DENIED LEGAL ASSISTANCE
THE FOLLOWING WAS WRITTEN BY MY GOOD FRIEND
GIL ALSO HAS A WEBSITE>>
WAS OSWALD DENIED COUNSEL BY THE DALLAS AUTHORITIES ?
By Gil Jesus ( 2009 )
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you ever discuss your father with Lee Oswald?
Mr. PAINE. On a phone call shortly after the assassination he called
and thought it was outrageous to be pinning Lee Oswald who was a
scapegoat, an ideal person to hang the blame on. ( 2 H 392 )
Lee Harvey Oswald claimed that the Dallas Police would not let him
have a lawyer. He repeatedly asked for "someone to come forward and
give me legal assistance". Nearly every single time he appeared before
reporters, he lamented about not having counsel on his behalf.
At the same time, the Dallas authorities were telling different
stories to those who came forward in response to Oswald's pleas. One
version was that Oswald had not asked for a lawyer. A second version
was that Oswald had declined any and all legal assistance, save for
one attorney named John Abt from New York.
While Oswald did express a preference for Abt, he also requested a
second choice --- any lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU did attempt to make contact with Oswald, but its
representatives were discouraged from doing so.
OSWALD REQUESTS A LAWYER DURING THE FIRST INTERROGATION SESSION
According to the testimony of detectives Sims and Boyd, the first
interrogation session of Oswald was from 2:20 pm to 4:05 pm on Friday,
November 22nd. ( 1 )
Captain Will Fritz, testifying before the Warren Commission, said that
during this first session, Oswald requested John Abt to represent him
and as his second choice, the American Civil Liberties Union. ( 2 )
THE ACLU TO THE RESCUE....OR MAYBE NOT
Gregory Lee Olds was the President of the Dallas Civil Liberites
Union. He had been contacted by one of his board
members at 10:30pm On Friday, the 22nd, regarding Oswald's being
According to his testimony in volume 7 page 323:
He called the police station and spoke with Capt. Fritz, who told him
that Oswald had been given the opportunity
to request counsel and had not made any requests.
This of course was a lie, because as I just mentioned, Fritz told the
Commission that Oswald made known his "second
choice" of the ACLU to represent him in the very first interrogation
session, some 6-8 hours previously.
( 3 )
After deliberation, Olds and three others headed for Dallas Police
Olds and his party arrived on the fourth floor, where they met Charles
Webster, a lawyer and professor of law at SMU,
who took them in to see Capt. Glen King.
Olds testified that "Captain King ......assured us that Oswald had not
made any requests for counsel."
Two of the party went downstairs and confronted Judge David Johnston:
"Two of the others, I believe, went downstairs to the basement where
Justice of the Peace David Johnston was......
he also assured us that there had been an opportunity of--Oswald's
rights had been explained, and he had declined counsel. Said nothing
beyond that. I think that was the extent of our inquiry." ( 4 )
So here we have two different stories:
On the one hand the police say that Oswald was given the opportunity
to request counsel and he didn't, and the judge saying that he
And of course, we know that both of these accounts are lies because in
his testimony before the WC, Sgt. Gerald Hill said that Oswald had
requested counsel at the time of his arrest inside the Texas Theater.
( 5 )
Later in his testimony, Hill reiterates:
Mr. HILL .........he had previously in the theatre said he wanted his
Mr. BELIN. He had said this in the theatre?
Mr. HILL. Yes; when we arrested him, he wanted his lawyer. He knew his
( 6 )
Olds attended the Midnight Press Conference", where Oswald AGAIN
publicly requested that "someone come forward to give me legal
Having been discouraged by the police, the law professor and the judge
from contacting Oswald, Olds was
left to choose whom to believe....them or Oswald. It was a choice he'd
He testified that...
"......I have always been sorry that we didn't talk with Oswald,
because it was not clear whether we would be permitted to see him that
night or not."
Mr. STERN. But, you did not ask to see him?
Mr. OLDS. No; we did not, which I think was a mistake on my part.
