Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Legal Imperatives of the JFK Assassination

The Legal Imperatives of the JFK Assassination
By William Kelly

Among the long withheld and recently released records on the assassination of President Kennedy is a memo from the head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover dated November 24, 1963, the day the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot and killed while in police custody.

"There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead," Hoover wrote. "The thing that I am concerned having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.

"Oswald having been killed today after our warnings to the Dallas Police Department is inexcusable. It will allow, I am afraid, a lot of civil rights people to raise a lot of hell because he was handcuffed and had no weapon. There are bound to be some elements of our society who will holler their heads off that his civil rights were violated -- which they were."

In his book, "On the Trail of the JFK Assassins" (Herman Graf/Skyhorse, NY 2008), Dick Russell wrote Chapter 31 on The Reflections of Marina Oswald Porter, the accused assassin's widow, who requested Dick set up a meeting  in 1992 between her and a group of lawyers.

She had one simple question for them: "how do you find a way to (officially) reopen the investigation?"

The meeting, held by a crackling fireplace in Dick's living room, included some local Boston attorneys as well as Jim Lesar and Dan Alcorn of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC) in Washington D.C.

Marina asked them: "Is there a King Solomon nowhere in the  lawyer community to come up with some clever thing?"

"Forget me, this is not a personal vendetta," she said. "I'd like to figure out a more radical approach, from a legal point of view."

While they considered a Texas Grand Jury, and the use of the JFK Act granting the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) the ability to subpoena witnesses and question them under oath, a power they failed to adequately use, Lesar said, "The best evidence on a state prosecutional level revolves around concealment and obstruction of justice."

"And so basically," wrote Russell, "after several hours our discussion ended so much further along than when it began. Some of the finest legal minds in the country had come together, with the widow of the accused assassin, in hopes of finding some way to reopen the case. Thirty years after the fact, it seemed pretty hopeless, short of someone's deathbed confession. That night, a violinist friend played for Marina. One composition he performed was 'Song of the Lark.' More than one of us had tears in our eyes."

And now, a quarter of a century later, we are still crying, as the JFK Act is being violated and trampled on, the records ordered released are still being withheld, and there seems to be no legal recourse.

Where are the lawyers and judges - "is there a King Solomon no where in the lawyer community to come up with some clever thing?" - As Marina put it.

The murder of Oswald in Dallas Police custody was not only a clear cut violation of his civil rights, it halted, stopped the normal legal criminal procedures that would have kicked in for any homicide, let alone the murder of the President in broad daylight on a Texas street.

Other laws have been passed since JFK was killed. Besides the JFK Act, there's the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Federal Grand Juries, RICO - Rackettering Conspiracy statute that is used against organized crime and drug cartels, and Congressmen have recently introduced another JFK Act II.

As the attorneys who met with Marina in Dick Russell's living room concluded: "Texas was realistically the only place something could happen."

An investigative grand jury was suggested, "but the problem is, you have to convince Texas to do it."

Well now that might just happen.

A trial in Texas is scheduled for November 16-17 at the South Texas College of Law in Houston - Texas v. Lee Harvey Oswald, in front of a real Judge and presented by a real prosecutor. The evidence will be re-evaluated by the latest 21st Century forensic techniques and expert witnesses, and  Oswald will be posthumously defended by San Francisco defense attorney Bill Simpich, New York City lawyer Larry Schnapf and former NYC prosecutor Robert Tanenbaum, who also served as head of the JFK Task Force with Richard Sprague, the first Chief Counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).

Simpich and Schnapf serve as co-chairs of the Legal Committee of CAPA - Citizens Against Political Assassinations, a non-profit org led by renown forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht.

The two-day Thursday and Friday event will be filmed and available for live streaming over the internet and will be interrupted by a formal CAPA diner featuring actor Alec Baldwin, who is know to embrace controversial causes and impersonate Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, an act appropriate considering the recent furor over the continued withholding of secret government files on the assassination.

When I was in Dallas for a conference I met a professional juror. They explained that insurance companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on such mock trials in order to learn what would happen in a real trial, and determine whether it would be would be worthwhile to go to trial or settle out of court. So it is a valid legal venue.

And it is just the first of a series of events that could lead to a legal resolution of the case, and if not justice, get to the truth of what really happened at Dealey Plaza.

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