Don's Blog: Court Activity Related to Clay Shaw Prosecution and Civil Suit

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Court Activity Related to Clay Shaw Prosecution and Civil Suit

The prosecution of Clay Shaw, and his later civil suit against New Orleans Jim Garrison and others, generated quite a bit of court activity during the period from March 1967 through May 1978. As I detail in my biography of Clay Shaw, Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw, Shaw's attorneys, led by Irvin Dymond and Edward Wegmann, first attempted to avoid prosecution for Clay Shaw altogether. They raised objections over the vagueness of the charges, the venue where the case would be tried, the selection of the jury and the pool from which it would be selected, and other things. Once those moves had been heard through the Louisiana state court system, they moved to Federal District Court in an attempt to prove that Clay Shaw's civil rights were being violated. Those issues were litigated up through the appellate courts until the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Shaw's appeal.

After the case was tried, and Shaw found not guilty, Shaw was charged with perjury for his testimony during the trial. Almost two years later, Shaw attorneys, after litigating the new charges through the state court system, returned to Federal Court in a new attempt to show that Shaw's civil right had been violated. This time, a Federal district judge ruled that the continuing prosecution was essentially in bad faith, and otder that the prosecution not continue. His ruling was then litigated up the Federal court system until the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear it, and the dkistrict judge's ruling stood.

Meanwhile, Clay Shaw's civil suit against Jim Garrison for wrongful prosecution, begun in 1970, continued up through the Federal courts. Key issues had to be decided: could the suit against District Attorney Jim Garrison even proceed? Could the suit continue after Shaw's death?

A full discussion of these complex issues and decisions, many of which are still relevant today, are contained in the bio.

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