Nixon Censure Denied by Judge in Manson Trial
Tuesday, August 4th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 4 – A barrage of legal motions, including one to censure the President of the United States, threw the murder trial of cultist Charles Manson and three of his followers into an uproar today.
The motions, all eventually denied by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older, were ASED on President Richard Nixon’s statements in Denver Monday that Manson was “guilty.”
Defense counsel Ronald Hughes moved to censure President Nixon for his statements. He said if the court felt it could not censure Nixon, “he should be cited before the State Bar.”
Another motion called for dismissal of all charges against Manson and the other three defendants in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten. Still another asked declaration of a mistrial based on Nixon’s statements. A final motion was a request to allow Manson to act as his own attorney.
Newspaper headlining Nixon’s statements were brought into court today and introduced by defense chief counsel Paul Fitzgerald, who also read the entire Nixon statement into the record.
Apparently as soon as the Nixon statements were released to the public, Older took immediate action.
“When I learned of the President’s statements yesterday. I instructed the sheriff’s officers to take special precautions so there was no possible chance of exposing the jury to any of this publicity,” Older said.
The jury was not in the courtroom while defense motions were argued.
Manson, who sat quietly during the legal arguing, was allowed to make his motion to acts his own attorney.
“I want to be able to confront and cross-examine — to be able to take part in these proceedings,” Manson said calmly as he stood at the counsel table.
“It’s easy to sit quietly and let someone else speak for you, but it’s not me, not my philosophy, not my family you’re hearing — you are misinformed so badly.
“I might assist to help you out of this mess because you’ve certainly got a mess.”
Judge Older, in denying the request, reminded him that’s similar request had been denied several times in several different courts.
When the legal haggling ended, the state’s chief prosecution witness, Linda Kasabian, again took the stand to begin her seventh day of testimony.
Monday, shaking with emotion and shouting into the dozens of microphones surrounding him, defense attorney Paul Fitzgerald, representing Patricia Krenwinkel, told newsmen not only the judge was “alarmed” but the defendants themselves were “shaken” and the prosecuting attorneys were “shocked.”
“They,” he said referring to Deputy Dist. Attys. Aaron Stovitz and Vincent Bugliosi, “even came over and gave us their condolences.”
Fitzgerald, who claims he is always in trouble with the defendants because he wants to “follow the established system of justice,” called the President’s statements “unprecedented in American jurisprudence.”
“I’ve got faith in the system that ‘truth, justice and liberty will prevail.’ That’s how naive I am.
“But for a man who purports to stand for law and order to speculate and conjecture in regard to a person’s guilt is unbelievable.”
The problem with the President’s widely spread statements, Fitzgerald said, was that they could “possibly taint the jury — and could possibly taint the judge.
“We certainly hope this judge will have the courage to say so, if he is influenced, but the jury, although sequestered, is another matter. We see lots of leaks, lots of holes, and information has a way of getting through.”
“Their spouses,” Fitzgerald reminded, “visit them on weekends and talk, and although their newspapers are excised of stories relating to the case, and their TV is bleeped out, they drive to and from the hotel in a bus. What’s to prevent them from seeing these headlines? — and I’m sure we’ll have headlines on this.”
The attorney claimed that although they took a copy of a news service story to the bench, in the demand for a mistrial, and had it read into the record, the judge refused to acknowledge its accuracy, awaiting further confirmation today.
By MARY NEISWENDER