New Mistrial Bid Over Manson’s Antics is Denied
Wednesday, August 5th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 5 – Another motion for a mistrial in the Tate-LaBianca murder case was denied in Los Angeles Superior Court today.
The motion, by chief defense counsel Paul Fitzgerald, was based on the actions of cult leader Charles Manson in court Tuesday.
Manson, while all attorneys’ backs were turned, showed the jury a newspaper headline indicating that the President of the United States thought he was guilty.
Fitzgerald asked a mistrial on behalf of his client, Patricia Krenwinkel, and was joined by attorneys for the two other girl defendants, Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten.
The former public defender claimed the jury was selected because of its “virginal character” regarding publicity.
“Now they’ve lost that virginal quality and unconsciously the President’s remarks and subsequent publicity cannot help but influence their minds,” Fitzgerald said.
Irving Kanarek, representing Manson, also asked for a mistrial for his client but asked it on “interference by a public official,” thereby making the trial unfair. Kanarek also asked for an evidentiary hearing in which the President would be asked to come to court and explain “if he got together with Dist. Atty. Evelle Younger…to deliberately cause a mistrial so Mr. Watson (Charles Watson, fighting extradition in Texas) could be brought back to California.”
Chief prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Aaron Stovitz, objected to the mistrial motion, claiming that Manson displayed the newspaper intentionally and that the three girls approved of his conduct.
In denying all motions, Judge Charles Older said it was “time to place this thing in proper perspective.”
“The problem is what effect this has on the jury’s ability to reach a fair and impartial verdict. I am satisfied that they are able to do this,” he said.
Another motion denied by Judge Older was a request for continuance by Daye Shinn, Miss Atkin’s attorney, who had spent the night in jail on a contempt charge.
Shinn contended that since he had been in custody and had slept only a half-hour, he could not continue with the trail because he was “dizzy”‘ and had a “headache and a backache.”
As the jury filed into the room after the motions had been dispensed with, the three girl defendants stood up and chanted in unison:
“Your honor, if the President thinks we’re guilty, why go on with the trial?”
Judge Older, expressionless, said firmly, “Sit down, ladies.”
Shinn, looking worn and drawn, sat quietly at the counsel table and spoke only briefly, telling Judge Older that he could not argue in the motion for a mistrial because he was not capable, after his night in jail. The judge had held Shinn responsible for bringing in the newspaper which Manson had held up to the jury.
Unprecedented precautions had been taken by the court Tuesday, even to painting the windows of the bus in which the jury rides and cutting off all communications with them, to prevent the panel from knowing about the President’s statements in Denver Monday.
Although the day had been calendared for continued cross-examination of the chief prosecution witness, Linda Kasabian, the girl was on the stand for only a half-hour, the remainder of the time was spent in legal, haggling over the President’s statements about the case.
Attorney Shinn, was cited for direct contempt by Judge Older for bringing the newspaper to the counsel table after being directly ordered to keep papers away.
The action, Judge Older said, was “willful and deliberate…and done with full knowledge.” He ordered Shinn to jail for three nights, beginning at the conclusion of court Tuesday. He will be released each day at 7 a.m.
Shinn’s request for a day’s delay was denied, as was a request for an hour’s delay “to take care of my car.”
“Give your keys to someone,” the judge snapped back, ordering the bailiff to take the Korean-born attorney into custody.
Shinn is the third defense attorney to spend time in jail. Kanarek was cited for interrupting a witness, and Ronald Hughes, representing Miss Van Houten, was jailed for using an obscenity, during a bench conference. Both spent one night in jail.
Shinn, who admitted bringing the papers to the counsel table, claimed he didn’t intend to violate the court’s order and didn’t know the front pages of the papers were in with the sports, section he was reading, during the noon recess.
His statements cleared Kanarek, whom the judge had initially cited for “direct contempt,” since the newspaper was taken from under one of Kanarek’s law books by Manson.
Manson’s actions brought courtroom action to an abrupt hall, and a gasp from at least one of the jurors.
While all attorneys were at a bench conference with Judge Older, their backs turned to Manson, he reached under one of his attorney’s many law books and pulled out the newspaper. Before he could be stopped by a bailiff, he held the three-inch headline up to the jury.
Mrs. Thelma McKenzie, sitting in the front row of the jury box, was seen to gasp, and Linda Kasabian, sitting next to her attorney waiting to resume the witness stand was heard to say: “Hey, look what Charlie’s doing?”
Chief prosecutor Stovitz saw the newspaper and shouted, “Your Honor,” just as the bailiff grabbed the paper from Manson’s hands.
The courtroom burst into chaos as the judge immediately called a recess and cleared the jury from the room.
When court resumed, the jurors were brought one at a time into the courtroom, sworn to tell the truth, then asked if they saw the “incident involving Mr. Manson just before recess.”
Seven of the 12 regular jurors and the six alternates admitted seeing and reading the headlines that Manson held up, but all maintained they could still judge the case “on the evidence.”
By MARY NEISWENDER