The Law: The Panthers' Honky Lawyer

When the Black Panthers sought a lawyer to defend Huey Newton on a murder charge a few years ago, so a popular story goes, they tested the attitude of Charles Garry in a long interview. "Are you as good as Perry Mason?" one of them growled at the white San Francisco attorney. "I'm better," Garry replied. "Both of us get our clients off, but Mason's are innocent."

The Panthers happily hired Garry —and they have never regretted it. At Newton's trial, Garry pictured the Panther "defense minister" as a selfless leader of his people and compared his message with that of Jesus,...

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