Thank you for your frank admission, David, that these were mock arraignments.
Mr. HUBERT. Were you the justice of peace that arraigned Oswald?
Mr. JOHNSTON. Yes; I arraigned Lee Harvey Oswald--let me give you the sequence of them--that's the easiest thing to do. I brought the complete record and I have everything here. The first charge that was filed was for murder with malice of Officer J. D. Tippit of the Dallas Police Department in cause No. F-153, The State of Texas versus Lee Harvey Oswald. This complaint was filed at 7:05 p.m. on the 22d day of November 1963.
Mr. HUBERT. By whom?
Mr. JOHNSTON. By Capt. J. W. Fritz, captain of the homicide bureau, Dallas Police Department, was accepted by W. F. Alexander who is William F. Alexander, an assistant criminal district attorney of Dallas County, Tex., which was passed over to me at 7:05 p.m. The actual complaint was signed at 7:04 p.m. and I arraigned Lee Harvey Oswald at 7:10 p.m. on November 22, 1963, advising him of his constitutional rights and that he had to make no statement at all, and that any statement he made may be used in evidence against him for the offense concerning which this affidavit was taken, and remanded the defendant to the custody of the sheriff of Dallas County, Tex., with no bond as capital offense.
Mr. HUBERT. Is it within your jurisdiction to do that?
Mr. JOHNSTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Where did that occur?
Mr. JOHNSTON. That was in Captain Fritz' office of the Dallas Police Department.
Mr. HUBERT. Who else was present?
Mr. JOHNSTON. Mr. Bill Alexander--William Alexander--an assistant district attorney; Captain Fritz--these are--if I can remember them either two or three of the other homicide detectives; at least one Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, and which one I couldn't say at this time because we were just all in and out of there, and I'm almost sure it was one of the FBI agents, and which one, I couldn't say at this time because we were just all in and out of there, and I'm almost sure there was one of the FBI agents in the room and possibly a Secret Service agent.
Mr. HUBERT. This was not a court proceeding?
Mr. JOHNSTON. This was not the examining trial; no, sir. It was not the examining trial.
Mr. HUBERT. It did not call for a plea ?
Mr. JOHNSTON. It required no pleadings whatsoever; no, sir. This was merely to appraise him of what he was charged with and to advise him of his constitutional rights.
Mr. HUBERT. Did he make any comment upon that at all ?
Mr. JOHNSTON. Yes, sir; but I can't recall what it was. At this particular time he made some remark. Also at the second arraignment for the murder of President Kennedy, when he was brought through the door at this time, he said, "Well, I guess this is the trial," was the statement that he made then, but I don't remember what he said at the arraignment regarding Officer Tippit.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, let's pass to the arraignment concerning President Kennedy, and I wish you would dictate into the record the same information you did as to the first one.
Mr. JOHNSTON. All right, sir. This was the arraignment of Lee Harvey Oswald for the murder with malice of John F. Kennedy, case No. F-154, The State of Texas versus Lee Harvey Oswald. The complaint was filed at 11:25 p.m., was accepted by me at 11:26 p.m. It was filed at approximately 11:25 p.m. by Capt. J. W. Fritz, homicide bureau of the Dallas Police Department, and was accepted by Henry Wade, criminal district attorney, Dallas County, Tex., and was docketed as case No. 154, F-154 at 11:26 p.m.
Shortly after this is when the defendant was taken to the detail room or the assembly room.
Mr. HUBERT. What happened at this arraignment--was it the same as before?
Mr. JOHNSTON. He was not arraigned at this time. He was then arraigned after he was removed to the detail room where the press was allowed to have their first interview with the defendant, with Lee Harvey Oswald. Subsequently in a conference between Captain Fritz, Mr. Wade, and two or three of his assistants and myself, and Chief Curry--it was decided to go ahead and arraign him and that arraignment was held at 1:35 a.m., November 23, 1963, in the identification bureau of the Dallas Police Department, and once again I appraised him of his constitutional rights, read the affidavit, and advised him again that I remanded him to the custody of the sheriff, Dallas County, denying bond as capital offense. He was also told at both of these instances that he would be given the right to contact an attorney of his choice.
