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.


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