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Waggoner Carr Calls Court of Inquiry on JFK Assassination (1963)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1963

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Transcript
  •  Herbert Miller: General Carr, I would only say this to the ladies and gentlemen here assembled.  I came down here Sunday.  I went to Dallas after the despicable act that was committed.  To that end the FBI commenced early and is working hard to compile all of the facts that we can obtain concerning the method and manner of the assassination. 
  •  HM: As soon as we can check and double check these facts and put them into a form of a report, this report will be released so that the American public and people in foreign countries can ascertain all of the facts that surrounded the assassination. 
  •  HM: I came down here today at the request of General Carr because I wanted to discuss with him his proposed board of inquiry.  I came down to assure him that his aims and the aims of the federal government are identical.  Namely that we want to place as a matter of record all of the facts concerning the assassination so that there will be no question in anybody's mind as to what actually occurred and that the speculation and rumor which has been abounding will be laid to rest. 
  •  HM: So to that end the United States attorney Barefoot Sanders and I came down here to offer the cooperation of the federal government to the Texas Board of Inquiry which will be started by General Waggoner Carr.  That's all I have to say. 
  •  Waggoner Carr: ...several times today, and he has asked me to state that although he was not able to be here tonight that we have his complete cooperation that whatever we can work out to make this cooperation more effective that he will in turn cooperate with it completely.  Now Neal, go ahead. 
  •  Neal: Who's going to be investigating...[unintelligible]...DPS or who....? 
  •  WC: When John, we haven't made that decision yet except that we're interested in doing it as quickly as possible, consistent with the cooperation between these agencies....Well as quickly as possible.  I would hesitate to put it one day or another.  
  •  [dialogue overlaps] Sam:  ...question about the court of inquiry being held before the investigation is complete...any question about a court interfering with the investigation....so about when or where is it.... 
  •  WC: It depends on how fast the FBI operates, Sam.  If they take two or three days they may be able to, maybe their report would come out before we could get going. 
  •  [dialogue overlaps] Sam: ...court of inquiry immediately will interfere with anything that they might be doing, might be working on the case. 
  •  WC: We have discussed that possibility tonight and although it's impossible to see every angle to it, we certainly would not, either one of us, want that to occur.  If we felt that we were getting in competition with each other, which was in turn making the job of each of us more difficult, this is the purpose of our attempted cooperation. 
  •  Neal: What do you hope to accomplish the recorded inquiry... If you're turning over all of your local and state information to the FBI and Department of Justice and this department is in turn turning over to you, I don't see what you're accomplish- [sound distorts] 
  •  WC: Yes sir, yes sir and we think that it's important from Texas' standpoint that these things be brought out in public view so that everyone might have the knowledge rather than suspicions of this or that. 
  •  Reporter: General, are you convinced in your own mind at this point that there has been no point to cover up or mislead or conspire in any way? 
  •  WC: No, I'm not convinced either way, and I don't, it wouldn't be fair for you to put words in my mouth to that effect, which I know you're not, but let's be careful about it because all I know is frankly at this point what I read in the newspapers or heard over the radio or television.  But I do know that no one says that all evidence has been made public at this point. 
  •  Reporter: Did you arrive at the decision to hold this court of inquiry independently that is?  Maybe you said that you had not discussed it with the Federal Administration or the Justice Department prior to making your announcement yesterday. 
  •  WC: I did not say that.Reporter:  I understood...WC: No, as a matter of fact, no, I did not say that.Reporter: -have you talked to other state officials...making their announcement of the court of inquiry yesterday.WC: Other state officials?  Oh, you mean of this state?Reporter: Yes.WC: Yes, yes.  I have also been in contact and have kept informed the staff of Governor Connally. 
  •  WC: Yes.Reporter: Can you tell us about the advice from...WC: No, I don't think I could. 
  •  WC: No, not definitely, and again I say that we would go very strongly on the recommendations of the local district attorney in that regard. 
  •  Reporter: Is there a possibility that this could become a trial of a person who is not present to defend himself.  A trial in the public eye- 
  •  WC: This seems to be the way it'll work out, which I approve very much. The evidence, which this state and the local people and enforcement officers have gathered to this point, as of today been turned over to the Department of Justice. Although with this work done without my personal knowledge, I think it is alright because we want them to have, by them I mean the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice, to have the evidence that we have locally and statewide. They in turn will make their evidence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation evidence and the Department of Justice evidence, available to us. 
  •  Well I think I can tell you. I'll make an attempt to. The Court of Inquiry is the only judicial proceeding that we have in this state, and there's nothing like it even in the federal government, where we can have a public judicial hearing where witnesses can be subpoenaed from anywhere within the state of Texas, put under oath, and testify with the threat of perjury and punishment for perjury is the statements given or testimony given is false. 
  •  This is the only way it can be done. Now, we have all seen in recent days many rumors, suspicions, doubts that are common among many, many people. We would hope that such a public hearing as described would be held, that this would emphasize and demonstrate to the world, to the United States, and to the people of Texas, that nothing has been covered up, or tainted, or that there is any effort on behalf of any public officials to conspire, to mislead or to cover up. 
  •  I have been in contact with the White House staff all along, and they have been advised of what has been done and they will continue in the future to be advised of what we are doing. 
 
