Manson Releases Attorney
Friday, March 20th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 20 – Charles Manson, chief defendant in the Tate murder case, angrily threw the U.S. Constitution into a waste paper basket in court Thursday, fired the attorney who had asked that he be given a psychiatric examination, and took on as his new counsel a young lawyer who had never tried a case before.
Superior Court Judge William B. Keene set April 20 as the date for start of the trial of the 36-year-old accused hippie cult leader and three girls in the “Manson family.”
The three co-defendants, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, were in the courtroom together with Manson for the first time but they spoke only a few words while Manson ranted at the judge.
Ronald Hughes, 35, a former law clerk in the public defenders office, who passed the California bar examination only last year, was picked by Manson to represent him. He is a plump man with a blondish beard and mustache and a manner of walking briskly back and forth across the court.
Charles Hollopeter, who came into court today as Manson’s attorney and was discharged in the course of the proceedings, opened the day’s session by introducing a motion to have Manson undergo an examination by a psychiatrist. Judge Keene approved the motion.
The action set Manson off and he announced he wanted to change attorneys and had a motion already prepared to that effect.
Judge Keene admonished Manson that by changing attorneys he still would not be permitted to represent himself or to speak in court.
“The reason I’ve never been able to represent myself is you and the other two judges,” Manson said. “Look at me. I’m a person.”
“Let me make it plain to you, Mr. Manson, that this court will be run by me and not by you,” Keene said. “This is not the time for a speech.”
Manson picked up a paperback copy of the U.S. Constitution and that of California and threw it into a metal wastepaper basket in front of the judge.
“I was going to throw it at you, but I was afraid I might hit you,” Manson said.