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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. V - Page 214« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Henry Wade)

Mr. Wade.
Well, I am a graduate of the University of Texas Law School, 1938, with highest honors. I was county attorney at Rock Wall, Tex., another county for 1 year. I resigned on December 4, 1939, and became a special agent of the FBI. As a special agent of the FBI--I was there until August of 1943, these were rough months--when I resigned and became an apprentice seaman in the Navy.
Later I became a lieutenant, junior grade, served in the Pacific 2 years, about 2 years.
Then after the war I got out of the Navy on the 6th of February 1946, ran for district attorney in Dallas and was not elected at that time. I hadn't ever lived in Dallas prior to that. You see there was another county. I was assistant district attorney and then was Federal prosecutor from January 1, 1947, up until December 1949, when I resigned and ran for district attorney.
I was elected district attorney in 1950 and have been criminal district attorney of Dallas County since January 1, 1951.
Mr. Rankin.
Have you handled many of the prosecutions of that county since that time?
Mr. Wade.
Well, my office or I have handled all of them since that time. I have had quite a bit of experience myself. I have a staff of 41 lawyers and, of course, I don't try all the cases but I have tried quite a few, I would say 40, 50 anyhow since I have been district attorney.
Mr. Rankin.
Do you have any particular policy about which cases you would try generally?
Mr. Wade.
Well, it varies according to who my first assistant has been. It is varied. If I have a first assistant who likes to try cases, I usually let him try a lot and I do the administrative. At the present time I have a very fine administrative assistant, Jim Bowie, whom you met and I try a few more cases.
I guess I have tried four in the last year probably but two to five a year are about all the cases I try myself personally.
Mr. Rankin.
Do you have any policy about capital cases as to whether you should try them or somebody else?
Mr. Wade.
I don't try all of them. I try all the cases that are very aggravated and receive probably some publicity to some extent, and I don't try all the capital cases. I think we have had quite a few death penalties but I don't imagine I have been in over half of them, probably half of them.
Mr. Rankin.
Do you remember where you were at the time you learned of the assassination of President Kennedy?
Mr. Wade.
Well, they were having a party for President Kennedy at Market Hall and I was out at Market Hall waiting for the President to arrive.
Mr. Rankin.
How did you learn about the assassination?
Mr. Wade.
Well, one of the reporters for one of the newspapers told me there had been a shooting or something, of course, one of those things we were getting all kinds of rumors spreading through a crowd of 3,000-5,000 people, and then they got the radio on and the first report was they had killed two Secret Service agents, that was on the radio, and then the press all came running in there and then ran out, no one knew for sure what was going on until finally they announced that President had been shot and from the rostrum there the chairman of the----
Mr. Dulles.
Who was the chairman of that meeting, do you recall?
Mr. Wade.
Eric Johnson. Eric Johnson.
Mr. Rankin.
Was he mayor then?
Mr. Wade.
No; he wasn't mayor, he was the president of Texas Industries have and I believe was president of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. I may been wrong on that but he has been president of the chamber of commerce. He is president of Texas Industries, and this is not particularly important but he is--that was sort of a bipartisan deal, in that he is one of the leading Republicans of Dallas and he was chairman of the meeting.
Mr. Rankin.
What did you do after you heard of the assassination?
Mr. Wade.
Well, the first thing, we were set up in a bus to go from there to Austin to another party that night for President Kennedy, a group of us, 30 or 40. We got on a bus and went. I went back to the office and sent my wife home, my wife was with me.
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