Lawyer Out In Tate Trial
Saturday, July 18th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 18 – The youngest of the three female defendants at the Tate murder trial fired her “square” lawyer yesterday and replaced him with an attorney who has just been admitted to the bar and has never handled a case in court.
Leslie Van Houten, 19, was reluctantly granted a change of lawyers after a month of jury selection by Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older after she insisted that veteran attorney Ira Reiner was not representing her as she wished.
Reiner had insisted on questioning and dismissing a number of prospective jurors because he felt they were prejudiced in the case. Miss Van Houten had wanted him to follow the lead of hippie cult guru Charles Manson who ordered his lawyer to accept jurors without challenge on grounds the makeup of the panel made no difference.
Reiner was replaced by Ronald Hughes who, although 35, has just taken up the law as a profession. A burly man with a flowing red beard, Hughes has been close to the “Manson family” since shortly after their indictment and served briefly as Manson’s lawyer during pretrial hearings.
The switch in lawyers was approved at a session in Older’s chambers.
Selection of six alternates to supplement the 12 permanent jurors already seated proceeded yesterday at a tedious pace. It was expected it might take part if not all of next week before the alternates are sworn in and the taking of testimony begins.