The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Lloyd Cobb





1426 (30)

February 21, 1969


LLOYD J. COBB, a witness for the Defense, after first being duly sworn by The Minute Clerk, was examined and testified as follows:

Q: Mr. Cobb, for the record would you kindly state your full name.

A: My name is Lloyd J. Cobb.

Q: Mr. Cobb, what is your occupation?

A: I am a lawyer.

Q: Are you now or have you ever been associated with or affiliated with the International Trade Mart here in New Orleans?

A: Yes.

Q: In what capacity, sir?

A: Well, I was original founder of the Trade Mart back in 1946 and served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee and as a Vice-President until the death of Mr. William Zetzmann, Sr. in March 1962 shortly after which I became President.

Q: That is President of the Trade Mart?

A: Of International Trade Mart.

Q: Are you still the President of the International Trade Mart?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, Mr. Cobb, are you acquainted with Mr. Clay Shaw, the Defendant in this case?

A: Yes.

Q: How long have you known him, sir?

A: Since about 1946 when the Trade Mart was in it original organizational stages.

Q: At that time was Mr. Shaw affiliated with the Trade Mart?

A: No.

Q: When if ever, did he become affiliated with the Trade Mart and in what capacity?

A: He became affiliated with the Trade Mart about 1946 to facilitate the remodeling of the old Baldwin Building on Camp and Common Streets until it became the original Trade Mart and he participated in the original financing and organization of the Trade Mart.

Q: Now did he become affiliated with the Trade Mart after you became President or before?

A: I became President in 1962, in March 1962, and he had been affiliated with the Trade Mart since 1946, approximately.

Q: Now when you became President of the Trade Mart in what capacity was Mr. Shaw affiliated with the Trade Mart?

A: He was Managing Director.

Q: And how long did he continue in that position to your knowledge, sir?

A: Until October 1965.

Q: Did he leave this position voluntarily or if not under what circumstances?

A: He left it entirely voluntarily. I think that answers the question.

Q: Now as Managing Director of the Trade Mart in general and more particularly during the year 1963, what was the nature of his duties?

A: In 1963 he was acting as he had acted previously as Managing Director of the Trade Mart and as such he was in charge of the rental space and attention to exhibits in the Mart there and publication of the Mart's image generally.

In June of 1963 a contract was made with Blyth & Company in New York which had to do with the financing of the new Trade Mart which has been built at the head of Canal Street. After June of 1962, after June of '63 his responsibilities were directed towards handling his old job as I described and also facilitating in every way possible the creation of the new International Trade Mart complex.

Q: Now, during the months of August, September and October 1963 was there anything unusual going on in connection with the new Trade Mart Building?

A: We think it was unusual.

Q: Will you please describe that.

A: About June, about July 1963 this financing contract was entered into between the International Trade Mart and Bloomfield Building Industries, which later built the building, and Blyth & Company for the sale of bonds to finance the new 33-story structure and the contract provided that the closing date would be October 8, 1963, a period of 90 days.

During that time the Trade Mart was under the obligation when the bonds were to be issued to do many things, one of which was to get bonafide leases to support the bond issue. The bond issue was to be for $12,800,000.00 and it was necessary to inaugurate a crash campaign to get leases from tenants, which leases were to produce $1,425,000.00 as I recall it, gross annual rental to support the $12,800,000.00 bond issue, and the bond issue ultimately concluded on October 10, 1963 in New York.

Q: Now during the say three months preceding October '63, did Mr. Shaw have any duties in connection with the negotiating of these leases for the proposed Trade Mart?

A: Well, as I have described it, it was a crash operation and as President of International Trade Mart, and the man responsible for putting the deal together and bringing about the issuance of the bonds to make the Trade Mart possible, it was my responsibility to delegate work, and the work load of obtaining the leases was delegated to Mr. Shaw for many reasons. There were about 40 or 44 foreign consuls here in New Orleans and Shaw had been working with them over a long period of years so naturally he was delegated to try and obtain leases from them, which in turn meant in many instances the changing of the offices then occupied into the new building. He was also in direct charge and was responsible for obtaining other leases to make up the total the investment company and the insurance company standing by would require before they would buy the bonds.

Q: Would you or would you not term that a busy period, Mr. Cobb?

MR. ALCOCK: Object, Your Honor, as the question is --

THE COURT: I will permit the question under the circumstances. You may answer.

