Manson Denied Mistrial Due to Nixon’s Remarks
Tuesday, August 4th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 4 – Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older yesterday refused to grant a mistrial for Charles Manson and three followers after defense attorneys complained of President Richard Nixon’s remarks about the case.
Nixon, during a speech before law enforcement officials in Denver, Colo., said Manson is “guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.”
The President’s press secretary later said Nixon had meant to use the word “allegedly.”
Irving A. Kanarek, Manson’s attorney, requested the mistrial after showing Judge Older a wire service news report of the President’s statement.
Judge Older, however, declined to grant the mistrial, saying news reports sometimes were garbled and he was not sure the President actually made the remarks attributed to him.
The jurist also noted the defense concern over the story may be premature.
The motion for a mistrial and its denial were made at the judge’s bench outside the ears of the jury.
Although goings on at the bench and in the judge’s chambers are kept secret by court order, City News Service learned of the action.
Judge Older also read the copy of the news story into the record of the bench proceedings, a source reported.
The defense, meanwhile, asked the judge that the story not reach the eyes of the seven-man, five-woman jury trying Manson and three female followers for the murders last summer of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
The 35-year-old cult chieftain and his three “girls” were “shocked” when they learned of the President’s remarks, said Paul J. Fitzgerald, attorney for 22-year-old co-defendant Patricia Krenwinkel.
Fitzgerald, when told the President’s secretary said Nixon intended to use the word “allegedly,” replied:
“The President always strikes me as a man in control of his faculties.”
Fitzgerald earlier had characterized the President’s remarks, which included an indictment of the news media for turning Manson into a glamorous figure, as “incredible and un-American.”
Kanarek, meanwhile, said it seemed to him that “any public official — the President of the United States or a city councilman — is sworn to uphold the constitution.”
And, he pointed out, each man has the constitutional right to a fair trial.
Ronald Hughes, attorney for 19-year-old co-defendant Leslie Van Houten, said when the President “finds it necessary to comment on the guilt or innocence of a defendant, it indicates that defendant is past the point of getting a fair trial.”