• Author Denies Manson Was Target of Skit 

Author Denies Manson Was Target of Skit 

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18 – Charles Manson wasn’t lampooned in a skit played before judges and lawyers, the skit’s author said Tuesday. The real targets of the satire were members of the legal profession, he added.

And, according to others who witnessed the production, it could not interfere with the fairness of Manson’s pending trial in connection with the Tate and LaBlanca murders.

It was played at the 17th annual Criminal Courts Bar Assn. installation Saturday night. A friend of Manson’s claimed the skit — which poked fun at Manson’s dealings with attorneys — hurt the defendant’s chances of getting a fair trial.

Manson is accused of masterminding seven murders committed by a hippie band called the Manson Family. The bar group skit was called “One Manson’s Family.”

Although several lawyers and judges who attended the affair denied the skit could hurt Manson’s legal chances, some questioned the good taste of one line: “The Family which slays together, stays together.”

However, Presiding Superior Judge Joseph A. Wapner pointed out that the skit actually depicted Manson as a hero, and lawyers as the villains.

Judge Wapner said he thought so highly of the skit that he plans to borrow portions of it for a speech dealing with the professional responsibility of lawyers which he is giving Thursday to members of the Federal Bar Assn.

The parody on Manson depicted three attorneys who are willing to defend him for the publicity value, with some hope that they later can sell the accused slayer’s story for their fee.

“It shows that some lawyers are willing to do almost anything for publicity,” said Judge Wapner, “and I tend to incorporate some lines from the skit in my speech.”

The criticism of the show arose in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Robert S. Levy, who described himself as a Hollywood producer, business associate and friend of Manson.

In his petition, which was denied late Tuesday by the Appellate Court’s 5th Division, Levy sought an order which would have forced the Superior Court to permit him to visit Manson.

Manson’s visitation privileges recently were suspended because of an infraction of county jail regulations.

Levy also alleged that the skit, one of several which comprised the “gridiron” type show written by Marvin L. Part, ridiculed Manson and prejudiced his right to a fair trial.

For several years, Part, a member of the Criminal Courts Bar Assn. and until recently the attorney for one of Manson’s co-defendants, Leslie Van Houten, has been the entertainment director for the organization’s annual dinner-dance.

His shows usually lampoon members of the legal profession, including judges and public officials. This year’s skit was no different.

Manson, however, was not one of his targets, according to Part.

He said he felt he did manage to poke fun at Dist. Atty. Evelle J. Younger, retired Superior Judge Herbert V. Walker, Superior Judges George M. Dell and Maurice T. leader and attorney Grant Cooper, among others.

On reflection, said Superior Judge Raymond Choate, who was cast as one of the unscrupulous lawyers, it might have been better if the “slays together” line had been deleted. But he added:

“Our intent was to kid members of our own legal profession for their propensity to seek glory by waiving their fees.

“I don’t think there was anything wrong with the show, particularly since it was not done for the general public, but for a group of lawyers, their wives and close friends.”

All of those queried by The Times noted that the show was meant to be seen only by a select, sophisticated gathering and was not intended for the general public.

Attorney Richard W. Walton said he saw nothing in the skit on Manson which would have prejudiced Manson’s right to a fair trial.

The responsibility for any publicity which has been given to the show, said Walton, now must be attached to Levy — “the very person who purports to condemn and criticize it.”

Another criminal defense attorney, Robert Courtney, who was a member of the cast but not
in the Manson skit, said he was appalled at Levy’s accusation.

He said the members of the Criminal Court Bar Assn. are the very ones who “day-in and day-out most zealously protect the rights of those accused of crimes.”

Courtney said neither he nor the other lawyers or judges participating in the show would jeopardize the rights of any defendant.

Asst. Dist. Atty. Joseph. P. Busch Jr., another member of the cast, said the purpose of the skit was not to comment on the guilt or innocence of anyone, but to “dig” the members of its own profession.

Levy also was critical of the fact that Superior Judge William B. Keene, who is scheduled to hear Manson’s trial on March 30, was in the audience and appeared to enjoy the skit.

Judge Keene declined to comment on the matter except to point out that most of the criminal court judges in the county annually attend the dinner.


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