Richard M. Nixon Grand Jury Testimony Transcript from July 1975 - Read It Here

Public domain discoveries on the Internet never fail to amaze me - there's so much out there!  Project Gutenberg alone could keep you staring at a screen for days, but I digress.  Today, as I was surfing around for a public domain image, I stumbled upon something fascinating.

Well, I find it fascinating, at least.

It's the complete transcription of the Grand Jury testimony given by President Richard M. Nixon back in the summer of 1975 -- along with notes from those questioning him and other amazing stuff.  Okay, geeky-amazing.  Granted.

I remember my mother being very (VERY) involved in all the Watergate stuff back as it was happening, she would watch the televised proceedings for hours at a time -- and I vaguely remember bits and pieces of things.  Leon Jaworski was from Houston; John Dean testifying with his young, blond wife at his side.  The Nixon wave as he got on the helicopter.  And, of course, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All the President's Men. (Sigh.  I think I saw that movie five times during the first two months it was in the theatre.)

Richard Nixon Testified?  I Did Not Know That.

However, I don't remember Nixon ever giving testimony - so finding this deposition transcript was a real find for me.  I did not know this existed -- wow.

The testimony was taken in San Clemente, California, almost a year after Nixon had resigned.  (Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974; the deposition began on June 23, 1975 as part of District of Columbia grand jury proceedings which began in January 1974 (see page 4 of the transcript).)

Richard Nixon's 1975 Deposition Transcript Can Be Read Online 

Consider the "areas of inquiry" delineated for that first day of testimony (pp. 5-6):
1. The circumstances surrounding the 18 and a half minute gap in the tape of the meeting between you and Haldeman on June 20, 1972. 
2. Aspects of alleged receipt of large amounts of cash by Charles Rebozo or Rose Mary Woods on your behalf, and financial transactions or aspects thereof between Hr. Rebozo and you. 
3. Attempts to prevent the disclosure of the existence of the National Security Council wire tap program through removal of the records from the FBI, matters dealing with threats to reveal the existence of such records, and the testimony of L. Patrick Gray at his confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate upon his nomination to be permanent Director of the FBI. 
4. Any relationship between campaign contributions and the consideration of ambassadorships for five persons: Ruth Farkas, J. Fife Symington, Jr., Vincent deRoulet, Cornelius V. Whitney and Kingdon Gould, Jr., and 
5. The obtaining and release of information by the White House concerning Lawrence O'Brien through use of the Internal Revenue Service.
Why Read Nixon's Testimony Now?

For one thing, it's very entertaining from a lawyer point of view - or maybe that subset of lawyers that have taken and defended many, many depositions.  For example, I chuckled at the top of page 26 when Nixon has just testified about one memo and how maybe it came across his desk and next, there's the introduction of another exhibit with the question, do you see this notation "... the president has seen your memo ...."  It's that "are you lying then or are you lying now" sort of exchange that gets the questioning lawyer all pumped up and the defending lawyer ready to strangle his client.

For another, it's history.  Plus, it's a great example of our political system in action -- this is the former President, of all people, who is being grilled here.  Maybe you'll find your own reasons....

Click on the image to go to read the first file containing his testimony.  There are several others, as well as other files with other stuff, i the complete Nixon Grand Jury Records stored online by the GPO.


Truckers Are Going to Washington and I'm Worried (Read their Press Release Here)

Truck drivers are a different breed, and I can say that because my dad used to drive a truck, long ago.  So when I heard about all these truckers deciding they were going to have their own march on the nation's capital - just like the motorcycle folk did a while ago - I thought, well that's exciting.

I pictured all these 18-wheelers rumbling from all parts of the country, gathering together somewhere near Virginia or something and then parading into Washington, D.C., with horns blaring.  (Who hasn't driven up to a trucker and asked him to toot that loud horn?  I remember doing that in high school, driving along while my friend Cindy signaled from the passenger side window, her long blonde hair blowing in the wind.)

Truckers know their own mind and they're an independent bunch.  When I heard that someone was saying that they were going to "arrest" some of the politicians, I thought it was the trucker version of spin, just getting things all fired up.  (This was confirmed by the Washington Post.)

Then Twitter cancelled their account, I can't get into their website, and there's all this jabber online about how these folk are troublemakers coming to town without a welcome mat.

Read their press release here.  Their new Facebook page is still going strong, last I heard. (Their first Facebook page was deleted by Facebook.)

I'm all for people standing up for what they believe in, and the Constitution does start out with those three little words, "We the People."  So if a big bunch of truck drivers want to go to the nation's capitol to have their say on things, that's fine with me.

