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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Clay Shaw's Lawyers Faced an Unfair Fight!

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Irvin Dymond wrote an undated memo about the difficulties in the Clay Shaw case. There was no discovery in Louisiana courts and so they had to investigate any rumor or story that possibly implicated their client. Here is his memo:

I also want to add a letter that Edward Wegmann, one of Shaw's other attorneys, wrote to Elmer Gertz, who was representing Gordon Novel in his libel lawsuit against Playboy Magazine and Jim Garrison. It was written a few weeks before the Shaw trial.

His second page is most telling - "We anticipate that we will be confronted with one or more surprise witnesses about whom we know nothing and about whom we will know nothing until they walk into the courtroom, take the witness stand, swear to tell the truth and then proceed to perjure themselves with a story that can only be fictional if it involves the client ... The guilty man is easy to defend because you know what he did. We will not know what Clay did until we hear the witnesses."

“It is an elementary observation that surprise has no legitimate place in a criminal proceeding, whether resorted to by the defense or the state. The promulgation of a comprehensive, systematic set of discovery rules will do much to take the gamesmanship out of the criminal process. Louisiana should take the step that will lead to a fairer trial for an accused and at the same time improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the courts. Nothing can possibly be gained by ignoring the question while further random requirements are imposed by the courts.”


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