Mr. JOHNSTON. That he had a right to be represented by counsel, that he had the right to make a telephone call to contact any person of his choice, and the assault to murder complaint, alleging the assault to murder of John B. Connally in cause No. F-155, The State of Texas versus Lee Harvey Oswald, this complaint was filed by Lt. Robert E. McKinney of the forgery bureau of the Dallas Police Department. This complaint was filed in my office at Richardson, Tex., at 6:15 p.m., on November 23, 1963, and the defendant was not arraigned in this case because he was already being held for two capital offenses. He would have been arraigned in this probably the following week had he lived.
Mr. BALL. Now, your records show that in your office at 6:37 there was an arraignment; do you remember that?
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; I remember that arraignment.
Mr. BALL. Will you tell us what happened then? It doesn't show arraignments.
Mr. FRITZ. Do you show arraignment for 7:30?
Mr. BALL. No; 6:30, 7 you discussed, you met with Alexander, the district attorney's office, didn't you?
Mr. FRITZ. I probably did. I probably talked to him about the evidence.
Mr. BALL. He was arraigned at 7:10.
Mr. FRITZ. He was in our outer office most all the time and I talked to him two, three different times.
Mr. BALL. Did he ever take part in the questioning of Oswald?
Mr. FRITZ. I don't believe so; no, sir.
Mr. BALL. What happened at 7:10?
Mr. FRITZ. 7:10 we had this arraignment with Judge David Johnston, and present, I was present, and Officers Sims, Boyd, Hall, and Mr. Alexander from the district attorney's office, and that was in my office.
Mr. BALL. How was the arraignment conducted?
Mr. FRITZ. Well, the judge gave him a warning, talked to him for a little bit.
Mr. BALL. What warning did he give him?
Mr. FRITZ. He advised him of his rights. I believe he had a form; I couldn't repeat it, of course, but I believe he had some forms that he went over with him.
Mr. BALL. What rights did he advise him of; do you know?
Mr. FRITZ. Of his rights for an attorney, and everything that he told was supposed to be voluntary and things of that kind.
Mr. BALL. He was advised that he had a right to an attorney, was he?
Mr. FRITZ. Yes, sir; I am sure he was; I advised him on that on two or three different occasions.
Mr. BALL. Did---you have a rule in Texas, do you, that whatever a witness, a person in custody, says cannot be used against him unless he is warned?
Mr. FRITZ. We do have; yes, sir. We have to warn them before we can use the testimony. We have to warn them in the beginning before he is questioned.
Mr. RANKIN - Do you know when Lee Harvey Oswald was arraigned?
Mr. CURRY - It was about 1:30 in the morning. That would be on the morning of the 23d, I believe.
Mr. RANKIN - How long did he how long had he been in your custody then?
Mr. CURRY - About 11 hours. That was on the Tippit; yes, sir.
Mr. RANKIN - When you say that he was arraigned the following day early in the morning, did you mean for the Tippit murder or for the assassination?
Mr. CURRY - No; that was for the assassination of the President.
Mr. RANKIN - All right, will you tell us when he was arraigned for the Tippit murder?
Mr. CURRY - I was not present but I believe it was about 7:30.
Mr. RANKIN - That same evening?
Mr. CURRY - Yes; that would be about 5 hours afterwards.
Mr. RANKIN - Do you recall whether he was arrested first for the assassination or for the Tippit murder?
Mr. CURRY - For the Tippit murder. There were some witnesses to this murder and they had observed him as he left the scene, and this was what he was arrested for.
The CHAIRMAN - May I interrupt Just to ask the chief a question? Chief, on your arraignments does the magistrate advise the petitioner as to his right to counsel?
Mr. CURRY - Yes, sir; he does.
The CHAIRMAN - Does he ask him if he has counsel?
Mr. CURRY - I don't recall him doing that. I am not customarily present when a person is arraigned.
The CHAIRMAN - You were not present at the arraignment?