Here's the thing.

Things appear to be very, very tense with all sorts of law enforcement agencies right now.  There was the shooting of the single mom who was driving around near the Capitol with her baby and no gun in a very risky way last week.  There was the story today about the seniors who were kept under armed guard at the Old Faithful Inn at Yosemite National Park -- the tourists from Japan thought they had been arrested.   You get the idea.

It's tough to be a cop, and I respect what they have to do.  During my years representing kids in Child Protective Services cases, I came to see things that made me respect law enforcement all the more.

It's tough being a truck driver, too.  Long hours on the road, pressure to meet deadlines, the new HOS rules and all those new regulations -- no one got rich being a trucker, and it's a dangerous job in its own right.

So I'm praying that these truckers and these police officers don't clash physically and that no one gets hurt when all those big rigs start rumbling down the Beltway. Because they ARE coming.  

Seriously, I'm praying for the safety of everyone there because I'm worried it is going to be somewhat of a powder keg.  And if you want to pray too, I think that would be great.

May God bless America - the land of the free, and the home of the brave.  Now more than ever.



Texas Child Protective Service (CPS) Workers Arrested for Numerous Felonies in Alicia Moore Case While Terry Ramshire Takes a Plea and Great Uncle Michael Indicted for Alicia Moore Capital Murder

Last November, a pretty little girl named Alicia Moore disappeared on her way home from school to her grandmother's house. She was petite and cute and wore glasses, had a nice smile. Maybe you've seen her picture. Alicia Moore was 16 years old when she died.

Alicia Moore Murder: Terry Ramshire Takes Plea on Sexual Assault Charges, Great Uncle Michael Charged With Capital Murder

A few weeks ago, Terry Ramshire was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after he pled guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child in connection with Alicia’s death. This was a plea bargain deal with the local prosecutors, based upon two Grand Jury indictments that stated Terry Dwayne Ramshire had sexually assaulted a “Jane Doe” victim under the age of 17 years on multiple occasions, as well as (indictment no. 2) indecency with a child by sexual conduct, between July 2009 and December 2010.

Maybe you remember this story when it happened last fall. 

 Alicia Moore was last see alive as she got off her Van Zandt County school bus near her home in Greenville; her body was discovered 4 days later. They had video of her leaving the bus, no big clues there. 

Four days later, Alicia's nude body was found around 35 miles away from the school bus stop, stuffed in the back of a trunk dumped on the side of rural county road in Hunt County.

Skip from November 2012 to May 2013, and there's big news in the case.

The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office arrested Alicia’s great-uncle, Michael Vincent Moore, of Grand Prairie, for her killing. Investigators reported that DNA evidence linked Uncle Michael to his niece’s murder. Uncle Michael has been formally charged with capital murder (which carries the death sentence if convicted). No trial date yet; no plea deal.

Now, 3 CPS Workers Arrested for Felony Evidence Tampering and Felony Oppression in Alicia Moore Case

 This week, the Hunt County Grand Jury issued arrest warrants for Laura Marsh Ard, then program director for the Rockwall, Texas, branch office of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (she retired in March 2013) along with Natalie Ausbie-Reynolds, who worked out of the CPS office in Hunt County, and Rebekah Ross, another CPS Investigator. (Both Ausbie-Reynolds and Ross quit their CPS jobs in the past few months.)

 According to media reports: 

  • Ard was arrested on one felony count of tampering with evidence; 
  • Ausbie-Reynolds was arrested on one felony count of tampering with evidence and three felony counts of official oppression; and 
  • Ross was arrested on one felony count of tampering with evidence and four felony counts of official oppression.

Every single one of these charges brings with it, under Texas law, a maximum sentence of 2-20 years incarceration in a Texas prison and a possible maximum monetary fine of $10,000.

These are CPS workers who have been arrested and charged for FELONIES in connection with a CPS case.  This is a big deal.  

Right now, we don’t know what exactly is going on here — the Hunt County District Attorney isn’t giving details on what these three CPS people allegedly have done to be arrested on so many felonies, but it’s understood that it’s dealing with the “Alicia Moore case” as opposed to the “Alicia Moore murder.”

 This case made the national news.

Jane Velez Mitchell interviewed the family shortly after the homicide was discovered, and the Huffington Post provided good, detailed coverage of the investigation as it was progressing (including online uploads of the school bus video showing Alicia leaving the school bus and the police reports that were filed at the time).

