The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Officer John Perkins



JOHN N. PERKINS, JR., having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

Q: Officer Perkins, would you please state your full name for the record.

A: John N. Perkins, Jr.

Q: Are you presently attached to the New Orleans Police Department?

A: Yes, sir, I am.

Q: What is your present assignment, sir?

A: I am assigned to Central Lockup, B of I Division.

Q: Are you familiar with the procedures used in the B of I Division of the Central Lockup?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Now, precisely what are your duties in the B of I Division, Officer Perkins?

A: The fingerprinting and type up the FBI orders and the local cards, New Orleans cards.

Q: (Exhibiting document to witness) I show you a document which has been marked for identification "D-16," purporting to be a sheet from the original Arrest Register, and I ask you if you are familiar with that document.

A: With this type of document?

Q: That is correct.

A: Yes, sir, I am.

MR. ALCOCK: Your Honor, I am going to object to any further questioning of this officer unless it be demonstrated he was present on March 1. I get the impression he wasn't.

MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, Mr. Alcock's impression is correct, this officer was not present on March 1. The purpose of his testimony is to show the normal Police procedure.

THE COURT: I understand your purpose. You may proceed.

Q: Now, Officer Perkins, this sheet from the original Arrest Register, do you ever see this when you are fingerprinting and mugging a prisoner?

A: No, sir, not as long as I am in B of I, I don't see this particular sheet, that is, the original.

Q: I mean do you see the original of such a sheet?

A: I see the fingerprint copy, the white sheet and the fingerprint copy and Records Division sheet.

Q: I show you the exhibit marked for identification "D-17," and I ask you whether you can pick out the documents, if they are in here, which you do see when you are fingerprinting a prisoner. Would you place your initials on them if you find them.

A: (Witness marks copies.)

Q: Now, do you make any use of these documents which you have marked?

A: What?

Q: Do you make any use of the documents which you have initialed, in connection with your fingerprinting procedure?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: What do you do with them?

A: I look at them and verify that the information is correct, and type the information onto the FBI and local cards.

Q: I see. Do you know where the information on this Arrest Register comes from?

A: On the Arrest Register?

Q: Yes.

A: Comes from the Field Arrest.

Q: That is correct. (Exhibiting document to witness) I show you what has been marked for identification "D-15," and I ask you whether that is the type document that you have referred to as the Field Arrest?

A: Yes, sir, it is.

THE COURT: Mr. Dymond, would you permit an interruption?

MR. DYMOND: Surely.

Q: Officer Perkins, in the normal routine of fingerprinting people, do you have to ask them any questions at all, or is all the information you need on the report?

A: Have to verify it.

Q: Not to verify. Do you have any information that you need to put on the fingerprint card? Do you get that information from these copies?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What is the necessity of speaking to the person?

A: Well, you have to verify, because sometimes the desk sergeant may make a typographical error.

Q: You mean the spelling of a word?

A: The spelling of a name?

Q: Yes, sir, or just a typographical error, and I have to have this information when I -- I have to call the FBI in Headquarters to relate this information and it has to be correct, has to also have the correct date of birth and white race, et cetera.

Q: In other words, you repeat the question on the fingerprint card that you make up.

THE COURT: May I see that, Mr. Dymond?

(Document handed to the Court.)

Q: In other words, Officer Perkins, you start off after you have fingerprinted, and then you put this in the typewriter, or do you put it in the typewriter before you fingerprint?

A: No, sir, I fingerprint them. I get them to sign the card first.

Q: Sign it?

A: Right, sir.

Q: When do you type up this information?

A: After he has been fingerprinted.

Q: Then what do you do? You ask him his name? Is that what you do, or do you get that information from --

A: No, I get this information first.

Q: From where?

A: I get it from him when I check on it -- before I call the FBI -- I have to ask his correct name.

Q: Don't you have that information on two, three, seven or eight copies, that someone has gotten from him already?

A: It might be a typographical error.

Q: But you do orally question him?

A: Yes, sir, right?

Q: Do you ask them if they have any aliases?

A: Also ask them if they have any previous records. Don't ask them at this particular time if they have an alias. I want to know the correct name, date of birth, white, male, et cetera -- I can see this with my own eyes -- then I then call the FBI and relate this information to them. Then if the man is new, never been fingerprinted before, he informs me of such. Then I give the subject a new number. Then after this then we proceed to fingerprint.

Q: Now when. I want to know what you do.

A: If I am fingerprinting I will proceed to fingerprint them.

Q: With respect to this area of aliases, did you put in there an alias without speaking to the man, by taking it from other pieces of record or record sheets that you have in your possession?

A: It all depends -- there is no procedure -- I mean it all depends on the situation, some people you will ask them for their aliases and some you don't. There is no specific procedure that you have to ask them.

Q: How could a man like Habighorst be able to take fingerprints? If they weren't giving him copies that he was supposed to get, would that be a mistake not to give him copies of this -- is it No. 2, 3 -- what else?

A: He could do it.

Q: By asking questions?

A: He would have to get the information form the Field Arrest or from the desk sergeant.

Q: Suppose he didn't get it, suppose he didn't have it at the time, somebody forgot to give it to him.

A: I wouldn't know how he could do it.

Q: Except by asking questions?

A: Asking questions, yes, sir.

Q: The ordinary routine is to send No. 2, No. 3, whatever other copy you marked, to the man who is going to do the fingerprinting?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Have you ever had occasion where they didn't send it to you?

A: In other words, to start the procedure without the papers?

Q: Yes.

A: No, sir, I haven't.

Q: How long have you been in that Department?

A: Four months.

Q: Have you done it one time?

A: Not me, no.

Q: (Exhibiting document to witness) Now, Officer Perkins, I show you an exhibit which has been marked for identification "State 60," and I ask you to tell me what this card represents.

A: This card is the FBI card.

Q: Now, is it your testimony in response to the Judge's questions, that it is customary to have the prisoner sign this card in blank?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And that after he signs it the information is typed on and the fingerprints are put on? Is that correct?

A: After he signs it the fingerprints are put on, then it is typed.

Q: Officer Perkins, suppose a prisoner refuses to sign that fingerprint card, what happens? can he make bond or not?

A: I really don't know, sir.

Q: You don't know?

A: That is something that hasn't really been established.

Q: I see.

MR. DYMOND: That is all. We tender the witness.

Q: Officer Perkins, I take it then you were not in the Bureau of Identification or in the Central Lockup on the night of March 1, is that correct?

A: That is correct, sir.

Q: Then you would have no way of knowing what happened. Would that also be correct?

A: That is also correct.

Q: Now, if the man taking the prints did not have access to the Arrest Register or the Field Arrest form, would it not be possible for him to fill out these few blanks by merely asking the arrestee for the information?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: In other words, Officer, the man taking the fingerprints was trying to expedite matters, and before he got this information, that is, the booking, the Arrest Register and the Field Arrest Report, he could go ahead and finish his work by merely asking the man the few questions contained on here, couldn't he?

A: I would say he could.

Q: You see nothing impossible about that, do you?

A: No, sir.

MR. ALCOCK: No further questions.

MR. DYMOND: That is all.

(Witness excused.)

MR. DYMOND: Call Mr. Edward Wegmann.


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