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Ronald Hughes - Born March 1935 - Died November 1970 (aged 35)
Ronald Hughes was the first attorney Manson chose, but he was replaced by Irving Kanarek two weeks before the start of the trial. From there, he eventually represented Leslie Van Houten.
He failed the bar exam three times before passing and had never tried a case. Hughes was called "the hippie lawyer".
As attorney for Van Houten, Hughes tried to separate the interests of his client from those of Manson. He hoped to show that Van Houten was not acting independently, but instead, was completely controlled in her actions by Manson.
In November 1970, Hughes went missing following a camping trip in a remote area of Ventura County, California. When court reconvened on November 30, Hughes failed to appear. On December 2, Judge Older ordered the trial to proceed and appointed a new attorney, Maxwell Keith, for Van Houten.
On March 29, 1971, Hughes' decomposed body was discovered by two fishermen. His body was found wedged between two boulders in a gorge. Hughes was later positively identified by dental X-rays. The cause of his death was 'undetermined'.
Irving Kanarek - May 12, 1920 - September 2, 2020 (aged 100)
Kanarek had a reputation as an obstructionist. In the TLB trial, Kanarek objected nine times during opening statements. (Reminds me of the Depp/Heard trial).
Kanarek believed that everyone was entitled to their day in court. He once said, "I would defend a client that I knew was guilty of horrific crimes. They have to be proven guilty. I’ve had cases where people were guilty as hell but they couldn’t prove it. And if they can’t prove it, he’s not guilty. In that case, the person walks free. That’s American justice.”
Manson called Kanarek "the worst man in town I could pick".
Kanarek was ordered to be inactive by the California State Bar in 1990.
Daye Shinn - Died 2006
Daye Shinn was 53 at the time of the trial. He was a former used-car salesman of Korean descent. He represented Susan Atkins.
Shinn was disbarred in 1992 for botching a trial. He represented a man (tried for the murder of a police officer) so poorly, that the conviction had to be vacated. Story below:
Paul Fitzgerald - Died at 64
Fitzgerald was 33 at the time of the trial. Technically, Fitzgerald's client was Patricia Krenwinkel, but his fellow lawyers were novices, and it fell to Mr. Fitzgerald to become the strategist for all three female defendants. He is widely considered the most polished and capable of the team.
Fitzgerald was often undercut by his colleagues. He usually cross-examined prosecution witnesses first, then had to watch in agony while Hughes and Kanarek clumsily plowed his points under.
Paul Fitzgerald died of a heart ailment at 64.
Charles Hollopeter - Honorable Mention
Judge Keene assigned Hollopeter to Manson in the early days of the trial, and like a fool, Manson wouldn't have him. Hollopeter was considered an outstanding lawyer. Instead, Manson hand-picked Ronald Hughes (the attorney with the least experience in Los Angeles County).
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Manson devised a ploy that the girls would take the stand, confess all, and absolve him of all responsibility. In short, the girls would take the fall, and say they acted independently.
Fitzgerald realized the girls would be convicted, and Manson would damn himself by demonstrating the prosecution’s contention that he has mesmerizing power.
Hughes, Kanarek and Shinn agreed with Fitzgerald, that it was their duty to keep their clients off the stand. The Defense rested.