The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Henry Earl Palmer



HENRY EARL PALMER, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

Q: Please state your name for the record.

A: Henry Earl Palmer, P-a-l-m-e-r.

Q: That is Henry Earl Palmer?

A: Correct.

Q: What is your address, Mr. Palmer?

A: Jackson, Louisiana.

Q: And how long have you lived in Jackson?

A: Practically all my life.

Q: What is your occupation?

A: I am Registrar of Voters for the Parish of East Feliciana.

Q: And where is your office located?

A: In Clinton, Louisiana.

Q: And how long have you been Registrar of Voters in Clinton?

A: Eleven years.

Q: So I take it you were the Registrar of Voters in 1963?

A: That is correct.

Q: And where was your office located in 1963?

A: On St. Helena Street on the second floor of the old -- what is the name of that building? -- I don't remember the name -- the building right across the street from the garage there.

Q: In connection with your business as Registrar of Voters in Clinton, Louisiana, I call your attention to late August or early September of 1963, and I ask you if anything unusual was happening in Clinton at that time.

A: Yes. In August -- I don't know exactly what time, sometime the first of August -- the Civil Rights workers came into Clinton trying to raise -- to register the people.

Q: There was a voter registration drive?

A: There was a voter registration drive.

Q: Were there many people involved in this activity?

A: Yes, there was quite a number.

Q: Were they local people or people from out of town?

A: They had some out-of-town people in trying to get the local people to register.

Q: Did you notice any particular strangers --

A: Yes, I did.

Q: -- that day? When did you have occasion to notice them?

A: Well, about 10:30. I went in the office at 8:30 in the morning, and I started registering people, and at 10:30 I took a coffee break. I went down the stairs, and as I was going down I noticed two white people dressed similar to the CORE Workers outside, CORE Workers in the line.

Q: Were there many white people in line?

A: No others that I remember of, these were the only two that were conspicuous.

Q: And what did you say they were doing?

A: Very close together.

Q: When you say "very close together," do you mean spacewise or acquainted together?

A: There was tow or three people between them.

Q: So, in other words, you had no idea --

A: No idea.

Q: -- whether they were with each other?

A: That is right.

Q: After you passed these two people in line on the way down, what did you do then?

A: I started to cross the street to go to the cafe to get coffee, and as I started across the street I saw one of the local workers standing in the street, and just beyond him was a black Cadillac sitting there. Being a small town and very few Cadillacs in the town, I noticed it and noticed that there were two men sitting in the car.

Q: Now, how far was this Cadillac from the Registrar's office?

A: It was approximately 20 feet from the door east of the Registrar's office.

Q: (Exhibiting photograph to witness) I show you a picture that the State has marked "S-2" for purposes of identification, and I ask you if you can identify the automobile in this picture.

A: The car looks exactly like the one that was sitting in front of my office.

Q: And when you passed this automobile on the way to the coffee shop, approximately how far from the automobile were you?

A: I must have gotten within 16 feet of it, something along that, 16 or 20 feet.

Q: You mentioned the CORE worker standing near the automobile. Do you know this CORE Worker's name?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: What is his name?

A: Corrie Collins.

Q: He was working with the CORE people?

A: Yes. He had just begun; he had registered a short time before that, and he had taken over as the President of the CORE chapter in Clinton.

Q: Did you have any conversation as regards this car, with anyone?

A: Yes, when I got across the street.

Q: What did you say and who did you say it to?

THE COURT: Let me caution you, Mr. Palmer, you can state the name of the person you spoke to and you can state what you said, but you cannot state what he said in reply to what you said. Understand me?

THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: Good. Go ahead.

A: I don't remember who I met across the street, it was somebody over in front of the barber shop, and -- Judge, I don't know how I am going to --

THE COURT: I know it is going to be difficult. Just tell us what you said, don't tell us what he said. See if you can try to do it.

Q: Just tell us what you told him, if anything.

A: I didn't tell the man anything, he told me something, and I saw a law officer there -- and I don't remember which law officer it was, but it was one of the local officers -- and I told him to get a 1028 on the car.

Q: Now, what is a 1028?

A: It is a registration, license registration check.

Q: In other words, checking out the identification of the automobile?

A: That is correct.

Q: Was this a common practice during this time?

A: Yes, it was; when there were strange cars in town we tried to find out who they were.

Q: What about strange individuals in town? Weren't you particularly interested with them at the time?

A: Very much so.