( 7 )
We now know today that many of Wade's convictions in criminal court
have been overturned. ( 8 )
Olds then told the Commission that the visit of Dallas Bar Association
President H. Louis Nichols to speak with Oswald
on Saturday went a long way in reasurring Olds' questions about
suspected denial of counsel to Oswald:
Mr. OLDS. Mr. Nichols went down late this afternoon, I think around
5:30, and he reported after that that he had seen
Oswald in respect to the same reasons that we had for going down there
Saturday night, to see if he wanted some sort of legal representation,
and to make sure whether or not he was denied---being denied it, and
he said that he was satisfied that--in essence, Oswald told Nichols he
was satisfied with the situation. ( 9 )
BEFORE THE JUDGE
At the midnight press conference, Oswald told reporters that he had
appeared before a judge and had protested that
he was not allowed a lawyer:
" I was questioned by a judge. I protested at that time that I was not
representation during that very short and sweet hearing." ---Lee
In his testimony before the Warren Commission, Mr. Nichols stated that
in criminal felony cases were appointed counsel by judges at their
Mr. STERN. What is the practice in this jurisdiction regarding the
appointment of counsel for
indigents accused in criminal cases?
Mr. NICHOLS. Basically, I think that would follow the statutes which
provide that where it comes
to the attention of the court, that a man charged with a felony is not
represented by an attorney
that the court will appoint an attorney to represent him. .........
.....The usual procedure is, I believe, when it comes to the attention
of the judge that an
accused in jail is not represented by an attorney--I am talking about
a felony case now---or a
man, whether he is in jail or not, if he makes requests of the court
to appoint him a lawyer, the
judges of the criminal district court will, and do appoint lawyers to
represent those people. (10 )
None of the authorities who were present at Oswald's arraignment for
the murder of JD Tippit, and who
testified under oath before the Warren Commission, could recall what
Oswald said during that hearing.
The judge ( David Johnston ) recalled that Oswald had made a comment,
but could not remember what that comment was. ( 11 )
Homicide Detective Elmer Boyd likewise could not remember what Oswald
said (12 )
The same kind of amnesia seems to have struck Will Fritz ( 13 )
and Detective Richard Sims couldn't remember what either the judge or
Oswald said. ( 14 )
What are the chances that every official who was called to give
testimony on what Oswald said during the Tippit
arraignment is going to have a total loss of memory ?
OSWALD & THE DALLAS BAR ASSOCIATION
District Attorney Henry Wade had been under pressure from lawyers
regarding the treatment of Oswald. One of the issues was Oswald's
repeated public claims that he was not being allowed legal
In Dallas, there were two bar associations: The Dallas Bar Association
and the Criminal Bar Association.
On saturday, the 23rd, one of the attorneys who were pressuring Wade
contacted H. Louis Nichols, President of the Dallas Bar Association to
request that he look into whether or not Oswald had legal
representation, wanted legal representation,or wanted it but had been
denied of it.
Nichols response was to call Henry Wade on the phone and make an
inquiry. ( 15 )
Nichols testified before the Warren Commission that Wade told him that
as far as he knew Oswald had not asked for any lawyer,so Nichols asked
Wade to give Oswald a message that the Dallas Bar Association would
provide him with a lawyer if he needed one. According to Nichols, Wade
said he'd pass the message onto his assistants and if Oswald ASKED for
a lawyer, Nichols offer would be given to him. ( 16 )
Of course, the reason why Wade's response was a lie is that Oswald HAD
been requesting a lawyer from the time of his arrest, including the
evening before during the "Midnight Press Conference".
After thinking it over, Nichols decided that he and a member of the
criminal bar association should visit and talk with
But according to Nichols, he couldn't get a member of the criminal bar
to go with him.
When he contacted Henry Wade, Wade told him to go visit Oswald alone
and to "tell him you will get him a lawyer".
( 17 )
To have a civil lawyer go in to question Oswald alone was a joke.
A civil lawyer would never ask the right questions:
Was he being beaten ?
was he being starved ?
Was he being deprived of sleep ?
Was he being isolated from his friends and family ?
Was he being denied counsel ?
In addition, according to his own testimony, Nichols was "connected"
to the Dallas Police and the City of Dallas.
