Manson Demands Nomadic Types on Panel of Jurors
Friday, June 26th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jun. 26 – A routine challenge of the petit jury system — the grounds that there are no poorly educated nomadic types among prospective jurors — was made today at the Tate-LaBianca mass murder trial neared the end of its second week.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older delayed his decision on the motion by Irving Kanarek, attorney for cult leader Charles Manson. Kanarek, who brought County Jury Commissioner William Goodwin to the witness stand, contended the jury was hand-picked and contained none of Manson’s peers.
Kanarek claimed it would be “most significant” to have someone on the panel with Manson’s philosophy of life.
The judge refused to allow Manson to take the stand but did allow two pages of handwritten questions by Manson to be introduced in evidence. The questions were those that Manson wished to ask prospective jurors in person. His request had been denied by Judge Older.
After the brief challenge, the slow process of questioning jurors continued.
A judicial iron curtain Thursday fell over the trial of the cult leader and three of his girl followers, who are charged with the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
In unprecedented action, Judge Older ordered in-chamber sessions — part at the official trial record previously available to the press and public — kept secret.
Press representatives were unable to purchase trial transcripts and attorneys were ordered not to allow members of the news media to see the official court record.
One attorney, Paul Fitzgerald, was cited for contempt by the judge for telling newsmen what transpired in the chamber session Wednesday in which Manson ordered his lawyer to remain silent during the trial and offer no defense.
The judge vacated the contempt charge after the attorney said his actions were not in contempt since the order had not been in effect at the time he talked to newsmen.
Attorneys also were ordered by Judge Older to not discuss anything with newsmen — not only what happened in chambers but what occurred in open court.
The judge, who has been sitting on the bench for only the past 2 1/2 years, was immediately challenged by some attorneys, who called his action unconstitutional.
Judge Older’s order is the latest of several controversial rulings that have raised questions as to a possible reversal upon appeal once the trial ends after the jury has reached a verdict.
Earlier, Older ordered the defendants out of court despite the fact that both prosecution and defense attorneys objected.
At another point, Judge Older refused to hear arguments from one attorney, and ordered him to sit down.
By MARY NEISWENDER