The Sorry State of Jim Garrison's Files
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
Here's a picture of Jim Garrison packing up his office from the March 30, 1974 issue of the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
You can see the boxes of documents in the picture. Now, the Democratic Primary for District Attorney was held on November 9, 1973, which Garrison lost to Harry Connick. This would have given Garrison just under five months to remove all his files to safety, and to even publish grand jury testimony, had he so wanted.
Instead, he decided to take many of his files home, and then he complained years later that some of them were stolen: (page 310 in On The Trail of The Assassins)
This blog post has further details on the horrible state of Garrison's files.
Harold Weisberg did not believe that the files were stolen - he felt they were sanitized.
In fact, Garrison had even more time to get his files in shape.
When Jim Garrison was questioned at the Christenberry hearings in January 1971 he said that his JFK investigation was over.
That admission made the newspapers:
New Orleans States-Item, January 26, 1971
He also told the court that he would be writing a report about the assassination for the citizens of New Orleans:
The report never materialized.
From the time his JFK investigation was over, Garrison had over three years to put his papers in shape. He had many options on what he could have done - donate them to a university, publish them in a multi-volume set, or give them to a private organization for public access.
As Tom Bethell asked in 1969, where are Garrison's 26 volumes of evidence? (Entry for February 8, 1968)
"1969: P.S. I never saw a transcript of Marina Oswald's testimony. Of course, Grand Jury testimony is technically secret, but the fact that Garrison largely conducted his investigation in the secrecy of the Grand Jury raises some questions about the validity of his criticisms of the Warren Commission. This would be analogous to the Warren Commission having heard testimony in closed session. It seems that Marina's testimony before the Warren Commission will go down to posterity -- albeit under a great deal of criticism -- but her testimony before the "Garrison Commission" will not even see the light of day. It will be analogous to one of the Commission's classified documents, which Garrison got so much mileage out of. As far as I know, nobody has ever raised this criticism of Garrison. When is he going to publish his 26 volumes?
Some conspiracy theorists blame Harry Connick for the poor condition of Jim Garrison's files. James DiEugenio writes in his book Destiny Betrayed: (page 320):
"During the 1969 race, when asked about Garrison's inquiry into Kennedy's assassination, the challenger [Connick] replied that although he tended to think there was little value to Garrison's assassination probe, he would evaluate each case on its individual merits. There is no evidence that this happened. In fact, thanks to a hearing in New Orleans by the ARRB, we know what one of Connick's prime objectives was once he got into office. It was to literally set fire to the evidence Garrison left behind. Therefore, the world would never see the primary documents of the only criminal prosecution in the JFK case."
DiEugenio's source is, of course, Probe Magazine (Volume 2, No. 5)
Connick did ask a staffer to destroy Garrison's grand jury records which he believed would never have to made public. Fortunately, the staffer kept the files in his home for twenty years. The only evidence that Connick destroyed files is one comment from an article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune of July 11, 1995:
You can read Harry Connick's testimony before the ARRB here.
There are eleven boxes of Garrison investigative files that Harry Connick donated to NARA (not including the grand jury testimony).
There are three boxes of Garrison investigative files donated by Harry Connick to the New Orleans Public Library.
It's really unclear if anything of value was thrown out. Any new office holder has to clean up the office. Perhaps Connick felt that material left behind by Garrison wasn't important. But, even if some stuff was tossed, whose fault is that?
Jim Garrison had ample time to secure his documents or even publish them. His lackadaisical attitude towards proper record-keeping and document handling is the cause of the incomplete record of his investigation.
The blame rests solely with Jim Garrison.