Trials: Shutting Up Big-Mouth

  • Share
  • Read Later

"I'll be the only person ever convicted in the assassination of President Kennedy, and I don't know beans about it," said Attorney Dean Andrews before he went on trial two weeks ago. For once he seemed to be right. Last week a five-man New Orleans jury* found him guilty of having committed perjury three times during District Attorney Jim Garrison's bootless investigation into the Kennedy assassination. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Three years ago, Andrews told the Warren Commission that he had been called by a man named Clay Bertrand the day after the assassination and asked to defend Lee Harvey Oswald; previously, he had told the FBI that he had made the whole story up. Ever since Garrison's inquiry started, the oddball lawyer has bounced in arid out with such a mixture of contradictions and dislocated hip talk that few knew or cared what he was trying to say. Garrison kept track, though. When the D.A. charged Clay Shaw with being Clay Bertrand and part of a conspiracy to kill Kennedy, Andrews at first told a grand jury that he could not say whether Shaw and Bertrand were the same person, then stated that they were definitely different men.

"The jolly green giant," as Andrews calls Garrison, filed perjury charges—with a few other minor contradictions thrown in for good measure. That was no surprise, and Garrison has since filed various charges against half a dozen other witnesses. Andrews was the first to come to trial. He did not go quietly, of course, even defended himself for half of the proceedings. At one point he asked for a brief delay "so I can collect my thoughts. I just can't pop up and say da-da-da-da-da-da." Next day he added: "I don't know from nothing. What I got is a vivid imagination. The moral to all this, brother-in-law, is keep your big mouth shut." Which he may now have to do when Garrison brings Shaw to trial. Convicted perjurers make poor witnesses.

-* In guaranteeing jury trials, the U.S. Constitution made no mention of how many persons are required to make one up. The use of twelve men traces back to English common law. Louisiana is by no means the only state that sometimes permits juries of fewer than twelve.