Friday, August 10, 2012

"During Merrick's time on the bench, he signed the search warrant to gain access to the Spahn Ranch, the notorious home of the Manson family. And with 50 deputies guarding his courtroom, Merrick presided over the preliminary hearing of Manson family member Susan Atkins, who was charged in the murder of Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman".

John J. Merrick dies at 93; longtime Malibu judge, and civic leader. Merrick had a role in Manson family cases and presided over celebrity weddings. A Malibu resident since the 1940s, he was also a local historian.
By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times - August 9, 2012, 6:00 a.m.

When Beverly Hills attorney John J. Merrick was elected judge of the Malibu Judicial District in 1964, it was considered only a part-time job: The population of the area stretching from the ocean to Calabasas didn't warrant a full-time municipal judge.

While continuing to maintain his law practice, Merrick heard cases on Mondays in a small courthouse in Calabasas that doubled as a dance hall at night. He spent the remaining four weekdays in the landmark 1930s-era Malibu courthouse on Pacific Coast Highway.

But he could also be assigned to hear municipal court cases in such far-flung locales as Glendale, Indio, Lancaster and Ventura.

"I was known as 'Have Robe, Will Travel,' " he recalled in a 1986 Times interview.

By the time the judicial district's population exceeded the required 40,000 in 1973 and Merrick became the first judge of the newly established municipal court in Malibu, he was handling more than 20,000 cases a year. He remained on the bench in Malibu until he retired in 1986.

Merrick, a Malibu resident since the 1940s and a local historian and civic leader, died of pneumonia July 31 at his home in Point Dume, said his son Brian. He was 93.

When Merrick retired after nearly 22 years as the judge in Malibu, Richard Brand, a court commissioner who had worked with him for 12 years, told The Times: "We are losing an institution."

"Most people say I am a very fair judge," Merrick told The Times in 1986. "I try to see both sides, exercise some compassion and punish those who need it."

During Merrick's time on the bench, he signed the search warrant to gain access to the Spahn Ranch, the notorious home of the Manson family. And with 50 deputies guarding his courtroom, Merrick presided over the preliminary hearing of Manson family member Susan Atkins, who was charged in the murder of Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman.

Merrick occasionally took the heat for some of his courtroom decisions.

When a Topanga Canyon nudist club called Elysium opened in the 1960s and a number of people were arrested on nudity charges under a 30-year-old county ordinance, Merrick declared the ordinance unconstitutional.

The decision, which was upheld by the state Court of Appeal, received wide publicity.

"Despite the fact that I am a deeply religious individual who attends Mass daily," Merrick told The Times in 1986, "I was described as a pervert and received a lot of hate mail."

As the judge in a world-famous show business enclave, Merrick presided over a number of celebrity weddings, including the high-profile 1985 wedding of pop singer Madonna and actor Sean Penn on a Point Dume promontory.

"There were eight helicopters circling overhead with guys hanging out the doors filming; it was like 'Apocalypse Now,' " Merrick recalled in the 1986 Times interview. "The three of us knew pretty much what we were doing. But everybody else couldn't hear over the noise."

As a judge, Merrick was known for his sense of humor. "There are many times when you have very tense people before you, and you can break that tension with a bit of humor," he told The Times in 1969.

Those who passed through his courtroom occasionally provided their own unintentionally humorous moments.  "I had a busboy in for being drunk," Merrick recalled. "I explained the various pleas to him and then asked him how he pleaded. He answered, 'Very guilty, your honor.' "  Another time, Merrick asked a defendant if he was employed.  "Yes, sir," the defendant replied, "I'm self-unemployed."
Submitted by Kimchi!  Thanks Kimchi!


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Thanks Kimchi.

Great breaking news!

The guy made 93... pretty damn good!

katie8753 said...

I wonder why he needed 50 deputies guarding his courtroom?

katie8753 said...

