LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1970
THE COURT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is a rather unusual Saturday session which we thought would be in the interest of justice. There is just the one matter that is involved. This is Superior Court Indictment No. A-253156, People against Charles Watson and others.
Is that your true name, sir, Charles Watson?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, it is, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you have a lawyer at this time, Mr. Watson?
THE DEFENDANT: Karl Ransom.
THE COURT: Mr. Ransom, are you representing Mr. Watson?
MR. RANSOM: Karl Ransom and Gilbert Caton for Mr. Watson, your Honor.
THE COURT: I would like to inform the defendant of his Constitutional rights, notwithstanding the fact that he is presently represented by counsel.
Mr. Watson, you are entitled to a speedy and public trial. You are entitled to a trial before a jury. You have the right to be confronted by all of the witnesses testifying against you and you have the right to cross examine those witness.
You have the right to the compulsory processes of the Court to obtain witnesses in your favor.
You have the right to have the assistance of counsel of your own choosing for your defense at all stages of the proceedings.
You have the right to testify on your own behalf but you cannot be compelled to be a witness against yourself.
In all cases except capitol cases you are entitled to be admitted to liberty at reasonable bail. However, when a defendant is charged with an offense punishable by death, he cannot be admitted to bail if proof of his guilt is evident or the presumption thereof is great. Do you have any questions at this time about your Constitutional rights, Mr. Watson?
THE DEFENDANT: No.
THE COURT: I wonder if the District Attorney has a copy of the indictment and the grand jury transcript to give to counsel.
MR. KATZ: Yes, I do, your Honor. I might state by way of preface, your Honor, that Mr. Ransom informed me that he has had for some time a copy of the indictment. However, I will be happy to furnish him with an additional copy of the indictment which consists of some nine pages including the list of witnesses who testified at the grand jury proceedings on December 5th and December 8th of 1969. I also have, your Honor, which I will turn over to Mr. Ransom and Mr. Caton, two volumes pertaining to the testimony before the grand jury of December 5th and December 8th, 1969, which comprises some three hundred eighty-four pages in total. May the record reflect at this time I am now handing a copy of the aforementioned indictment and two copies of the grand jury indictment.
THE COURT: The record will reflect such items are now being handed to Mr. Ransom. Does the defendant wish to be arraigned at this time or would he desire continuance in that respect, Mr. Ransom.
MR. RANSOM: Your Honor, if I may have a moment of the Court’s time, your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes.
MR. RANSOM: I discussed this matter with him and with the District Attorney and with Mr. Watson. This case as the Court knows has some unusual aspects. It is agreeable with the District Attorney and it is agreeable with Mr. Watson and I hope it should be agreeable with the Court if I appear especially at this time until I have finalized my arrangements one way or the other to represent Mr. Watson. If that is agreeable, your Honor, Mr. Watson requests and I respect the matter be continued two weeks for further proceedings.
THE COURT: I have no objection to continuing the matter for further proceedings for two weeks. However, the special appearance is problem because customarily we don't give the grand jury transcript to an individual unless he represents the defendant. Frankly, I don't know what a special appearance is right now under these circumstances, Mr. Ransom.
MR. RANSOM: Well, as I say, the Court knows the history of this case. It is an unusual case. Mr. Watson has been in Texas. I have been contacted -- been in contact with Mr. Boyd, Bill Boyd of McKinney, Texas, who has been his lawyer. Mr. Boyd requested of me that I appear in this matter. I didn't anticipate this was going to happen this fast. I didn't expect to be here on Saturday morning. Otherwise I would now be in Dallas. Mr. Boyd requested I come and see him and talk to Mr. Watson's family.
THE COURT: About the only issue is whether or not the sole remaining copy of the grand jury transcript is to be turned over to you and I don't want to do that on the basis of the special appearance.
MR. RANSOM: I cannot intelligently speak about a case unless I have some of the facts or some information about it.
THE COURT: It happens in every other case we have in this court.
MR. RANSOM: As an officer of the court, I would represent to the Court I would take the grand jury transcript into my possession and I will return it forthwith, immediately, and intact in the event I should not represent Mr. Watson.
THE COURT: That is not agreeable, Mr. Ransom. I’m sorry. I don't have any reason to doubt your word, but I don't see any reason to make an exception in this case. I don't do it in other cases and I don't know why I should do it in this one. If you lose the transcript all we have at the very most is a civil suit. I doubt very much that that would be appropriate. I would have to order the reporter to prepare a brand new one if for some reason you are not in the case.
MR. RANSOM: May I make this request. At my own expense that I be permitted to come to the District Attorney's Office and have the transcript photo-copied.
THE COURT: Certainly that is agreeable to me. All that I am saying is until there is a general appearance made on behalf of Mr. Watson, I am not going to authorize delivery of the sole remaining copy of the transcript. That is the copy the was prepared for the use of the defendant. I am not going to have that surrendered to you or anyone else until there is a general appearance. Certainly you can have it photostatted at your own expense. There is no objection to that whatever.
What date would you like to have the matter go over?
MR. RANSOM: I would suggest, your Honor --
THE COURT: Believe me, it will not be a Saturday.
MR. RANSOM: Would the 28th be an agreeable date?
THE COURT: I am sure it will be. September 28th. Let’s set it at 9:00 o’clock. If we have to adjust it later on for security or other reasons, we can always do that informally to either the 11:00 o’clock calendar or even the afternoon. Let’s set it then for 9:00 o’clock, September 28th. That is personally agreeable to you, Mr. Watson?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: I do wish to inform you, sir, you have a right to be brought to trial within sixty days after the indictment is found. That is what the language of the statute is. As that has been construed, that means sixty days after your actual arrest or surrender in open court on the indictment. So my construction of that is you have a right to be brought to trial within sixty days of today. Any continuances that are obtained on your behalf, of course, would not be computed as part of the sixty days. I don’t think time is going to be an issue in this case frankly, but I simply wish to state to the defendant what his rights are. Very well. That is agreeable. September 28th at 9:00 o’clock in this court.
Thank you very much, gentlemen.
We are in recess. The defendant is remanded into the custody of the Sheriff.
THE COURT: I have been informed counsel, at least special counsel, has an additional item he wishes to bring to the Court’s attention so we’ll resume.
MR. RANSOM: It is a request of the defendant which I join in, your Honor, that no one be permitted in the county jail to visit Mr. Watson without prior written approval of Bill Boyd, myself, or Mr. Caton. I would request the Court make such an order to the Sheriff.
THE COURT: Mr. Watson, at this stage until any other arrangements are made, it is your understanding that you are being represented by Mr. Ransom and his associate, Mr. Caton, and by Mr. Boyd, a member of the Texas Bar, is that correct?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: So ordered. I think that is a reasonable order. I will state specifically rather than so order, the Sheriff is directed not to permit any visitors to this defendant, Mr. Watson, except with the written consent of either Mr. Ransom, Mr. Caton, or Mr. Boyd, his counsel of record.
MR. RANSOM: Thank you, your Honor.
MR. KATZ: Thank you, your Honor.