Jim Garrison

From Academic Kids

Earling Carothers Garrison (November 20, 1921 - October 21, 1992) -- who changed his first name to simply Jim in the early '60s -- was District Attorney of New Orleans, Louisiana from 1962 to 1973; he is best known for his investigations into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Garrison remains a controversial figure; opinions differ as to whether he uncovered the actual conspiracy behind the John F. Kennedy assassination but was blocked from successful prosecution by Federal government coverup, whether he bungled his chance to uncover the truth of the conspiracy, or whether the entire case was a wild goose chase motivated by Garrison's alleged (though never proven) desire for self publicity.



Earling Carothers Garrison was born in Knoxville, Iowa. His family moved to New Orleans in his childhood. He served in the United States Army in World War II, then got a law degree from Tulane University. He briefly worked for the FBI, then went into private law practice. He served as New Orleans' assistant District Attorney from 1954 to 1958. In 1961 he ran for District Attorney, succeeding in the race despite lack of major political backing, and took office in May of the following year. In 1973 he lost the office to Harry Connick, Sr.. He was elected a State of Louisiana Appeals Circuit Court Judge, serving from 1978 to his death in 1992.

After the Clay Shaw trial, Garrison wrote three books about the Kennedy assassination, A Heritage of Stone (1970), The Star Spangled Contract, and the best selling book, On the Trail of the Assassins (1988). During the Shaw trial, Garrison attempted to connect Shaw to the CIA. At the time, no hard evidence could be produced regarding any such connection. Subsequently, in 1979, Richard Helms (former director of the CIA) gave sworn testimony in a civil deposition which confirmed Shaw's contact with the CIA prior to the Shaw trial. In addition, it has been discovered, through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests that Clay Shaw had access to and clearance from the CIA to a CIA program called QKENCHANT. To date, there is no unclassified information concerning what the QKENCHANT program was about. However, whether in fact this CIA connection tied Shaw to the Kennedy assassination is an unresolved and contested issue even to date. The controversy surrounding Clay Shaw's now apparent CIA activities will not be conclusively resolved until the scope and purpose of the QKENCHANT program are fully revealed.

The 1991 Oliver Stone motion picture JFK was largely based on Garrison's book. Kevin Costner played a fictionalized version of Garrison in the movie. Garrison himself had a small on-screen role in the film, playing United States Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren.

Garrison was able to subpoena the Zapruder film and show it in public for the first time. Until the trial, the film had not been seen by the public, and bootleg copies made by assassination investigators working with Garrison led to the film being widely distributed.


  • "You know, Tennyson once said that, "authority forgets a dying king." This was never more true than in the murder of John Kennedy. The strange and deceptive conduct of the government after his murder began while his body was warm, and has continued for five years. You have seen in this courtroom indications of the interest of part of the government power structure in keeping the truth down, in keeping the grave closed." - Jim Garrison [Closing Argument at Clay Shaw Trial in New Orleans. (1968)]
  • "This is not the first time I've charged a person before I've made the case." - Jim Garrison [James Phelan, Scandals, Scamps, and Scoundrels (New York: Random House, 1982), p. 155.]
  • ""Most of the time you marshal your facts, then deduce your theories. But Garrison deduced a theory, then he marshaled the facts. And if the facts didn't fit he'd say they had been altered by the CIA." - Charles Ward, former assistant to Garrison [Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans and Co., 1998), p. 228.]

Further reading

  • Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins. ISBN 0446362778
  • James DeEugenio, The Assassinations. ISBN 0922915822
  • William Davy, Let Justice Be Done: New Light On The Jim Garrison Investigation. ISBN 0966971604
  • Patricia Lambert, False Witness: The Real Story of Jim Garrison's Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK. ISBN 0871319209

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