Of importance here, early in the case, was the failure of any arrests being made between November 2012 and May 2013. The FBI, the Texas Rangers, and local authorities frustrated the family with a lack of information and results, and there was the additional problem that Alicia Moore was first considered a runaway and not someone in danger - and therefore never placed on an Amber Alert.

Would Alicia Chanta Moore be alive today if there had been an Amber Alert? Good question.

Maybe a better question soon to be asked by a lot of folk is would Alicia Chanta Moore be alive today if CPS had taken action regarding information in CPS investigatory files?

There's a mighty big reason that three CPS employees are now facing felony charges - this doesn't happen all that often here in Texas.


Whitey Bulger Trial Begins Today: a Lesson in Real Life Mafia Crime and How Organized Crime Works (and Succeeds).

Whitey Bulger's Mugshot
Whitey Bulger goes on trial today and while I haven't been following this case before now, I'm suddenly fascinated with what is happening up in Massachusetts starting this week. So I'm going to be posting about the case, sharing what I'm learning with you, Dear Reader.  

Today, the trial begins in a Boston federal courtroom for James (”Whitey”) Bulger, who was on the lam for 16 years before getting nabbed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Santa Monica, and it’s a big deal.

He’s facing charges of racketeering as well as 19 separate murder charges and his pretty blonde girlfriend, Catherine Greig, has been busted too (she already been convicted and sentenced to eight years incarceration for helping Whitey hide from the law).

Starting tomorrow, 675 people who make up the jury pool will begin the process of making their way to the Moakley Courthouse each morning as the judge and attorneys on both sides work to find 18 people out of that group to serve as the 12 jurors and 6 alternates in a trial that is sure to take months and months to complete.

Whitey Bulger Story is a Fascinating Story to Many:  Best Sellers, Big Movie 

This is a big deal for many people, in many ways. There’s already a couple of bestselling books detailing the life of this alleged mobster, and there’s also a big time movie in the works. (Johnny Depp was cast to play the role of Whitey, but he quit this week in an apparent salary dispute.)

The details of this federal trial are going to be a real-life education for many of us that heretofore learned about organized crime through Mario Puzo’s and Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather series or perhaps watching the TV series, The Sopranos

 No fictionalized version of things this time. Follow this trial carefully and it may prove better than any award-winning fiction.  This is the real deal, and it's pretty darn spooky (and this from reading only the pleadings filed in the public record.)

Lessons in Real World Organized Crime: The Structure of the "Cosa Nostra"

Consider this from the live pleadings, the Fourth Superceding Indictment, where I for one learned lots of different descriptions for what the movies refer to as the “Cosa Nostra” in the movies and how the organization works, as well as the charges that have been brought against Whitey Bulger. 

 Summarizing from the first few pages of this indictment:

1. Since1965, both in Massachusetts along with other parts of the country, there has been a “secret criminal organization” which has several nicknames among its membership including:

  • "La Cosa Nostra"
  • "stu Cosa"
  • "The Mafia"
  • "This Thing of Ours," and
  • “This Thing”.  (Who knew?  I never heard of "this thing" for the Mafia before, did you?)

2. The secret criminal organization is efficiently structured into groups called “Families" which operate all across the United States. The Families are overseen at a national level by a national “"commission" which is headquartered in New York City. The Commission’s membership are the leaders of each “Family” known as their "Bosses."

3. The indictment describes one of these Families as follows:

  • “The Patriarca Family of La Cosa Nostra (the "Family"), which operated in the Districts of Massachusetts,on July 11, 1984 and who was then succeeded by his son, Raymond J. Patriarca, aka "Junior," until he was succeeded by the defendant FRANCIS P. SALEMME.“
  • “The Patriarca Family existed and acted in conformity with the rules of La Cosa Nostra (LCN).“

4. Within the the Patriarca Family, the organizational chart involved the following:

  1. The head man (or CEO as it were) is the "Boss."
  2. His right hand man is the "Underboss."
  3. His advisor and counselor is the Family’s "Consigliere."
  4. Below the Underboss are a number of "Capo Regimes" or "Capos", men who are each in charge of a group of members who are their “crew.”
  5. Within the crew, each member is a “made man” known as a “Soldier.”
  6. Associates to the family are those who help the organization succeed and act with the Family members but these Associates are not officially “made” members of the Family.

5. The Family’s business operations were definitely for profit. According to the indictment, this Family gained revenue from a variety of illegal operations such as “…illegal gambling, extortion, loansharking, and narcotics distribution businesses and the collection of unlawful debts.

6. In Massachusetts, there was a separate criminal organization known as "The Winter Hill Gang" and "South Boston." James “Whitey” Bulger was the Boss of the Winter Hill Gang.

