Jerry P. Shinley Archive:
Why Did Jim Garrison Call a Preliminary Hearing for Clay Shaw?



Subject: Why Did Garrison Call a Preliminary Hearing?
Date: Sat, 08 January 2000 08:25 PM EST
Message-id: <858o2n$dgu$>

New Orleans Times-Picayune March 3, 1967 S1-P1

Plot Evidence Alleged, But Shaw Denies Guilt
Warrant Request Gives Basis of Case


       In another development Thursday [2nd], a preliminary hearing for Shaw was set for March 14. It was requested by Garrison - an unusual step for the prosecution. Guy Johnson, an attorney for Shaw said: "We do not understand the motivation of Mr. Garrison."

       The motion for the preliminary hearing was given to Judge Bernard J. Bagert, who was sitting as committing magistrate Thursday. Judge Bagert allotted the case to himself the next time he sits as committing magistrate, which is March 14. Charles R. Ward of the DA's office presented the motion. Judge Bagert said it is "unusual" for the state to request the preliminary hearing.


New Orleans Times-Picayune March 9, 1967 S1-P1

Judge May Call Informant

       Criminal District Judge Bernard J. Bagert indicated Wednesday [8th] that District Attorney Jim Garrison's office may have to produce its "confidential informant" it its case against Clay L. Shaw [...].


       The judge, however, overruled a motion by defense attorneys to quash a preliminary hearing set for next Thursday [14th].

       Bagert also dismissed six articles of a bill of particulars filed by the defense.

       The motion for the bill of particulars requested the following.

       1. What crime is he (defendant) alleged to have committed?

       2. If the crime is one of conspiracy what are the names of the alleged conspirators?

       3. On what day is it contended that defendant committed the offense charged?

       4. At what time of day is it contended that defendant committed the offense charged.

       5. In what parish and state was the offense alleged committed?

       6. What action, if any, did the conspirators take in furtherance of the object of the alleged conspiracy, and on what day, time and place did such action occur?

       7. What are the name, identity and address of the confidential informant referred to in the application for search warrant and the affidavit filed in support of the said application for warrant?

       Judge Bagert referred the seventh article to the hearing and said it was his inclination the informant would be revealed.


       In the action to quash the preliminary hearing, the defense argued a Louisiana court "has not jurisdiction of the offense charged, since the murder of John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas."

       The defense maintained that only an overt act in Orleans Parish would being the case within the jurisdiction of the New Orleans court, and that the district attorney has not charged any such act occurred.

       The judge upheld the district attorney's office, which argued the proper legal procedure was being followed, and that the pattern set by law did not allow the defense to submit motions prior to Tuesday's preliminary hearing.

       The hearing was requested by Garrison. Defense attorney Guy Johnson said he may ask the Louisiana Supreme court to block it.

       The other two defense attorneys, William and Edward Wegmann, contended the accusation against Shaw is too broad and deprives the defendant of his constitutional right to be informed of the nature of the charge against him.

       William Wegmann said the defense could not conduct its case without specific allegations from the DA.

       Assistant district attorneys Michael Karmazin and James Alcock said there is no basis in law for filing a bill of particulars when there is no actual charge against the defendant. Legally, Shaw is not charged, but only booked.

       Johnson in his motion to quash, contended the DA's office has failed to file an affidavit, information or indictment against the defendant and therefore there exists nothing in the form of a legal proceeding to be heard by the court Tuesday.

       Judge Bagert said defense counsel was present when the state filed the motion for the preliminary hearing and asked if the defense had not acquiesced in the hearing.

       All three defense attorneys replied, "No, we did not."

       Johnson said the defense took no position on the hearing and wants the bill of particulars before any hearing is held.

       The judge, in overruling, said there can be no adjudication of guilt or innocence here.

       William Wegmann said "I disagree violently with the finding. We are entitled to cross-examine. We are entitled to be prepared and not come in here and shoot off the cuff. We don't want to come in here Tuesday and have the state go wild and put on a big show."

       Assistant DA Alvin Oser said the defense had no right to contend the state is "going to put on any show." He said all the state must do is show a prima facie case and probable cause.

       "Cause for what?" Wegmann asked. There is no such thing as a conspiracy by one man."

       "Following the hearing, Oser was asked about the defense request that the informant be produced. "They will get everything they asked for Tuesday," he answered.


New Orleans Times-Picayune March 11, 1967 S1-P1

Shaw Lawyer's Pleas Granted
Hearing Slated Tuesday Brings Action

       Attorneys for Clay L. Shaw [...] Friday [10th] were granted three requests before a preliminary hearing for Shaw Tuesday [14th].

       One of the requests approved in behalf of Shaw [...] was a special hearing to be held at 11 a. m. Monday [13th] before the three-judge panel which will preside at the preliminary hearing Tuesday.

       The Criminal District Court Judges are Bernard J. Bagert, Malcolm V. O'Hara and Matthew S. Braniff. Judge Bagert says he expects defense attorneys to seek new motions for Shaw Monday.

       Also the attorneys were granted permission to photograph the apartment of David W. Ferrie [...].

       The other motion asked that F. Irvin Dymond be added to the attorneys of record for Shaw. It was also granted.


New Orleans Times-Picayune March 14, 1967 S1-P1

Three Shaw Motions are Denied by Court
Preliminary Hearing Set for 10:30 a.m. Today

       The special three-judge court that will preside at Tuesday's preliminary hearing for Clay L. Shaw denied three motions filed by his attorneys on Monday [13th], including one questioning the legality of the three-man panel.


       The three motions filed by Shaw's attorneys on Monday were:

       - that the order of the court in setting up the three-judge panel to handle the preliminary hearing be set aside and quashed.

       - that Shaw be permitted to inspect and reclaim property seized from his home on March 1, the day he was arrested.

       - that the defense be permitted to use its own court reporters so it would have a readily available transcript of the hearing.


       Judge Bagert said Monday that he, as presiding judge, will issue all rulings during the preliminary hearing; that he will consult with his associate judges; that decisions will be reached by a majority vote, and that the court will not entertain any individual queries as to how the judges voted on any manner.

       Judge Bagert made his announcement following a short recess after the defense attorneys had filed their motion to quash and set aside the order of the court.

       The defense listed nine reasons why it felt the three=judge court should be set aside:

       - It is without precedent in Louisiana or New Orleans.

       - It is without foundation or authorization in law.

       - It is tantamount to a trial by jury and as such an abridgement of Shaw's constitutional guarantee to have the case decided by the judge regularly assigned.

       - It is a deprivation of his right to allotment as called for by law.

       - There are no promulgated rules of court or law to control or govern the operation of the three-man panel and existing guidelines, if they exist, have not been given the defendant up until the time of Monday's hearing.

       - If the case is a magistrate hearing, the action is unprecedented.

       - If this action is taken in the instant cause, it must apply equally to all future defendants in magistrate or preliminary hearings.

       - Shaw is entitled to "voir dire" examination of any jury which is to try any phase of the proceeding.

       - Shaw pleads the unconstitutionality of Rule II of the Criminal District Court rules, alleging "that the interpretation of said rule so as to permit a trial on an issue of fact by more than one presiding judge is in direct violation" of state and federal constitutions.


[end of excerpts]

       My guess is that Garrison arrested Shaw so hurriedly that he couldn't provide a detailed conspiracy charge, so he called the preliminary hearing, in part, to stall for time. If not, why did Garrison's assistants object to providing Shaw's attorneys will details such as in what state and parish his crime was committed? How is that bending over backwards to be fair to the defense?

Jerry Shinley

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