Nichols used to work for the city attorney's office, and at the time
of Oswald's incarceration, still represented the city
credit union and had a brother on the police force, so, he had known
many of these city authorities for years. ( 18 )
Nichols then called one of those people, Capt. Glen King of the DPD to
ask if Oswald had a lawyer:
"Captain King said that as far as he knew there had been no one
representing him, and as far as he
knew, Oswald had not asked for a lawyer. He had not asked for the
right to call a lawyer, and had
not asked that a lawyer be furnished to him---" ( 19 )
Now, keep in mind that King said this on the afternoon of Saturday,
the 23rd, AFTER Oswald had made a public plea
the night before for "someone to come forward to give me legal
assistance" and AFTER he appeared in the 2:30 pm lineup viewed by
William Whaley, who testified:
"He showed no respect for the policemen, he told them what he thought
They knew what they were doing and they were trying to railroad him
and he wanted his lawyer." ( 20)
Nichols attempts to avoid becoming involved by asking Capt. King to
deliver a message to Oswald:
I said, "Well, Glen, if you know at any time that he asks for a
lawyer, or wants a lawyer, or needs a lawyer, will you tell
him that you have talked to me, as president of the bar association,
and that I have offered to get him a lawyer if he wants one." ( 21 )
Capt. King offered Nichols the chance to talk to Oswald but Nichols
"didn't know whether I wanted to or not at this point".
I didn't know to what extent I would, or wanted to, or should become
embroiled in the facts. I wanted to know whether he needed a lawyer,
and I didn't anticipate that I would be his lawyer, because I don't
practice criminal law. ( 22 )
However, Nichols was pressured into going by a law professor from
I then received a call from another lawyer who was a professor out at
S.M.U. and he wanted to know whether or not the bar association was
doing anything about getting a lawyer for Oswald. I told him what had
transpired, what I had done, and I hadn't decided what should be done
at this time, if anything by me, as president of the bar association.
He seemed to think that it would be advisable and would be helpful if
I would go up and satisfy myself personally as to
whether or not Oswald had any lawyer, wanted a lawyer or was asking
for a lawyer and hadn't been able to get one, and I told him that I
had not decided what to do, so, I sat around and decided if it had to
be done. It seemed like enough time had gone by, and enough
uncertainty among the people I talked to as to whether or not he had a
lawyer or had asked for a lawyer that I decided I might as well go up
and talk to him, so, I cleaned up and went on up to the city hall.
That was probably 5:30 or so in the afternoon. ( 23 )
The law professor, in a sense, twists his arm as if saying, "It's been
over 24 hours since his arrest and he hasn't asked for an attorney
When he arrived at the police station, he went up to the Chief's
office looking for Capt. King. The Chief saw him and
introduced him to an FBI agent, then volunteered to take him up to
Oswald's cell himself. ( 24 )
When Nichols asks Oswald if he had a lawyer, Oswald starts complaining
about his treatment:
Mr. NICHOLS. I asked him if he had a lawyer, and he said, "Well, he
really didn't know what it was all about, that he
was--had been incarcerated, and kept incommunicado, and I said, "Well,
I have come up to see whether or not you want a lawyer, because as I
understand--" I am not exactly sure what I ,said there, or whether he
said something about not knowing what happened to President Kennedy,
or I said that I understood that he was arrested for the shot that
killed the President, and I don't remember who said what after that.
This is a little bit vague. ( 25 )
Here Nichols is having an exclusive talk with the accused assassin of
President Kennedy, and he can't remember what was said in the
Mr. STERN. He, I gather, used the word "incommunicado" to describe----
Mr. NICHOLS. Yes; that was his word.
Mr. STERN. Did he elaborate on that, or any---or indicate to you that
he had not been able to see members of his family or other people of
Mr. NICHOLS. No; he did not say that he had been refused anything.
Just didn't elaborate, and I REALLY DIDN'T ASK HIM at that point. MY
INQUIRY WAS INTENTIONALLY VERY LIMITED. I merely wanted to know
whether he had a lawyer, if he had a lawyer then I had no problems. If
he asked for a lawyer and they did not offer him one, that was
contrary to what I had been told, because I had been told, as far as
the police were concerned, and Mr. Wade, as he recalled, that the man
had never asked for a lawyer. Nor had he asked to call a lawyer, for
the right to call a lawyer, so that I was interested in knowing
whether or not he had a lawyer and whether or not he had requested a
lawyer and been refused..... I didn't go into the other questions, or
whether or not he wanted to see his family and hadn't been permitted.
