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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. VII - Page 326« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of H. Louis Nichols)

Mr. Stern.
Good morning, Mr. Nichols. Will you stand and raise your right and be sworn.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. Nichols.
I do.
Mr. Stern.
Sit down, please. As you know the President's Commission has been instructed by President Johnson to inquire into all the facts surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. This morning I would like to cover with you what you know about Lee Harvey Oswald, whom I understand you interviewed at the Dallas Police Headquarters.
Would you state your name and business address?
Mr. Nichols.
H. Louis Nichols, 1200 Republic Bank Building, Dallas.
Mr. Stern.
What is your profession?
Mr. Nichols.
I am an attorney.
Mr. Stern.
And how long have you been a member of the bar?
Mr. Nichols.
Since 1939.
Mr. Stern.
What bars are you a member of?
Mr. Nichols.
State Bar of Texas, and admitted to practice in the Northern District of Texas, Federal Court.
Mr. Stern.
What position do you presently hold with the Dallas Bar Association?
Mr. Nichols.
I am a member of the board of directors for the Dallas Association, at the present time. During 1963, I was President of the Dallas Bar Association.
Mr. Stern.
During the calendar year, 1963?
Mr. Nichols.
Mr. Stern.
I See. Would you relate for us, Mr. Nichols, in your own words, what occurred respecting Lee Harvey Oswald and your inquiry whether he had the opportunity to avail himself of counsel during the period of his detention, which began on November 22, 1963?
Mr. Nichols.
Sometime in the afternoon on Saturday the 23d of November, as I best recall, in the neighborhood of about 2 o'clock, I received a phone call from a lawyer friend of mine in Dallas who asked me if I knew whether or not Mr. Oswald was represented by an attorney.
I told him I did not. He said he had received a phone call from an eastern lawyer, dean of one of the law schools in the East, who told him that the news media up there were saying that Oswald could not get a lawyer to represent him in Dallas, and he wanted to know if I knew anything about the situation. I told him I had not been following it too closely on television, because I was out Friday and then out with my boy on Saturday morning and didn't know really whether or not he had a lawyer.
And he said, well, that was the information he had received, and wanted to know what I knew about it, and if he didn't have a lawyer, or wasn't able to get one whether or not the bar association could, or would do anything about it. I told him I didn't know what the situation was, but that I would be glad to look into it, and--it had been less than 24 hours since Mr. Oswald had been arrested. In order to refresh my memory as to what the requirement of the State law is, and since I don't practice criminal law, I called a lawyer friend of mine in Dallas who is a criminal lawyer and asked him just to tell me offhand what the obligation was to appoint lawyers in criminal cases, if a person did not have someone to represent him, and he told me that the obligation was only to appoint counsel after a man had been indicted, and that, as he understood it, since Mr. Oswald had not been indicted there was no legal obligation to appoint an attorney.
I also received another call shortly thereafter from another lawyer friend of mine in Dallas who said he had received a call from a dean of a law school. One of the calls was from one dean of one law school. The other was from another. I have forgotten which schools they were, and I don't remember which called first with regard to the various deans, but he wanted to know from me whether or not the bar association was doing anything. Whether Oswald had a lawyer. And whether or not if he didn't have one, we should do anything about getting him one, and I told him I had, had a previous telephone
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