There was (and I guess still is) a theory floating around that the police were protecting Charlie from arrest prior to the August raid on Spahn's Ranch because they were hoping he'd kill the Panthers.

I wonder if this judge is considered part of that theory since he's the one who signed the warrant.

Kimchi said...

Judge Merrick signed the warrants because he was head of Malibu Court which had jursidiction over the Spahn Ranch area...

Kimchi said...

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff Station patroled the Spahn Ranch area and still does as far as I know.

katie8753 said...

Hi Kimchi! Thanks!

alice said...

Interesting article by Paul Watkins daughter in my newspaper today:


alice said...

buggered up the link dammit. Here it is again:

katie8753 said...

Thanks Alice for another great link!

Excerpt from this article:

"She called me once, my mother, when I was in college. She'd just slit her wrists with a steak knife and was, in her mind, dying. "I just want to say goodbye," she said. Then, "I miss your dad."

"Well, you're not going to join him," I said. "If you kill yourself, you're going to hell, right?"

Sorrow had fatigued us, and we were falling back on a lazy cosmology neither of us believed in.

"Then I'll see him there," she said.

By this point in my life my mother had to work to shock me, but this did it. "You think Dad's in hell?"

She laughed at my naivety. "Sweetheart, he was Charles Manson's number one procurer of young girls."

This young lady is very angry. I can't say as I blame her. She feels orphaned.

She says that Clem set Paul's car on fire while he slept in it right before he was supposed to testify against Manson. If this is true, I'm angry that they ever let him out of prison.

I wonder if he ever apologized to him, since he was so "rehabilitated and all".

katie8753 said...

Hey Venus. I just e-mailed you. I need your opinion on something. :)

leary7 said...

holy crap, not to chance the subject, but I have often lamented on this board about someone filing a civil suit on behalf of Shorty...well I was over on the 'truth on TLB' site and they had a newspaper clip about Shorty's first wife having filed a 1.5 million suit against CM and two others on behalf of her daughter with Shorty. But that is all they had, just the article that the suit had been filed. Anyone here know how to research what became of it....Mr. Dill???

Kimchi said...

Hi Katie -

Thanks Alice, very nice find!

Leary - so far all I can find is the newspaper article:,5776319

Seems everyone sued him, Sebring Itnl, La Biancas, Frykowski, etc. etc..

But I'll keep looking..

leary7 said...

muchos garcia must have been dismissed since if there was a judgement against Manson we would have surely read about it. The mistake might have been filing against Manson, she should have filed against Spahn and the police who screwed up the raid and put a bullseye on Shorty's back.

Kimchi said...

Personally, I think it was granted...but getting blood out of a turnip is another thing...

Hopefully she sued Grogan, and Davis too... too bad about Tex as he still hasn't been charged with that crime (yet.....)

I was watching a video of Grogan's release (news) and one of his stipulations was that he had no contact with any former, present or future Family members...

Kimchi said...

Katie said:

"""I wonder why he needed 50 deputies guarding his courtroom?"""

A show of force and unity...why did 200 show up for this?

katie8753 said...

Thanks Kimchi.

It looks like Mrs. Shea sued Manson, Davis & Grogan. I wish we knew the outcome. Should Steve Grogan a/k/a Adam Gabriel be sharing some of strummin' money??

Or if Bruce is paroled this time should he work overtime at the corner gas station cleaning the men's restroom to pay his debts? LOL.

katie8753 said...

Hi Leary. I don't know how much good it would have done to sue Spahn's Ranch. I don't think ole George had a lot of money, and I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that he didn't carry liability insurance.

katie8753 said...

I wonder what other celebrity weddings he presided over....LOL.

Kimchi said...

I don't think Ol' George had any money either... what was he paying the ranch hands - room, board and a pack of cigarettes a day? Then Juanita said the money she "donated" went to paying taxes on the ranch so she felt good helping old George out...

katie8753 said...

Is anyone interested??

leary7 said...

yeah, George was broke. But the ranch had to be worth something. And in terms of culpability it seems to me that George and Ruby, who ran the ranch for him, were directly responsible for Shorty's demise simply on the basis of having let the Family reside there knowing all the guns and car thefts etc.
And as I have said before obviously the purpose of a civil suit is to collect damages but there is also the benifit of a civil trial having allot more leeway than a criminal trial so possibly some of the mysteries surrounding Shorty's death and others could have been cleared up.
I am just fascinated that Shorty's first wife did in fact file suit and would love to know more about it. Interesting, Kimchi, that you think it might have been granted. I'll take that bet. For some reason I am convinced if someone had won a judgement against Manson we would know about it.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...


If I remember correctly, you're in Great Britain no?

Tell us a bit about the "Olympic Experience"!!!!

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Sorry folks...

I've been suffering with some type of miserable flu, sore throat, body ache, sinus misery for 48 hours.
Consequently, I haven't been able to stay on-top of the conversation (as, I usually do).

If anyone said anything amazing... much appreciated!!! LOLOL

MrPoirot said...

Clem stated in a parole hearing that during the murder of Shorty that the car rolled forward into a ditch and he had to jump over the sear to put the car in park.

When I read that I was finally convinced that Barbara Hoyt was mistaken about hearing Shorty killed behind the ranch at 10 pm.

Clem stated he buried Shorty at night. Shorty had to have remained in the bushes off the road all day. Clem would have to have moved a rigormotised body down the cliff, It had to be gruesome. Others must have helped move the car out the ditch. There is a lot never revealed about the clumsy murder of Shorty,

Kimchi said...

Leary said:

--Interesting, Kimchi, that you think it might have been granted. I'll take that bet. For some reason I am convinced if someone had won a judgement against Manson we would know about it.--

Just because I can't find it in the newspaper archives or the law websites doesn't mean it wasn't granted.

We all know it's less burdon to prove guilt in a civil suit than a criminal case--

One good example is Goldman v. Simpson...Simpson found not guilty in the criminal case, but the Goldmans won hand over fist in the civil judgement...and they did their best to collect...and they did, and will continue to...loved it.

MrPoirot said...

I have no proof but I suspect that it was the efforts of Shorty's wife that got the law to make an early release deal with Clem if he told where Shorty was buried.

Kimchi said...

I should have added above -

It's just my opinion about the outcome of the civil suit..

Lynyrd I hope you feel better...I had it and it lingered for a month.

Mr. P -

I sent Lynyrd a link yesterday to a video regarding Clem's release and what Mr. Kaye said Clem's release...I don't remember him mentioning Mrs. Shea..

MrPoirot said...

Kinchi did Kay goto Clem or vice versa? I'm still amazed they ever let Clem loose. He was a pretty scary dude in the Manson73 flick.

Kimchi said...

No, I don't think Clem went to Kay - he contacted someone else and said he would provide the burial site...I'll try and find that video link again and post it.

Kimchi said...

OK, here it is - It was Judge Katz he contacted to get out...

All four of those "special reports" are good...

Kimchi said...

Leary -

Unless we know where the suit was filed and we would have to contact the court directly -- we may not be able to find out what the outcome was--

"The online Civil Party Name Search contains General Jurisdiction (Civil, Probate, Family Law) cases records from 1983 to the present, Limited Jurisdiction Civil case records from 1991 to present and Small Claims case records from 1992 to present. Some case information prior to these dates is available, but the data may be incomplete. All case information prior to these dates may be obtained in person by contacting the filing court location. "

katie8753 said...

Thanks for that link Kimchi. Every time I see Doris speak, I can't help but feel so sorry for her that not only did she lose her daughter to senseless, brutal murder, but she had to keep up with these people and try to keep them locked up.

I'm sure she would much rather have been enjoying her grandson.

Kimchi said...

Yeah Katie, those are good videos - I've only seen bits and pieces of them, but that is the whole segment.

I looked at your Craigslist link..

LVH? Wonder how many calls they got on that...

katie8753 said...

I don't know who that is that's selling the LVH pic, but I can't believe that he or she put their phone number on there. Talk about crank calls. LOL.

"Another new never been seen pic of Van Houten on visitin' day...and it's a Polaroid to boot."


Kimchi said...

Never know, someone might pay for it..

and yer right, not smart for listing a phone number...

Kimchi said...

Sit tight - here we go!

Lynyrd, get off the Bong...LOL

katie8753 said...

Well the Col is wrong yet again. Lynyrd doesn't even smoke pot.

I used to think the Col was clever and sadly he's rather nebulous.

So if one doesn't like the book by Statman that makes one a homophobe? What if Statman was hetero and one didn't like the book? Would that make one a "heterophobe"? Can't one just have an opinion based on the content?

I thought we had given this subject a proper burial. Why keep unearthing rotting subjects?

Just let the dead sleep in peace.

Kimchi said...

Katie don't take it so literal.. ((Please))

Lynyrd got 3rd nod...better than no nod...LOL

katie8753 said...

Don't worry Kimchi, I'm not. It's already off my radar. LOL.

MrPoirot said...

Interesting comment by Brian Davis on his show about the Garretson interview how he mixes in fantasy with truth. I was really hoping he'd challenge Garretson about that third eye on the baby.

katie8753 said...

Mr. P., the interview with Garretson was just one interview.

If you're interested in a re-interview with Garretson, please let Brian know. I'm sure he will try to accomodate you.

Brian & LC, have a nice and safe vacation. Hurry back!!! :)

alice said...

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...
Alice, If I remember correctly, you're in Great Britain no? Tell us a bit about the "Olympic Experience"!!!!

Well remembered! Actually it's been great. We Brits are a deeply cynical lot and not much given to displays of patriotic fervour so we expected the worse. But Danny Boyle's opening ceremony was so completely bonkers and brilliant (we thought it was going to be rather Am Dram) that we all got swept up in it. And coming 3rd in the medals table was an added bonus.

Plus, for me, there were some absolutely outstanding performances that really emphasised what a fantastic, multicultural country this is. Even our right wing press (the sort that spend every day complaining about asylum seekers and scaremongering about Islamic fundamentalists) were suddenly celebrating Mo Farah - a devout muslim who came to the UK aged 8 from Somalia as a refugee – winning gold both 5K and 10K.

Of course the appalling closing ceremony suddenly restored my Twitter feed to its usual state of general grumpiness which was a bit of a relief. I'm not used to everyone being enthusiastic and happy all the time!

katie8753 said...

Thanks Alice! I heard today that The Spice Girls reunited for the finale. And I missed it!!

I LOVE The Spice Girls.

Wahhhh !!!

alice said...

They did indeed - performing on the top of London cabs. Am sure it'll be on YouTube at some point!

katie8753 said...

I've already tried to find it on You Tube and it's been removed by the Olympic Committee.

I'll keep trying. Maybe the Committee will miss one. LOL.

Patty is Dead said...

OMG Katie, we have The Spice Girls in common. Lemme tell you want I want, what I really really want!

katie8753 said...

Patty I've got that CD and when that song comes on in my car I turn it way up and sing along really loud. Much to the annoyance of adjacent driver's I'm sure. LOL.

I LOVE that song.

Patty is Dead said...

check it out - I found it...

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Thanks Alice!

But, what I meant specifically was (LOL):

What was it like hosting the Olympics, day to day, at ground-level outside the stadium?

I mean...

Were the pubs, streets, restaurants, and shopping malls filled with international visitors?

Was it one big party in the streets like Mardi Gras?

Did you see lots of famous people?

Were the athletes themselves openly visible in the stores, restaurants, etc?

Did you personally meet any athletes?

Did it leave a huge mess to clean-up afterwards, like Woodstock? LOL

Was the traffic and parking impossible?