Mr. CURRY - I was present when he was arraigned for the assassination of the President. I was not present when he was arraigned for the murder of Tippit.
The CHAIRMAN - I suppose they make a stenographic record of that, do they not?
Mr. CURRY - Yes, sir; I am sure they do.
The CHAIRMAN - That is all I have.
Mr. RANKIN - Chief, our people made an inquiry whether there was a stenographic record. They don't believe there was any.
Mr. CURRY - I am not sure of that. I know at the time he was arraigned for the assassination of the President I was present there at the time. It was decided that we should, district attorney was there at the city hall. He was there during most of the evening.
Mr. RANKIN - Will you just describe for the Commission what happened during the arraignment for the assassination, who was present, what you saw.
Mr. CURRY - As I recall, I know the Justice of the Peace David John Stone was there. It seemed like Sergeant Warren, but I couldn't be positive but some of the jail personnel brought him out into the identification bureau.
Mr. RANKIN - How was he taken out? Were there several people around him, what was the security arrangements?
Mr. CURRY - At that time there was only, we were inside the offices of the criminal identification section. He was brought out through a door that opens from the jail into the criminal identification section. There was only about a half dozen of us altogether there, I don't recall who all was there.
Mr. RANKIN - What do you mean by the criminal identification section. Could you describe what that is?
Mr. CURRY - That is the identification bureau.
Mr. RANKIN - Does that have a room that this meeting occurred in?
Mr. CURRY - It is not a room such as this. It was in the little foyer or lobby, and it is separated from the jail lobby.
Mr. RANKIN - Did the justice of the peace sit or stand or what?
Mr. CURRY - He stood. He stood on one side of the counter and Oswald on the other side of the counter.
Mr. RANKIN - What floor is this on?
Mr. CURRY - The fourth floor.
Mr. RANKIN - That is nearest the place where there are some filing cabinets?
Mr. CURRY - Yes; it is.
Mr. RANKIN - And besides the people that you have described, I assume that you yourself were there as you have said?
Mr. CURRY - Yes; I was.
Mr. RANKIN - Was there anyone else that you recall?
Mr. CURRY - Not that I recall, other than the justice of the peace.
Mr. RANKIN - Will you describe what happened?
Mr. CURRY - Lee Harvey Oswald was brought in and the complaint was read to him, and here again he was very arrogant and he said, "I don't know what you are talking about. That is the deal, is it," and such remarks as this, and the Justice of the peace very patiently and courteously explained to him what the procedure was and why it was.
Mr. RANKIN - What did he say about that?
Mr. CURRY - I don't recall his exact words.
Mr. RANKIN - Just tell us in substance.
Mr. CURRY - He didn't--as I recall, he didn't think much of it. He just said, "I don't know what you are talking about."
Mr. RANKIN - What did the Justice of the peace say about the procedure and any rights and so forth?
Mr. CURRY - As I recall it, he read to him the fact that he was being charged with the assassination of the President of the United States, John Kennedy on such and such day at such and such time.
Mr. RANKIN - Did he say anything about his right to plead?
Mr. CURRY - I don't recall, sir.
Mr. RANKIN - Did he say anything about counsel?
Mr. CURRY - I don't recall whether he did or not.
Mr. RANKIN - What else happened at that time that you recall?
Mr. CURRY - That is about all. After it was read to him, he was taken back to his cell.
Art. 26.02.    PURPOSE OF ARRAIGNMENT.
. Acts 1965, 59th Leg., p. 317, ch. 722, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1966.
Art. 26.03.    TIME OF ARRAIGNMENT.
I realize that what I'm posting is the law as it stood in 1966 - but I believe I did find the law as it stood in '63 when I looked into it before and was basically the same.
No public witnesses.
No wait of at least two days and no waiver.
This is the police force you're defending? The magistrate stated under oath that he presided over two arraignments. The chief of police testified that there was a stenographer present. Neither of those things were true.
Mock arraignments held behind a lock door days before they were due for one one purpose: to do what they had not done already - read him his rights. Too many people were starting to ask questions about it and they panicked.