7. The Winter Hill Gang acted with “...the purpose of controlling, supervising, financing, and otherwise participating in and deriving income from illegal activities, including illegal gambling, extortion, loansharking, and narcotics distribution businesses and the collection of unlawful debts.

8. The Winter Hill Gang was competing with La Cosa Nostra in the New England area in these illegal marketplaces (gambling, extortion, drugs, etc.)for many years, viciously and successfully.  Things got ugly.

More in my next post.


Limitations, Really?? Ken Anderson Appeals Court of Inquiry's Contempt of Court Finding in Michael Morton Prosecutorial Misconduct Case

Alfred Hitchcock made movies about this:  the innocent man caught up in the system, no one believing his innocence.  John Grisham has made millions with the same scenario.

However, for Michael Morton it was the real thing: not only did Mr. Morton endure the murder of his young wife, the mother of his young son: he was arrested, charged, and convicted of that homicide by the State of Texas.

While his son became a man, Morton sat in a cell having been found guilty of the horrific beating death of his wife with a stick of wood.  No one believed his story that a stranger had killed her after Morton had left for work.  No one listened to the tiny boy explain that it wasn't his dad but a "monster" that hurt his mommy.

There's no air conditioning in Texas prisons, did you know that?  Think about spending 25 summers behind bars in a hot Texas summer where temperatures get well over 100 degrees: it's what Mr. Morton did until Houston civil trial lawyer John Railey almost single-handedly proved him to be an innocent man.

Now Michael Morton is free and dedicating his time to spreading the word about wrongful convictions and how easily these things can happen.

If there's not a movie being made of his story, then there should be.  Thing is, the story's not over.  

Enter the Black Hat.

Long ago, in that criminal courtroom where Morton heard the jury foreperson announce that "guilty" verdict, a man named Ken Anderson sat at the prosecution table.

Anderson went on to run for district judge, and served many years on the Williamson County bench overseeing trials of other citizens.  Until the Morton case came back to bite him.

Last week, Judge Louis Sturns - presiding over a special Court of Inquiry ordered by the Texas Supreme Court - issued his ruling in the case.  Judge Sturns found that Ken Anderson intentionally hid evidence during that murder trial long ago that would have kept Morton out of jail.

Judge Sturns found a prosecutor intentionally held back evidence and in doing so, allowed an innocent man to go to jail for the murder of his wife, presumably to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Clearly, Ken Anderson didn't lose much sleep over the decisions he made back then; he campaigned for higher office and he's fought against these charges of misconduct.  No admissions here, no chagrin, no remorse.

And if I felt any compassion for Judge Anderson, and it's pretty hard to find that right now, it just went out the window as I read today about his appeal of Judge Louis Sturn's ruling.

Get this.  Anderson is arguing that the Court of Inquiry has essentially been an albeit interesting waste of time because none of it matters.  Anderson's argument?  Time bar.

That's right:  Ken Anderson is arguing that he's immune from the contempt order (and its accompanying jail time) because the statute of limitations shields him from any punishment.

This shocks me.  I understand being terrified of going to jail as a longstanding prosecutor, that's not only humiliating, it's also very dangerous.  I get it.  I get fighting against that possibility.

However, for someone who has served as prosecutor and district judge for all these many years, I expect some sense of honor and integrity and respect for the system.

Limitations?  Really?  

Consider by comparison the actions of Travis County's District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, 63, after she was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) earlier this month.

She wrote a letter to the County Attorney and "the Judge of any Court of Jurisdiction," stating in part (read the full letter here):

Please accept this as my Plea of Guilt to the Charge of Driving While Intoxicated, arising from my arrest on 4/12/13, for whatever level of offense is determined to be justified by the facts. 
I enter this unconditional Plea without request for delay, without legal argument by counsel, without any plea bargain, and without any request for leniency or consideration of any type.
I am guilty of DWI and of acting unreasonably and the fault is all my own. I am deeply sorry for my actions.  I apologize to the citizens of Travis County and specifically to the dedicated officers and employees who had to deal with my violation and any disrespectful conduct after my arrest.
Further, I agree to appear, without delay, to enter this plea and I accept whatever assessment of jail time is deemed appropriate by the sentencing Court.
In addition, I agree to waive any right to consideration of probation and waive any right of appeal of my guilt or my punishment, whatever it may be.
Austin's District Attorney did the right thing, in my opinion, and did so with dignity.  She has been sentenced to serve 45 days in the local hoosegow for driving drunk, and I expect she'll serve that term honorably, too.    Too bad that Ken Anderson isn't cut from the same cloth.