, Arthur Kinoy

Feb 4, 1965 S1-P25
La. Would Give Papers to SCEF
Documents Taken in Raid on Headquarters

Fed Judge Robert A. Ainsworth
Ass't AG John E. Jackson
docs turned over to Orleans Parish DA
Milton Brener, atty for Dombrowski
$200k damage suit
insurance policy, stock certificates among papers seized
ADA Charles Ward

Feb 17, 1965 S3-P6
Papers in SCEF Raid Returned
Dombrowski, Brener and D.A. Office Agree

41 cartons, delivered to D.A. by Jack N. Rogers
stipulation that photostats or other copies may be used in court

April 27, 1965 S1-P13 Key Points of La. Subversive Act Killed
High Court Rules 5-2 in Case Involving SCEF

To Help in 'Free Speech in Louisiana' - Rubin

June 30, 1965 S1-P7 La. Subversive Curb Attacked
Two U.S. Judges Stay Enforcement

Judges Wisdom & West
Dombroski, SCEF, Ben Smith, Bruce Waltzer
temp. injunction pending hearing
Jesse Knowles, new LUAC chmn, Maj. Russell Willie
attempt to pass new statute that would withstand court test

Jan 16, 1966 S1-P1
Fund to Move Headquarters
Knowles Says Exposure Causes Action
SCEF moving to Louisville, KY

Feb 6, 1966 S1-P9
Eastland Wins in SCEF Appeal
Wash(AP) Feb 13, 1966 S1-P20
Protest March Staged Uptown
Demonstrators Cheered, Jeered, Hit by Eggs

anti-Viet Nam war
Benjamin Smith & wife
counter demonstrators:
Kent Courtney
Carlos Bringuier

Nov 16, 1966 S3-P12
Pfister Held Not Immune to Suit

U.S. Fifth remanded to U.S. District Court
Pfister's legislative immunity at issue
SCEF has affidavits from some LUAC members claiming they did not know about raid before hand

Oct 21, 1967 S1-P26
AD: Let's Stop the War

Mrs. Paul Blanchard, Benjamin E. Smith, Albert D'Orlando
Alan E. Helseth, Matt Herron, H.W. Kloepfer, Robert Zellner

Jan 16, 1968 S1-P12
New Democrat Group Formed
State Organization to Back McCarthy

chmn Benjamin E. Smith v-p La. ACLU
will work with Leander Perez for primary

Jan 25, 1968 S2-P4
Two Attorneys Give Testimony
They Allege Harassment in Rights Cases

Richard Sobol, arrested in Plaquemines
Ben Smith, John P. Nelson

Feb 11, 1968 S1-P7
Vietnam Policy Attacked Here
Dissenting Demo Favors Dismissing Rusk

Gerald Hill, SF atty
Conference of Concerned Demos
Benjamin E. Smith

May 3, 1969 S4-P22
Group's Charge Retracted

9 of 10 LUAC members apologze to SCEF
to drop $750K damage suit
Harold Montgomery refused to sign
[good quotes]

The Martin Luther King, Jr., FBI File
edited by David J. Garrow
Univerity Publications of America, Frederick MD, c1984-c1987.

Reel 3, Frame 400

Memorandum dated 5/26/64, file 100-106610
F. J. Baumgardner to W. C. Sullivan

[A 5/18/64 article in the Jackson, Mississippi Daily News reproduced a check from the SCEF made out to Martin Luther King. Baumgardner stated the th 11/19/63 report of the Lousiana Joint Legislative Committee on Un-American Activities was the probable source of this information. He goes on to say ...]

       The above mentioned report sets forth the results of the hearings of the State of Louisiana Committee and for the most part is unspecific as to dates of Communist Party membership on the part of the SCEF director, also contains many conclusions, inferences and hearsay evidence which nevertheless lead to specific factual conclusions by the Committee. These hearings resulted in [sic] a raid on the SCEF on 10/4/63 by Louisiana State Police and New Orleans Police. As a result of the raids, leaders of the SCEF were arrested for violation of the Louisiana Subversive Activties and Communist Control Law, the constitutionality of which is being tested in the courts. We have stayed out of this entire matter in view of the considerable legal and political implications involved.
       The SCEF is currently under investigation as a Communist Party front group...

Congressional Record - Senate Feb 3, 1965 pp 1943-53

Statement by Senator James Eastland

Communist Forces Behind the Negro Revolution in this Country


       [Senator Eastland was worked up over the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. So he was attacking its supporters. Here is what he said about Benjamin Smith, of SCEF raid fame.]

       Along with [Arthur] Kinoy and [William] Kunstler, Benjamin E. Smith as named as one of the three who guide the legal affairs of the Freedom Party. Whether or not because of his position as legal counsel, this Benjamin Smith is indeed a very strong supporter of the Mississippi Freedom Party and its objectives. He was at one time, and may still be, one of two men in charge of the activities of a special task force sent into Mississippi by the National Lawyers Guild to aid in registration of Negroes to vote.

       Benjamin E. Smith is a member of the firm of Smith & Waltzer in New Orleans, La.

       Smith is a member of the National Lawyers Guild and has served on its executive board. He is a politically minded man, and was active in left-wing politics before he could vote. In 1948, at the age of 21, he was named a presidential elector on the Henry Wallace ticket.

       Benjamin Smith had an early association - more than 10 years ago with Hunter Pitts O'Dell, then a Communist Party District organizer, who subsequently, and much more recently, became an assistant to Martin Luther King.

       In October 1954, Benjamin E. Smith was one of 175 signers of a letter to President Eisenhower urging him to grant amnesty to "political prisoners convicted under the Smith Act."

       In 1956, in sworn testimony before the Internal Security Subcommittee at a hearing in New Orleans, La., Smith denied that he had ever been a member of the Communist Party. [Smith was serving as an attorney for a witness at the hearings.]

       In Sping of 1958, Benjamin E. Smith was appointed assistant district attorney of the parish of New Orleans [sic]. This came about in an interesting way. The newly elected district attorney was one Richard A. Dowling, who had been identified in the July 1938 issue of _Equal Justice_ as an attorney for the Internation Labor Defense in New Orleans, who had been a member of the National Committee of the International Juridical Association in 1942, and who was listed in 1938 as a member of the Lawyers' Committee on American Relations with Spain. District Attorney Dowling appointed one J. David McNeil as his executive assistant. Mr McNeil had been a member of the International Labor Defense and had been identified with the National Lawyers' Guild and with the Southern Conference for Human Welfare. At the same time that he appointed McNeil as his executive assistant, Dowling named Benjamin E. Smith as assistant District Attorney.

       Benjamin E. Smith went to Cuba near the end of December, 1960, and stayed about 2 weeks, reportedly as a guest of the Mational Lawyers' College of Cuba, to attend events commemorating the second anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. Smith reportedly has claimed that Fidel Castro has done a great deal to help the Cuban people and that the American press has given a distorted picture of the Castro Regime.

[Who "reported" this to Eastland? Guy Banister?]

       In October of 1961 or prior thereto, Smith was employed by the Republic of Cuba; and in 1964 both Benjamin E. Smith and his partner, Bruce C. Waltzer, were registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as agents of the Republic of Cuba.

       Smith was elected a vice president of the National Lawyers Guild at its national convention in Detroit, Mich., in February of last year [1964].

[End of Eastland's rant.]


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