I really was concerned about whether or not he had a lawyer or wanted
a lawyer, or whether we had any obligations to furnish him one.
( 26 )
In addition, when Oswald asked for John Abt or a lawyer from the
American Civil Liberites Union, Nichols told him that he didn't know
Abt and he didn't know any lawyers who were members of the ACLU but
admitted under oath that "as it turned out later, a number of lawyers
I know ARE members". ( 27 )
According to Nichols' testimony, this was the exchange between himself
NICHOLS. What I am interested in knowing is right now, do you want me
or the Dallas Bar Association to try to
get you a lawyer?"
Oswald. No, not now. You might come back next week, and if I don't
get some of these other people to represent me, I might ask you to get
somebody to represent me.
Nichols. Well, now, all I want to do is to make it clear to you, and
to me, whether or not you want me or the Dallas Bar
Association to do anything about getting a lawyer right now.
Oswald. No. ( 28 )
As Nichols is leaving, Chief Curry asked him to make a statement to
"....As I left the chief asked me whether or not I wanted to make a
statement to the press, and I said, "Well,
I don't know whether I do or not. I don't know whether it is the thing
to do or not." And he said, "Well, they are going to
be right outside the door there, and if you want to say anything this
would be an opportunity to do it. Incidentally, I am
very glad you came up here. We don't want any question coming up about
us refusing to let him have a lawyer.
As far as I know, he has never asked for one. He has never asked to
call one." ( 29 )
Nichols then went before the media and stated that Oswald had refused
his offer for help:
"He appeared to me that he knew where he was and pretty much what his
rights were with regard to being represented, and he knew apparently--
at least the conversation was that if he didn't get somebody to
represent him that he wanted that he could always fall back on the bar
association, or somebody, and I had told him that I would see him next
week if he wanted me to, and I satisfied myself at least, to the
extent, that the man appeared to know what he was doing. He did not
appear to be irrational. He appeared to be calm. He turned down my
offer of help, and I felt like at that point that was all I needed to
do, and this was later Saturday afternoon, and I had no inkling that
anything else, except maybe that the next week if he didn't get a
lawyer I might hear from him, or check into it, and that's all I know
about Mr. Lee Harvey Oswald." ( 30 )
Nichols never mentioned to the press Oswald's request for John Abt or
the American Civil Liberties Union.
He never mentioned to the press Oswald's complaint of being held
CONFUSED CHIEF CURRY
Chief Curry, the only witness to the exchange between Oswald and
Nichols, could not remember which day it occurred, testifying that
Nichols' visit was on Friday ( 31 ).
Later in his testimony, Curry is told that Nichols' visit was on
Saturday, not Friday.
Mr. RANKIN. Chief Curry, you said that Mr. Nichols came that
afternoon. I call to your attention that we have information
that he came there on the Saturday afternoon.
Mr. CURRY. Perhaps it was, not the Friday. That perhaps was on
Mr. RANKIN. Yes.
Mr. DULLES. I wonder if you could just summarize briefly where we are.
(Discussion off the record.)
At that point, a "discussion off the record" is conducted and when the
discussion comes back on the record, Curry's
memory has improved. He tells the Commission that Nichols offered to
provide counsel to Oswald, but Oswald
"didn't care to at this time" but in the event he couldn't secure
counsel for himself, he would "call on you later".
Then Rep. Ford asks the stupidest question:
Representative FORD. Did Nichols and Oswald talk one to another ?
( 32 )
THE SATURDAY CALL
FBI agent James Bookhout testified that he attended two interrogation
sessions of Oswald on November 23rd
( Saturday ). One was at 10:30 am and the second was at 6:30 pm. In
the first one he attended, he said that
Fritz gave Oswald directions on how to make a collect call. In the
second Oswald thanked him for allowing him to make
Mr. BOOKHOUT. Yes, it was in this interview that he mentioned he
wanted to contact Attorney Abt [spelling] A-b-t, New York City. I
recall Captain Fritz asked him if he knew Abt personally and he said
he did not, but he explained that he knew that Abt had defended the
Smith Act cases in 1949, or 1950, and Captain Fritz asked him if he
knew how to get ahold of Mr. Abt, and he stated that he did not know
what his address was, but he was in New York.
