Did the CIA Pay the Lawyers of Garrison's Targets? (Part Two)
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
We have already done one blog post on this topic, and we showed that Gordon Novel didn't like to pay his legal bills from Elmer Gertz.
Here is a letter that was sent to Gordon Novel in June 1969 about some documents he wanted from Jerry Weiner, his lawyer in Ohio. Note that on page two, there are threats to countersue for legal fees:
It seems there was a "great dispute" about fees. Gee, why didn't the CIA pay those fees?
Reporters Hoke May and Ross Yockey of the New Orleans States-Item told Garrison that Gordon Novel's lawyers were being paid by the CIA. Here is an excerpt from Richard Billings' journal from May 22-23, 1967.
"At this point, Hoke May came to Garrison's office; he had a report about Jerry Weiner, the Novel lawyer in Columbus, who, according to Hoke May, has admitted being paid by the CIA. This makes two lawyers who told reporters they were on the CIA payroll, the other being Plotkin, who is Novel's lawyer in New Orleans, who told States-Item reporter Ross Yockey of his CIA retainer."
Now, did Steven Plotkin really tell Ross Yockey that he was being paid by the CIA? Here is an affidavit of Ross Yockey from the Gordon Novel libel proceedings against Playboy Magazine and Jim Garrison:
It seems to be that Ross Yockey did not know how to interpret a laugh - for him it was "sufficient confirmation" that Plotkin was being paid by the CIA.
A few days later, Garrison received this memo:
Burton Klein was Al Beauboeuf's lawyer. There is no underlying evidence to support any of the allegations about the payment of funds to Klein or Plotkin made in this memo.
It is true that David Baldwin did work for the CIA in the early 1950s. He was stationed in India, but, according to Don Carpenter, author of Man of a Million Fragments, "he had been fired by the CIA for becoming romantically, or at least physically, involved with a woman, Lillian Baxter; during the relationship, certain classified information was divulged." (page 103)
Garrison also scribbled a note about Plotkin at the end of a memo about Betty Parrott, a local informant:
Garrison's notations were made long after the Parrott memo was written.
"Re: Attorney STEVE PLOTKIN:
See statement of DA assistant WILLIAM MARTIN re confidential source informing him that CIA's New Orleans "pay-master" for attorneys was attorney STEPHEN LEMANN (of major New Orleans firm of MONROE + LEMANN) and that LEMANN had retained PLOTKIN to represent individuals, connected with the C.I.A., under inquiry by the New Orleans D.A.'s office.
Note that in DA's office interview of DALZELL on July 11, 1967, PLOTKIN appears with DALZELL as his attorney.
Note PLOTKIN's representation of GORDON NOVEL (mentioned in DALZELL's statement on "association with Cuban organization") in N.O.D.A.'s office unsuccessful attempt to extradite him from Ohio to testify before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury.
Note PLOTKIN's refusal, in response to press request, to confirm or deny that he was being paid to represent NOVEL by the C.I.A."
Well, here is the New Orleans Times-Picayune of May 12, 1967 with some denials:
Garrison brought Steven Plotkin before the grand jury. He refused to answer questions about his client Gordon Novel, but in his second appearance, he agreed to answer:
Of course, conspiracy theorists have also chimed in that the CIA paid legal fees for people caught up in Garrison's probe. James DiEugenio writes in Destiny Betrayed (page 233) that:
"How could the out of work, itinerant Novel afford to finance an expensive civil suit against both a large company like Playboy, and a veteran attorney like Garrison? Especially since the suit would drag on for over three years, until 1971. David Krupp. attorney for Playboy, twice posed this question to Novel in the process of legal proceedings. The second time, the plaintiff answered that his attorneys "refused fees for this matter, but it is my understanding that they were clandestinely renumerated [sic] by a party or parties unknown to me..."
Here is exactly what Gordon Novel said in his answer to an interrogatory:
Not a massive amount of money - and certainly no indication that it was the CIA. Note that Gordon Novel was a massive braggart who was prone to inflate his involvement in almost anything. Saying he was "clandestinely remunerated" sounds better than "I never paid my lawyers."
DiEugenio doesn't mention this clarification from Novel's lawyer, Elmer Gertz:
As we know from above, Weiner was ready to counter-sue for his fees; Plotkin said he was never paid; and as shown in my earlier blog post, Elmer Gertz was always after Novel for payment.
And the answer to DiEugenio's question about how Novel could afford to finance such an expensive civil suit? Well, Gertz was to be paid a percentage of the recoveries, if any:
By the way, back in 1967, Novel was hounding reporters. Here is an excerpt from a deposition of Rosemary James, then a reporter for the New Orleans States-Item, from the libel proceedings:
And, here is what Rosemary James said about Novel's credibility: