Friday, June 17, 2022

The Defense Team - Ronald Hughes, Irving Kanarek, Daye Shinn, Paul Fitzgerald

Los Angeles Public Library

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).

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection


The Aftermath:

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.


beauders said...

Heads up for those interested in the Process, a documentary released about six years, called "Sympathy For The Devil" is up on YouTube! Go to YouTube and search Sympathy For The Devil Process Church and it should come up. I don't know how long it will be up, so watch sooner than later. Katie watch this maybe we could a discussion about the Process, I find them as fascinating as I do most cults, so watch this.

grimtraveller said...

The prosecution rested

I think you meant "the defence rested."

Fullbug said...

When Ronald Hughes disappeared, that should have resulted in a mistrial.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Thanks Grim.
I was tired...

I'll fix it.

rainercvk said...

I'm wondering if screenwriter Robert Towne, writer of the Sebring-inspired Shampoo and Polanski's collaborator on Chinatown, was inspired by the Ronald Hughes death. Chinatown features a murder victim alleged to have drowned in what the protagonist observes to be a dry riverbed, and The Parallax View, to which Towne made an uncredited writing contribution, features a similar plot element of a suspicious death attributed to drowning in a flooded gorge - which, again, the protagonist discovers to be a cover-up.

Dilligaf said...

Whether a mistrial should have been declared or not, is really a moot point as a California Appeals Court overturned the conviction, and remanded for a new trial, for the same reason.

I have always disliked trials with co-defendant’s, as there is rarely a consensus amongst counsel, regarding trial strategy. It almost always ends up every man for themself, prolongs trial length, and often results in increased appeals claims, most of which are always denied. In this case, counsel was far from the Dream Team.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Beauders. I'll look for that.

Dill I agree. It seems that trials with co-defendants are way too long and confusing for the jury. In the Manson Family trial, the focus was really on Charlie rather than the girls, even though he tried to get the jury to focus on them by getting them to mimic him. But by doing so, he just confirmed to the jury that he had control over them.

I personally think that Ronald Hughes was killed by "the family". But...I could be wrong.

TabOrFresca said...

If you’re going to include Hollopeter, as an Honorable Mention, why not include Ira Reiner and Maxwell Keith?

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

TabOrFresca said:

If you’re going to include Hollopeter, as an Honorable Mention, why not include Ira Reiner and Maxwell Keith?

Thanks for the suggestion.

I had additional ideas for this thread as well.
Unfortunately, it's simply a matter of time management.

It's impossible to include every piece of information (that I'd like to) on every thread.
A person could literally write a book on each thread topic.

My primary goal in writing threads is to stimulate conversation in the comments section.
I think the information shared in this thread is satisfactory to that end.
I've always believed that the comment section is the most valuable portion of any blog.
That's where the real information is usually revealed.

Having said that:
Feel free to submit any information you feel is pertinent regarding Reiner and Keith to my email address (listed in the sidebar). I'll gladly add it to the post.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

"Helter Skelter: An American Myth" (2020)

Robert writes:

Please share this on your blog. It was broadcasted recently on the EPIC channel. It is 5 hours long and is amazing! It includes recent interviews with Dianne Lake, Stephanie Schram, Gypsy, Ivor Davis, Stephen Kay, Phil Kaufman, Gregg Jacobson, the jurors... unseen footage of the trials, photos of the inside and outside of Dennis Wilson’s house… just crazy stuff! There's so much here, it took me 3 days to watch it all!!

Watch Here:

Thanks Robert. I'll write a review of the movie when I have time.

katie8753 said...

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there!!

beauders said...

I hope you watch it Katie. It played here for one night in a theatre, so I saw it on the big screen. I made my brother go with me, he thought it was weird. Katie why does Hope think it is any of her business that Eric is having an affair with Donna? Actually most of the characters on this soap are busybodies.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Beauders. I'll try and watch it this evening.

B&B is getting so weird I'm thinking that whoever writes that show is either doing it in their sleep or is desperately making stupid stuff up. First Li takes Finn out of the hospital, along with a hospital bed and those "beep machines" without anyone seeing her, then Sheila breaks out of jail somehow, then she goes to Li's hotel room and finds Finn alive, then she hits Li on the head and knocks her out, then she tells Li to get up and take care of Finn, then Li & Sheila become friends, then Li tells Sheila that she has to get medicine, then right outside the door she tries to call police instead of waiting until she was in her car. S-T-U-P-I-D!!

And who would have an affair with Eric?? LOL.

katie8753 said...

I wonder if Charlie thought about stealing this song from Ernest T. Bass.

starviego said...

About those 'defense' lawyers:

"But in this instance, the defendants did not even have the semblance of competent counsel. And this is another problem one has in reading Helter Skelter today: The book tries to maintain the illusion that somehow the accused were represented more than adequately. ....
...In fact, unfortunately for client Leslie Van Houten, this had been Ronald Hughes’ first criminal trial. He was not admitted to the bar until age 35. His previous job was managing a rock band. And unlike what the prosecutor writes, in his first year of practice, he wasn’t doing “damn well”. In fact, he was actually a pauper who slept on a mattress in a friend’s garage. He wore the same suit every day the first month and a half of the trial. Finally, the suit began to separate along its seams. It finally split. The court was then treated to the unseemly sight of defense counsel turning to the gallery and begging for a sport coat from a spectator so he could attend a meeting in chambers with the judge.
...But Hughes actually went even beyond this show of incompetence. More than once, he would open up lines of questioning which would benefit the prosecution, but which Bugliosi had overlooked on direct examination. The prosecutor would then use this incriminating material on his redirect questioning.
...And in fact, prior to writing his book, Bugliosi was more candid about, for example, Mr. Shinn. He actually called his performance an amicus curiae for the prosecution – that is, it was so bad it helped the prosecution."

katie8753 said...

Starviego, when you are an indigent criminal defendant and don't have any money, the court appoints counsel to you. You don't get to "pick and choose" high priced lawyers to defend you.

That's what makes this a Democracy, that you do get to have legal counsel at no charge if you can't afford it.

The Manson Family were a bunch of killer LOSERS who didn't seem to have A JOB! Ergo, they were appointed an attorney by the court!

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Katie said:
"Starviego, when you are an indigent criminal defendant and don't have any money, the court appoints counsel to you. You don't get to "pick and choose" high priced lawyers to defend you".

That's not completely true.
Manson did "pick and choose" these misfits.

Judge Keene appointed Charles Hollopeter for Manson. Hollopeter was considered an excellent lawyer (according to every source I consulted online). If you can find evidence to the contrary, please post it.

It was Manson himself, who refused to use Hollopeter and hand-picked Ronald Hughes.

As per my thread:
"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)".

Hughes failed the bar exam three times before passing and had never tried a case. It was no secret that he was a poor choice.

From there, Manson dropped Hughes 2 weeks before the trial started, and again, hand-picked Irving Kanaraek.

Kanarek had a history of being a shitty lawyer. Again, it was no secret. (I could cite examples, but it's not my job to do everyone's background research).

Manson himself called Kanarek "the worst man in town I could pick".

If Manson had simply stuck with Charles Hollopeter from the start, he would have had excellent counsel.

Moreover, if he had followed Hollopeter's instruction, one could make a pretty good argument that Manson may have been acquitted.

It's true that all of these defense lawyers pretty much sucked (except for Paul Fitzgerald) which is stated "between the lines" in my thread.

But make no mistake, Manson was given a fair shake in regards to legal counsel. It was he himself, who assembled this group of misfits.

So yeah, Manson was "appointed a lawyer by the court", but he WAS appointed a very good lawyer.

I mean, we're talking about a man who wanted to represent himself. Let that sink-in for a few minutes.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

I can't verify its veracity, but one source online stated that Manson wouldn't take Hughes "unless Hughes agreed to grow a beard".

I'm not sure if that statement is accurate, but if it is, it's another example of where Manson's head was...

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Here's another glaring example of how poor Manson's judgement was:

"Hollopeter was Manson’s attorney of record as the day’s proceedings opened. A few hours later, he was ousted at Manson’s request. The primary reason for Manson’s ire was a series of motions asking that Manson be allowed to undergo psychiatric examination, that Manson be granted a continuance of 30 days and that Manson be tried separately from the other defendants for the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others".

Hollopeter was trying to get Manson:

1) A psychiatric examination
2) A 30-day continuance
3) A separate trial from the other defendants

And Manson FIRED him for it!

As the famous quote goes... "what was he thinking???"

The above quote is from

Full article here:

Doug said...

I find it particularly shocking that not only did Kanarek defend Manson in "the trial of the century" he also represented 'Onion Field' killer Jimmy Lee Smith in another super high profile trial.

Not bad for an obstructionist, irritating, somewhat uncouth guy who, as you stated Manson himself called Kanarek "the worst man in town I could pick".

Hollopeter defended Black Panther Bunchy Carter (aka Geronimo Pratt) in tandem with Johnnie L. Cochran , Jr!


Dismissing Hollopeter was just another (among a plethora of) poor decision(s) by Manson

sunset77 said...

Doug said "he also represented 'Onion Field' killer Jimmy Lee Smith" Not many people are familiar with the "Onion Field". When I was a projectionist at a drive I ran that film in 1979. I had no idea that movie was based on a true story until years later when I got a computer.

Here's a clip--he said he would knock me on my ass

katie8753 said...

I remember when they put Midnight Cowboy at the Drive-In Theaters because it was rated "X". That made stupid teenagers like me to go see it because we could. What a RIP-OFF!!

sunset77 said...

Yeah, I remember "X" rated movies, we had several of them. At our drive in, you could barely see the screen from a sharp angle from the highway. Some nights there might be 50 or more cars pulled off on the shoulder of the road. They'd pull on and off the road and "fight" for the best spots, nearly causing accidents. We had to call the police I think twice.

One film I remember was "Candy Goes to Hollywood". It featured Carol Connors. She appeared on "The Gong Show" a number of times, first as a contestant and later a "hostess". In the film, they did a "spoof" of "The Gong Show". They had a contest and hired the winner of the "Farrah Fawcett lookalike contest" Rhonda Jo Petty. She looked nearly identical to Farrah Fawcett. Her "talent" in the film was shooting ping pong balls out of her lady parts while some guy caught them in his mouth. Only Hollywood could come up with something like that. Rhonda Jo Petty

Another film I remember from that time that was very "controversial" was "Pretty Baby" with Brooke Shields. She appeared nude in that film for a few seconds, she was 12 years old. Like a number of other films, I had no idea at the time that film was based on a true story. Prostitution was going to banned in New Orleans in the early 1900's, a photographer wanted to photograph the women at a brothel before it closed. I don't remember his name, but at one time you could find some of the photos he took of the women online. There was a 12 year old girl that worked at that brothel. There was a "stink" about that movie, people wanted to arrest the producers for child pornography, but I don't think they ever did. Brooke Shields was born in 1965, I was born in 1961. I think I was 16 when I saw that film, she was 12, I remember kind of feeling sorry for her being used like that. Even watching this clip now, from right before she was nude, kind of gives me the creeps--Pretty Baby

katie8753 said...

Yeah I remember all those cars on the shoulder of the road trying to watch the movie for free. Back then, you could get into the drive in for $1/carload. It was easy to watch "X" rated movies because no one cared how old you were. Just drive up, hang that speaker on the window and you're all set! But first, a visit to the concession stand for the best popcorn, hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, cotton candy and soda in town!!

I never saw Pretty Baby but I agree, that looks totally creepy to me.

beauders said...

Did anyone watch the Process documentary?

Doug said...

Candy Goes to Hollywood also starred a pre-music fame Wendy O Williams

katie8753 said...

Beauders I forgot about that. I'll try and watch it today.

starviego said...

beauders said...
Did anyone watch the Process documentary?

I watched most of it, but it didn't seem to have much relevance to the Manson story.

beauders said...

Supposedly, the Process influenced Manson, but no the documentary is about the Process not Manson. I am assuming most of us have read Ed Sanders view on the Process and some of us have read Maury Terry's view, now compare that to this documentary. Where is the truth? Check out Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, this is where the Process really landed.

beauders said...

Katie, did Li meet a firey end a while back? There has been no continuation.

katie8753 said...

Beauders I don't know who is putting this soap opera together but he/she/it (I think it's a she because men never talk like that) must be experiencing LSD blackouts.

We go from Li driving into a "body of water" and catching on fire (which would have put the fire out), to Eric getting busted at the only restaurant in Los Angeles in some kind of "bungalow" in bed with Donna.

I looked on the B&B chatroom to see what might have happened to Li, and there's no real answer. So I guess we'll have to (a) keep watching or (b) stop watching this nonsense.

katie8753 said...

p.s. I tried to watch the Process documentary, but it was too creepy and I stopped. I don't like that kind of stuff.

beauders said...

Wow Katie how do you stand Tate/LaBianca,? It's all creepy, especially 'creepy crawling,' even the Family knew that was creepy.