ARRB Updates

Note: This file consists primarily of press releases from the Assassination Records Review Board --- that is, stuff they have deemed okay for public consumption. There may be other stuff here from time to time.

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: TOM SAMOLUK
APRIL 9, 1996
(202) 724-0088, EXT. 227

JFK ASSASSINATION RECORDS REVIEW BOARD RELEASES FILES OF JIM GARRISON AND CLAY SHAW DEFENSE ATTORNEY

The Assassination Records Review Board announced today the release of records from the private files of former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison and from the files of Edward Wegmann, a member of Clay Shaws defense team. Garrison conducted an investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy in the late 1960's. Shaw was tried by Garrison and acquitted in 1969 on the charge of conspiring to kill the President.

These are the first private records that the Board has made a part of the JFK Collection, said the Honorable John R. Tunheim, Chair of the Review Board. The Garrison investigation into the Kennedy assassination is an important part of the history of this case. As a result of the generosity of both the Garrison and Wegmann families, the public will be able to gain further insight into the investigation from two very different views. I hope their contributions will serve as a model for others who possess records that should be part of the JFK Collection and available to the public.

Last year, as part of its effort to make the JFK Collection as complete as possible, the Review Board focused attention on potential sources of assassination records in New Orleans. The Board conducted a public hearing in New Orleans in June 1995.

After being approached by the Review Board, the late Jim Garrisons family agreed to donate a collection of records on the assassination of President Kennedy that Garrison had kept at his residence. The collection includes records from his assassination investigation and prosecution of Clay Shaw, as well as other files on individuals or subjects that Garrison thought were connected to the assassination. There are approximately 15,000 pages in the Garrison collection.

The family of the late Edward Wegmann, who was a member of the legal team which defended Clay Shaw at his 1969 assassination conspiracy trial, agreed to donate Mr. Wegmanns files to the JFK Collection. Some of the documents in the Wegmann collection came from the office files of District Attorney Garrison. William Gurvich, an investigator for Garrison, made copies of many internal memoranda and witness interviews from the District Attorneys files when he left the office after becoming disenchanted with Garrison and the investigation. He turned the documents over to Shaws attorneys. There are approximately 6,000 pages in the Wegmann collection.

The original documents being released today have been transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration for inclusion in the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection, which is housed at the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland.

Copies of selected documents from both the Garrison and Wegmann collections are available from the Assassination Records Review Board, 600 E Street, NW, Second Floor, Washington DC 20530; telephone number: (202) 724-0088.


NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: TOM SAMOLUK
MARCH 7, 1996
(202) 724-0088, EXT. 227

JFK ASSASSINATION RECORDS REVIEW BOARD SUBPOENAS GARRISON RECORDS FROM NEW ORLEANS DISTRICT ATTORNEY

The Assassination Records Review Board announced today that it has subpoenaed records from the investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy conducted by former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. The records are held by current New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick. Connick has failed to comply with the subpoena. A federal judge in New Orleans did not grant a motion by the District Attorney to quash the subpoena, and ordered the parties to arrange for a convenient time for the transfer of documents to the Review Board. Connick has failed to comply with the judges order and the Board is now seeking enforcement of it.

The Review Board took this step to ensure that the public interest in these assassination records is protected, said the Honorable John R. Tunheim, Chair of the Review Board. It is still our hope and desire to resolve this matter without lengthy legal proceedings.

The subpoena required the District Attorney to produce all documents and records in [his] possession, custody or control relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, including but not limited to handwritten notes, memoranda, drawings, photographs, tape recordings, and correspondence that relate to the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Clay Shaw by former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, with the exception of any grand jury materials still extant in the possession of the District Attorneys Office.

Connick did not produce the records by February 16, 1996, as required by the subpoena. On February 16, Judge Marcel Livaudais, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, ordered the Review Board and Connick to find a mutually agreeable time for production of the documents in New Orleans. Connick has failed to agree to a time to produce the documents. The Review Board filed papers today in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans seeking enforcement of Judge Livaudais order.