Q: Would you make it a point to notice any strangers during this time?

A: We did, everyone that came in.

MR. DYMOND: I am going to object to leading the witness.

THE COURT: Do not lead the witness, Mr. Sciambra.

Q: Did you notice any individuals in the car?

A: Yes, I did, I saw two in the front seat.

Q: Can you describe the individual on the passenger side?

A: Well, the man on the passenger side, all I can tell you about him, he appeared -- his eyebrows were heavy and his hair needed combing. He had messed-up hair, I noticed that. That is all I could see of him.

MR. SCIAMBRA: I would like to have this marked "S-3", for purposes of identification.

(Whereupon, the document referred to by Counsel was duly marked for identification as "Exhibit S-3.")

Q: (Exhibiting photograph to witness) I show you what the State has marked "S-3" for purposes of identification, and I ask you if you recognize the individual in this picture?

A: I can't recognize the individual, but the hair and the eyebrows are similar.

Q: In other words, you would say the hair and the eyebrows are similar?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Do you know who this person is?

A: From the picture I know, now.

Q: Who is it?

A: That is Mr. Ferrie.

Q: Can you describe the man who was behind the wheel of the automobile?

A: The man that was behind the wheel, I saw him sitting down. He appeared to be a tall man, he had broad shoulders and quite gray hair, and his complexion was -- well, it wasn't light, in other words, kind of ruddy complexion.

Q: Now do you see anyone in this courtroom today who fits the same general description of the man that you saw in the automobile in Clinton?

A: I would say that man right there (indicating) has the same kind of hair, and I can't see his shoulders from the back.

MR. SCIAMBRA: Would you have the record reflect that this witness pointed to the Defendant Clay Shaw?

THE COURT: Let it be so noted in the record.

Q: How far would you say you were from the man behind the wheel when you noticed him?

A: I couldn't have been over 15 or 20 feet, somewhere in that area.

Q: And how many times would you say you had an occasion to either look at that automobile or look at the individuals in the automobile that day?

A: Well, as far as the individuals, I didn't pay any more attention to them. The car was there -- let's see, I saw it when I went to coffee, when I cam back from coffee, when I went to lunch and came back from lunch, and in the afternoon when I went to coffee and came back. That was six times I saw the car.

Q: In other words, you would say the car was there from in the morning when you first went to get coffee, which was around 9:30, if I remember correctly?

A: Or 10:30; from 10:30 to approximately 3:40 or something along in there.

Q: 10:30 in the morning until 3:40 in the afternoon?

A: Correct.

Q: Did you have any conversations with any law enforcement officer or persons in relationship to the 1028 with the automobile?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: And who did you have the conversation with?

A: I don't remember who it was. Whoever it was came back and --

MR. DYMOND: Object, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Don't tell us what you said.

THE WITNESS: I am not going to.

A: I asked him who it was.

Q: Did he tell you who it was?

A: Yes, he told me who it was.

Q: Now, in relationship to what he told you, did you have any comments or did you have any conversation with him?

A: I didn't understand you.

Q: In relationship to what he told you, did you say anything further to him?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What was it?

A: I asked him what were they doing here.

THE COURT: I can't hear you.

THE WITNESS: I asked them what those people were doing here.

Q: Did you talk to him in reference to where the automobile was from?

A: I did.

Q: What did you say to him in that regard?

A: I asked him what the International Trade Mart representatives were doing in Clinton.

Q: Did he comment about this?

A: He did.

MR. DYMOND: Object.

THE COURT: He is not asking what he said, he said did he comment. He didn't ask the witness what he said. The answer is yes, he did. That is as far as you can go.

Q: After your morning coffee break, what was the next time you left the office?

A: At noon -- I left at 1:00 o'clock, we was open from 9:00 until 1:00 and open again at 2:00 till 6:00.

Q: Now, when you left for lunch were the two white people still in line?

A: Yes, sir, they were.

Q: Were the two men still in the front seat of the car?

A: I am sure they were. I noticed it was still outside, I didn't pay any more attention, I tell you, except the car was still there.

Q: Now, when did you return from lunch?

A: I came back to the office about quarter of 1:00 -- quarter of 2:00, sorry.

Q: And the automobile was still parked there?

A: The automobile was still parked there and I noticed the two men still in it.


Back to the top




Back to Shaw trial testimony

Search trial database chronologically

Additional resources on the trial of Clay Shaw


Search this site
    powered by FreeFind

Back to JFK menu

Dave Reitzes home page