Were there a gazillion non-english speaking folks walking around lost... asking for help and directions?

Did the price of food and gas sky-rocket for the week?

Did local merchants gouge prices?

Did you have a harder time getting to work?

Was it one big cluster-f#ck?

Music and bonfires in the street?

Was there one country in particular, whose folks/athletes behaved badly... and made themselves known as complete pains in the asses, by the time they left?
Is there a certain country of folks, that you never want to see in Britain again?! LOL

Were the tickets reasonably priced if you wanted to attend... or was it priced for royalty only?

Did Britain make any money... or was it a financial bust?

Was there a shortage of anything for the week?
Toilet paper?

Were there tons of cheesy souvenir peddlers everywhere?

What was the most popular beer among foreigners?
Did it mirror local taste?

What kind of food did the visitors primarily consume?

That's the kind of stuff I was wondering about... not so much the things we all observed on television.
Ya know... the "inside scoop" stuff!
Inquiring minds wanna know!

I already saw the "opening ceremony" and "medals table" crap! LOLOL

I wanna hear the inside scoop which can only be told, by someone (like you) who was actually there!
The "behind the scenes" stuff, gawt-dammit! LOLOL

(I'll give you a couple hours to respond, since you're across the Atlantic) LOL

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Hi Patty.

I'm not well-versed on the "Spice Girls"... so, I'll gladly sit this one out! LOL

: )

leary7 said...

oh crap, the Spice Girls have hijacked the thread. Please ladies, can we get back to murder and mayhem.

just kidding. I am an Anglophile at heart, even for terrible music. Hey Lynyrd, read Chad Finn's stuff on the Globe sports page. He's got a perspective you will probably like.

leary7 said...

I mean for the Olympics and London. He is over there.

leary7 said...

oh yeah, I still can't log in over on the Col's. I type in those two words and get the same message everytime...'internal error'. i've even done the 'contact for help' button but never recieved a reply.
Probably for the best. I think the Col is off his game. HIs last couple of posts have not been sharp or biting. Kinda mamby pamby even. Don't tell him I said so.

leary7 said...

wait. i just saw an update on the COl's site where he attacks Debra and her sidekick Robin again. He's got the machete out.

katie8753 said...

Thanks Patty. That was good, but I like the old Spice Girls, dancing and singing together. They were unbeatable at the time....

They all still look good though. :)

katie8753 said...

I'm glad the girls reunited for this event. It's nice to see "Posh" Spice showing that she has a lot more talent than being a wife and mother to a "philandering" sports guy. (Not sure what sport he plays. Something about kicking a ball around, LOL)

She has a raw musical talent that should not have been discarded. As do all the other girls. :)

katie8753 said...

>>>Leary said: wait. i just saw an update on the COl's site where he attacks Debra and her sidekick Robin again. He's got the machete out.>>>

Again? And what else is new? Yawn. S.O.S.D.D.

katie8753 said...

The Col used to be very informative, interesting and mind-boggling funny.

Marliese brought up the year he did the prelude to the murders, stating day by day what everyone was involved in prior to the murders.

That was fascinating to read. Great stuff.

Now he for some reason has devolved into hating Debra Tate, and it really seems to have impuned his creativity. She's turning into (no pun intended) his "white whale".

I hope he doesn't continue this because we all know what happened to Ahab.

I wish he would just let this Debra stuff go, and focus back on the case. I think a lot of other people from the old days wish that too.

MrPoirot said...

does anybody have a link to a map where Devils Canyon is? Also, is it a state park or federal land or on private land? This is where Stephanie Scgram says the Family camped after the murders and before Barker ranch.

katie8753 said...

And now if you'll all excuse me, I'm going to watch a good movie I rented starring Elizabeth Olsen, the talented young star of Marcy Martha May Marlene....


katie8753 said...

Hi Bobby!

It looks like a good movie. I didn't get to finish watching it last caught up in phone calls. Will finish tonight. :)