I recall that Captain Fritz explained to him that he would allow him
to place a long distance call for Abt, and he
explained to Oswald how to ask the long distance operator to trace him
down and locate him, even though Oswald didn't even know his address
or telephone number.
Mr. STERN. Did he actually make the call in your presence?
Mr. BOOKHOUT. No; he didn't make the call in my presence. The next
interview that we had with him, I recall that Captain Fritz asked him
if he had been able to contact Mr. Abt. Oswald stated that he had made
the telephone call and thanked Captain Fritz for allowing him to make
the call, but actually he had not been able to talk to Abt. He wasn't
available. Wasn't in his office or something---- ( 33 )
Bookhout's account is supported by Forrest Sorrels. ( 34 )
So Bookhout puts the time of Oswald's use of the phone between 11:30
am and 6:30 pm on Saturday.
William Whaley testified that Oswald was still screaming for his
lawyer at the 2:30 lineup he viewed:
Mr. WHALEY. He showed no respect for the policemen, he told them what
he thought about them. They knew what they were doing and they were
trying to railroad him and he wanted his lawyer. ( 35 )
Ruth Paine testified that Oswald called her about 3:30 or 4 pm and
asked her to contact John Abt after 6 pm. ( 36 )
Marguerite Oswald testified that she didn't see her son until sometime
after 4:30 pm and that he told her that he'd
already requested to get in touch with attorney Abt. (37 )
From the time of his arrest, the longer the wait for Oswald to contact
an attorney, the less chance that that
contact was going to be made.
Try contacting a lawyer long distance in his New York office on a
Saturday evening in 1963.
And the police knew this, which is why Oswald was held incommunicado
through Friday and up until Saturday noon.
The authorities could not allow him to come in contact with either
counsel directly or family and friends, who would have sought counsel
on his behalf.
Once they were satisfied that his chances of securing counsel were
next to nil, they allowed him to make the call.
When Oswald couldn't contact Abt, because it was a collect call and
there was no one there to accept the charges, he
turned to Ruth Paine for help. Mrs. Paine testified that she called
both numbers, home and office that Oswald had
given her, but was unsuccessful in contacting Abt. When Oswald called
back at 9:30 pm, she said that she "couldn't recall" whether she
reported to him that she was unable to contact Abt.
She could only tell the Commission that "something was said but I do
not recall it specifically" ( 38 )
Mrs. Paine further told the Commission that "I am of the impression I
again tried the home telephone of John Abt on Sunday morning, but I am
not certain, and there was no answer. That I certainly
remember." ( 39 )
When the Commission inquired if Mrs. Paine had ever attempted to
report to Oswald that she was unable to contact attorney Abt, she was
forced to admit that she "made no effort" to call the police station
and speak with him. ( 40 )
The question remains: did Ruth Paine actually TRY to make those calls
on Oswald's behalf ?
And if she did, why didn't she keep Oswald informed of her progress ?
John Abt told the Warren Commission that he and his wife had gone off
for a weekend at their cabin in Connecticut
and on Saturday, the press "began to call me up there" and that "these
calls kept on all day Saturday and again Sunday morning". ( 41 )
How could all of these reporters reach Abt, but Mrs. Paine could not ?
Even if she could not contact Abt, why didn't Mrs. Paine, as a member
of the Civil Liberties Union, contact that
organization for help or at least contact her husband to do so ?
Marguerite Oswald testified that on Friday, the 22nd, she was troubled
by the attitude of Ruth Paine towards her son.
Although Mrs. Paine said that she could get Lee a lawyer, she was
doing nothing about it:
"I am worried because Lee hasn't had an attorney. And I am talking
about that, and Mrs. Paine said, "Oh,
don't worry about that. I am a member of the Civil Liberties Union,
and Lee will have an attorney, I can assure you."
I said to myself 'but when ?' Of course, I didn't want to push her,
argue with her. But the point was if she was a
member of the Union, why didn't she see Lee had an attorney then ? So
I wasn't too happy about that. ( 42 )
The testimony presented in this narrative has shown that Lee Harvey
Oswald requested a lawyer from the time of his arrest until late
Saturday afternoon, when he contacted Ruth Paine for help. The
testimony has also shown that Oswald was held incommunicado until
after noon on Saturday. During that period between his arrest and the
visit of his family, Oswald repeatedly pled for legal assistance and
when the ACLU responded to that plea, they were lied to by the Dallas
Police and chose to believe that lie.