TAMI Tags
  •  Herbert Miller opening remarks 
  •  Barefoot Sanders 
 
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  • About the video
  • The Court of Inquir... The Court of Inquiry
  • Waggoner Carr Waggoner Carr
  • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
  • Barefoot Sanders Barefoot Sanders
  • Texas Locations
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November 26, 1963. In the office of the attorney general, Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr holds a joint press conference with Herbert Miller, head of the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Carr calls for for state and federal co-operation in the making public all known facts surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The original intention was that the state’s gathered facts would be turned over to the FBI and the FBI’s compiled facts would be made public after their completion. At the urging of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the inquiry was delayed indefinitely, and ultimately was never held.
The court of inquiry itself refers to a court which would replace the trial for Lee Harvey Oswald, which, after his death, could not be held. In this court of inquiry, subpoenaed witnesses would testify under oath to make public more facts surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. Says Carr, “The court of inquiry is the only judicial process we have in this state where we can have a public judicial hearing where witnesses can be subpoenaed, put under oath -- and the facts can be established in public view.”
Born in 1918 in Hunt County just East of Dallas, Waggoner Carr graduated from Lubbock High School and Texas Tech University. After service as a pilot for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, Carr completed a law degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1950, Carr went on to serve two terms as the Speaker of the House in 1957 and 1959. After losing a 1960 bid for state Attorney General to incumbent Will Wilson, Carr later ran successfully for the 1962 and 1964 terms. In 1966, he unsuccessfully challenged Republican John Tower for his seat in the U.S. Senate at the price of his seat as Attorney General. In 1968, he attempted a run for Texas governor, then retired from politics. He spent his later years serving on the Texas Tech University board of regents, as state commander of the American Legion, and on citizens’ commissions in Austin and on the state level. At the time of his death in 2004, Carr was writing books about Jesse James and the past attorney generals of Texas. 
 
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
 
A particularly notable moment is his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
 
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
 
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.
Barefoot Sanders was a democratic politician from Texas and a United States District Judge perhaps best known for his role in desegregating the Dallas Independent School District.
 
Harold Barefoot Sanders was born in Dallas on February 5, 1925 to H.B. Sanders and May Elizabeth Forrester. He eventually went by “Barefoot,” his grandmother’s maiden name. After serving in the navy during World War II, he attended the University of Texas, where he studied law and served as both head cheerleader and student body president. He married Jan Scurlock and had four children. In the 1950s, Sanders served three terms in the Texas House of Representatives. After an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives, President Kennedy appointed him as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Sanders was not far behind Kennedy in the motorcade during the assassination.
 
He went on to work in the Justice Department, serve as Legislative Counsel to the President during the Johnson administration, and served as a Federal Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas beginning in 1979. The Dallas Independent School District began desegregating in 1961 and declared itself fully desegregated in 1967. However, a lawsuit was filed against DISD citing continuing discrimination, which was prohibited under Brown v. Board of Education. Multiple desegregation trials took place over the next decade, and the case was turned over to Barefoot Sanders in 1981. He ruled that the district had continued policies of segregation and ordered his own plan to be implemented. The school rejected his decision until 1983. He continued to oversee the district until 2003, when he ruled that DISD was desegregated. Sanders held his position as a Federal Judge until his death on September 21, 2008.