One visit with a lawyer would have collapsed the case against Lee Harvey Oswald. The criminality of the FBI and the Dallas Police would have been exposed. They couldn't allow it. But consider that Fritz got an attorney for Ruby immediately: Tom Howard. FRITZ WAS SEEN CONFERRING WITH HOWARD ON SATURDAY EVENING.
So, why didn't Fritz get a lawyer for Oswald? And why didn't Fritz get a cabana suit for Oswald as he did for Ruby? But, I digress.
The common lore is that Oswald refused an attorney because he wanted John Abt, but what do we really know about the truth of that? We know that Oswald complained publicly several times about not having an attorney, and to me, he sounded really irate, really upset about it. And when he had a chance to speak to the public at the Midnight Press Conference, he asked for someone to come forward to give him legal assistance. He didn't ask for someone to contact John Abt. He just asked for legal assistance.
So, what do we have directly from Oswald about John Abt?
What do we have to substantiate the common lore that he rejected legal assistance, that he said no to having a local criminal defense attorney?
Well, we don't have anything from Oswald directly because he never mentioned it in public. I found one reference to it in the Fritz Notes, the 4th Fritz Note. This note was not dated, but it had to be an interrogation on Saturday, November 23. So, let's consider the significance of it. It says, "Desires to speak to Mr. Abt." Wait a second; that doesn't even establish that Oswald wanted Abt to defend him. It doesn't say, "Desires Mr. Abt to represent him."
And since Abt isn't mentioned prior to that, we have to presume that Oswald didn't bring him up prior to that. Why? Because Fritz would have written it down prior to that. And that means that on Friday night, at the Midnight Press Conference, Oswald hadn't, to that point, said a word to Dallas Police about Abt. So, when he gave the impassioned request for legal assistance, it existed in a vacuum. It means he must have complained about not having a lawyer in a vacuum.
And that brings us to the testimony of Attorney H. Louis Nichols, who did not practice criminal law but was the head of the Dallas Bar Association. He visited Oswald on Saturday afternoon and said that Oswald rejected Nichols' offer to get him an attorney. But, consider the following facts:
1. Nichols claimed that he took no notes. Think about that a second. He's an attorney, and he didn't bring a pencil and paper to write anything down. It didn't occur to him to do that.
2. When, Oswald rejected a lawyer from Nichols, did Nichols weigh upon him about the importance of having an attorney, that holding out for a lawyer in New York whom he didn't know and had never had contact with, was not a prudent thing to do? Did he impress upon him that he could get a local Texas lawyer and that Abt could join the case afterwards, so there was no reason to reject immediate help?
3. And even though Nichols was not a criminal defense lawyer, he was a lawyer. And since he was there, and supposedly on Oswald's behalf, did he make any attempt to garner any information from him about the charges? He did mention that Oswald said that he wanted a lawyer who believed in his innocence, which is a tacit way of claiming innocence. But, would it have killed Nichols to solicit information from Oswald about what happened? Doesn't it seem like he should have started by asking, "Do you want to tell me what happened?" And again, I realize that he wasn't a criminal defense attorney, but he was an attorney, and presumably, he was an intelligent man. If he was going to go there at all, why wouldn't he act lawyerly? Why wouldn't he think like a lawyer? Why would he be so restricted in his interaction, as to say, "Do you want me to get you a lawyer or not?" It would be one thing if he wasn't a lawyer at all, but he was a lawyer. And he certainly had to know that Oswald desperately needed a lawyer. He certainly was knowledgeable enough to tell Oswald that he was making a grave mistake by turning down his offer to get him a lawyer. And yet, he didn't. According to him, Oswald said no thanks, and he said fine.
Look: if it was a medical emergency, say a heart attack, and the only doctor around was an orthopedist, he would do the best he could, even though he wasn't a cardiologist, right? Well, Nichols was a lawyer, and he should have done the best he could, and he should have acted lawyerly to Oswald. For instance, upon seeing, he should have asked him how he was. Nichols said that he looked alright, that he had a scratch or bruise over one eye but otherwise seemed OK. But, Nichols was a lawyer, so why wouldn't he ask Oswald about it? And the fact was that Oswald had a scratch over one eye, but the other eye had major swelling. The whole supraorbital area was swollen.
So, Nichols' minimizing of Oswald's injuries wasn't legit either. He sounded more like a lawyer for the Dallas Police.
Nichols was in the Army during WW2, and he was in the Army Reserve in 1963, holding the rank of Colonel.
Do you know how long Nichols spent with Oswald? Two minutes. The man was being accused of murdering the President of the United States and a police officer, and this lawyer excused himself after two minutes.
So, this attorney was also a Colonel in the U.S. Army. When he spoke to the press, Chief Curry stood right behind him.
It was just the night before that Oswald pleaded with the world to give him legal assistance. So, when a lawyer finally walked into his cell offering to get him legal assistance, did Oswald actually say no? And this Nichols said that he received multiple inquiries from defense lawyers in Dallas concerned about Oswald's legal rights and his need for an attorney. But, doesn't it seem likely that one or more of them would have called the DPD about it? Or, just gone there and said: I'm a criminal defense attorney, and I am offering my services to Oswald.
So, how many lawyers did call the DPD? I suggest that Nichols' appearance was in response to Oswald's public appeal and that it was instigated by the DPD itself. I think they allowed Nichols to see Oswald on the stipulation that he not discuss the case with him. I find it very strange that a lawyer, supposedly concerned with the legal rights of an accused suspect, would not discuss the case with him at all. There you see Curry standing behind Nichols. So, was it really Curry who called him?
P.S. I'm not certain they let him see Oswald. And that's because I find it hard to believe that Oswald was stupid enough to be in the situation he was in and actually turn down help from an attorney. Would you? Furthermore, you would think that just from the standpoint of having an attorney to come visit him who was not presumptive of his guilt, who was open to listening to his side of the story with an open mind, his account of what happened that day, would appeal to him greatly. You would think that Oswald would be dying to be heard, especially since his interrogators weren't hearing him except with tainted, closed minds. So, I have to wonder if Nichols ever really saw Oswald at all, or if he saw someone else, an Oswald double.