District Attorney Connick told the Review Board last summer that he would donate the files from Garrisons assassination investigation that remain in his office for inclusion in the JFK Assassination Records Collection. The subpoena was issued after the District Attorney had failed to forward the Garrison-era records to the Review Board during the last eight months, despite the Review Boards repeated attempts to encourage Connick to do so. The records are defined as assassination records within the meaning of the Boards governing statute, The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (JFK Act).

Another matter related to the Garrison assassination investigation records is pending between the Review Board and District Attorney Connick. In July 1995, the Board received an unsolicited shipment of records that allegedly are Grand Jury transcripts from the Garrison investigation. These records have not been made public by the Board. The law presumes that the Board will preserve assassination records, such as the Garrison Grand Jury records, in its possession for inclusion in the JFK Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives. District Attorney Connick has sought the return of these records. The Review Board has not returned the documents, citing its legal obligation under the JFK Act, but has repeatedly offered to seek a resolution of the matter with the District Attorney. Connick has refused to engage in any discussions with the Board.


JFK Board Subpoenas D.A.

Associated Press Wire, 3/7/96

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An independent board compiling a public record of President Kennedy's assassination asked a federal court on Thursday to force New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick to turn over documents.

But Connick is determined to fight the Assassination Records Review Board. "He kind of feels they're not worth cooperating with," said his attorney, William Wessel.

At issue are documents concerning an investigation into the Kennedy assassination by Connick's predecessor, Jim Garrison. Garrison's probe was depicted by Oliver Stone in the 1992 movie "JFK."

After the film generated public concern that the government hasn't disclosed all it knows about Kennedy's assassination, the board was created to uncover new assassination-related materials and review any records that government agencies have kept secret.

Connick has refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the board. On Thursday, the board asked the U.S. District Court in New Orleans to compel him to turn over the Garrison records. A hearing has been set for March 27.

Wessel argued that the board has jurisdiction over federal records, but no right to any state or local materials, public or private.

But Connick has also held out because he's angry that the board refused to return another batch of grand jury records provided by a former investigator for Garrison, Gary Raymond, who had stored them for 20 years.

The board received the records after Raymond provided them to a New Orleans television reporter, Richard Angelico.

"They were transferred up there by a local reporter and his snitch," Wessel said. "The review board knows they weren't entitled to those, but they decided to keep them. That, of course, has made for negative reaction in Mr. Connick's mind."

The board maintains it has a right, under federal law, to all assassination-related materials. The records are being housed in a collection at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Md.

John R. Tunheim, the board's chairman, said the court action was taken "to ensure that the public interest in these assassination records is protected."

Meanwhile, the board is hanging onto the grand jury records until their legal status is clarified, probably through the courts. Its view is that federal law providing for the release of such materials takes precedence over state laws governing grand jury secrecy.

Last month, a state court found Raymond and Angelico guilty of contempt.

Connick had brought charges against the two, saying that the state's grand jury secrecy law had been violated when Raymond handed over the records and when Angelico aired the names of some of the witnesses in July.

Raymond testified that he kept the transcripts after Connick ordered their destruction in 1974 because he felt they were of historical value.


Review Board Deposes JFK Autopsists

The Assassination Records Review Board has reportedly questioned two Naval doctors who performed the autopsy on President Kennedy at Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1963.

According to an enclosure in the current newsletter of the Assassination Archives and Research Center, "The AARC has learned that the Review Board recently took the depositions of Naval Commanders J. Thorton Boswell and James J. Humes, two key doctors who participated in the JFK autopsy at the Naval Medical Hospital. When transcripts of the depositions become available, the AARC will obtain them."

Commander Humes was in charge of the autopsy, which was performed on the night of the assassination. He apparently had no experience performing autopsies on victims of violent death. Commander Boswell, chief of pathology at the Naval Medical School, assisted. A third doctor, Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Finck, was called in to assist by Dr. Humes after the autopsy had begun.

Dr. Humes said in 1963 that he had been forbidden to talk about the autopsy. He also acknowledged that he destroyed an early draft his his report.


Commission Exhibit 397 --- WC Volume 17, p. 48


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