The Dallas Police were successful in keeping Oswald "incommunicado"
until Saturday afternoon, at a time when the likelihood of Oswald's
securing counsel before Monday had diminished. It was at this time
that the Dallas Police allowed his family to see him and allowed him
to make his phone call.
The importance of the timing of Oswald's access to a telephone can be
summed up in this way:
Attorney Abt testified that he and his wife didn't leave for the cabin
until Friday evening. ( 43 )
Had Oswald been allowed to make that phone call at the time of his
arrest, he would have made contact with Abt before they left for
The authorities were eager to put the "denial of counsel" issue to
rest, so they agreed to allow a civil lawyer with connections to the
city and its police department and the president of the Dallas Bar
Association, to "question" Oswald about the denial of counsel issue in
After that interview, the lawyer faced the press and declared that
Oswald had refused his offer for help.
It's difficult to imagine, given the press coverage of that weekend,
that Nichols never saw on TV, never heard on radio or never read in
the newspapers, Oswald's pleas for assistance and instead was forced
to rely on "what I had been told".
The purpose of his "intentionally very limited" interview of Oswald
seems to have been to take the pressure off of the authorities in
Dallas rather than to insure that Oswald had counsel. By his own
admission, his "concern" was not for how Oswald was being treated.
When Oswald complained, Nichols admitted that he "didn't ask any
His testimony that Oswald told him to "come back next week" defies
logic and common sense and is contrary to documented video showing
Oswald repeatedly asking for "someone to come forward".
Not John Abt........someone..............ANYONE.
I find it hard to believe that Nichols could have been impartial and
not have mentioned that Oswald HAD requested the name of John Abt or
the American Civil Liberties Union. I also find it hard to believe
that an impartial party would not mention Oswald's complaint about his
In the end, Nichols served the interests of the Dallas authorities
better than he served the interests of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Perhaps that was the plan all along.
The proof of Lee Harvey Oswald's innocence is documented in the way in
which the Dallas Police conducted the police lineups, tampered with
the evidence and held him incommunicado for over 24 hours, effectively
delaying his contacting counsel.
When you have a guilty suspect, you don't need to do those things
because the evidence will always stand on its own merit.
The fact that they DID do those things is a testament, IMO to his
OSWALD REQUESTS A LAWYER DURING THE FIRST INTERROGATION SESSION
1. ( 7 H 123, 7 H 165 )
2. ( 4 H 214-215 )
THE ACLU TO THE RESCUE....OR MAYBE NOT
3. ( 4 H 214-215 )
4. ( 7 H 323 )
5. ( 7 H 52 )
6. ( 7 H 61 )
7. ( 7 H 324 )
9. ( 7 H 325 )
BEFORE THE JUDGE
10. ( 7 H 331 )
11. ( 15 H 507 )
12. ( 7 H 130 )
13. ( 4 H 217 )
14. ( 7 H 171 )
OSWALD & THE DALLAS BAR ASSOCIATION
15. ( 7 H 327 )
16. ( ibid. )
17. ( 5 H 240 )
18. ( 7 H 327 )
19. ( ibid. )
20. ( 2 H 261 )
21. ( 7 H 327 )
22. ( 7 H 331 )
23. ( 7 H 327-328 )
24. ( 7 H 328 )
25. ( ibid. )
26. ( 7 H 330 )
27. ( 7 H 329 )
28. ( ibid. )
29. ( ibid. )
30. ( 7 H 330 )
CONFUSED CHIEF CURRY
31. ( 4 H 155 )
32. ( 4 H 158 )
THE SATURDAY CALL
33. ( 7 H 314 )
34. ( 7 H 356 )
35. ( 2 H 261 )
36. ( 3 H 85 )
37. ( 1 H 149 )
38. ( 3 H 88 )
39. ( 3 H 89 )
40. ( ibid. )
41. ( 10 H 116 )
42. ( 1 H 146 )
43. ( 10 H 116 )