THE WITNESS: It was busy to this extent. I practice law and during that period of time I worked on the project every day, I don't recall even if I took a day off during that whole period. We had a dedicated team and had a job to do and I had delegated it and everybody knew what his responsibility as and we were working under adverse conditions because many civic and public institutions in New Orleans and the press were not in favor of the project and, and it was a crash program in every sense of the word. There wasn't a moment when it was left unattended.

Q: Now, you say that you worked every day on this. How many days a week?

A: I personally worked probably around the clock except for a little time out at home on Sundays I worked around the clock.

Q: You worked on Saturdays?

A: I worked on Saturdays, on Sundays, I can't tell you how many Sundays, but Sundays, Saturdays, holidays.

Q: Mr. Cobb, in connection with the work you were were doing on the project and Mr. Shaw, was it necessary for you to contact him frequently or not?

A: Well, in the nature of things it was absolutely necessary. Shaw had the responsibility for obtaining leases from the counsels and foreign governments; had responsibility for obtaining other leases; and in addition to that we were dealing with many public agencies. For instance, we were dealing with the Board of Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans which involved the demolition of the Dock Board Headquarters at the head of Canal Street and the exchange of that property for two squares that the Trade Mart owned that now form a part of Rivergate. We were busily engaged at that time working out with the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad the relocation of all railroad tracks of the Public Belt on the riverfront. We were engaged with Southern Pacific Railroad moving that railroad after 100 years clean off the riverfront. We were engaged with the Dock Board too in revamping the ferry landing at Canal Street and then we were working almost constantly with Edward Durel Stone, the architect of the Trade Mart, on the plans and specifications which had to be submitted to the investment house at the time of the closing, and Mr. Shaw was, Shaw did more of that work I think than anybody else deciding what would go into the building and where and what the cost would be and so forth.

Q: When you say "we," in your testimony, to whom are you referring?

A: In connection with the Trade Mart project?

Q: That is correct. In outlining what you had to do.

A: The whole project was put together by a good many people but the responsibility in the final analysis rested on, I would say, three people.

Q: Who were those three people?

A: It rested on Clay Shaw to obtain the leases and Mr. Jimmy Coleman and his office who worked with me on a day-to-day basis, working out all the legal details in connection with the Mart and they were considerable because when I went to New York on October 8 to conclude the issue I carried with me 44 separate legal documents and over 100 leases all of which had to be approved by counsel here, Mr. Coleman and his associate, Mr. Yuratich and myself. Others worked on the project but the great bulk of the work virtually all was done by that small team.

Q: You say you were working with Mr. James Coleman on a day-to-day basis. On what basis were you working with Clay Shaw?

A: I was working with Clay Shaw during that period almost on a constant basis. I don't mean I was with him but my office is in the Whitney Bank Building and his office was in the International Trade Mart Building and we were talking back and forth throughout the period in the negotiation of leases and I was calling on him and he was asking me for advice with respect to approaches to be made to this tenant or that tenant and more or less constantly dealing together.

Q: Do you recall any work days during that approximate three-month period that you were not in touch with Clay Shaw?

A: Well, I recall there was one day during that period when I was not in touch with him because he had requested me --

MR. ALCOCK: I'm going to object to anything Shaw said to him.

THE WITNESS: One day, then.

THE COURT: I think he could say what Mr. Cobb would do as a result of a conversation with Mr. Shaw. You may rephrase your question.

Q: My question was whether you remembered any days you had not been in contact with him during that three-month period.

A: I do remember one day.

Q: Do you know where he was during that one day?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: To your knowledge, was any representative of the Trade Mart able to reach him on that day?

A: To my knowledge, yes.

Q: Where was he reached?

A: In Hammond, Louisiana.

Q: Hammond, Louisiana?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you know what day that was, Mr. Cobb?

A: The date was September 25, 1963.

Q: Mr. Cobb, you are pretty familiar with Louisiana?

A: Yes.

Q: How far approximately is Hammond, Louisiana from Clinton, Louisiana, roughly?

A: I would say about 90 miles.

Q: Now, Mr. Cobb, in view of the nature and intensity of the work you and Mr. Shaw were performing at that time if he had been absent from work on a work day would you have noticed it?

A: I would have done more than noticed it.

Q: What would you have done?

A: Well, all of us were working as a dedicated team and there would have been a point made as he was being paid and I wasn't. We had a job to do and we were out to get it done.


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