The lawyer defending Charles Manson has died at the age of 100. Irving Kanarek (pictured above 1970) defended the cult murderer Manson, whose macabre murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others caused international headlines and intrigue.
The national spotlight centered on Kanarek made its disruptive circus of court tactics almost as intriguing as its bizarre clients. He also defended Jimmy Smith, whose murder of a police officer was told in the Joseph Wambaugh bestseller "The Onion Field". The Manson murders and the so-called Manson family were described in Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's world's best-selling book about the murders, "Helter Skelter" (see Bugliosi's description by Kanarek below).
These murders were among the most notorious crimes of the 1960s, and the national limelight focused on their trials made Kanarek's disruptive and theatrical court tactics almost as intriguing as his bizarre clients.
Manson's family of strange young drifters has been described as intrigued, along with Smith, the little thief who could barely operate the pistol he carried.
For Kanarek, the trials were the culmination of three decades of training devoted to a more routine number of personal injuries and claims for damages. The law wasn't even his first calling. He had been an aerospace engineer for North American aviation but had lost his Air Force security clearance and job after being falsely accused of communist associations in the 1950s. He erased his name, but the experience had tainted him in science.
His first major case, leading to the Onion Field murders, occurred on a March night in Los Angeles in 1963 with a routine traffic disruption due to a broken taillight on a car with Smith and a friend. As two officers approached, Mr. Smith and Mr. Powell drew guns, disarmed the officers, and drove them 90 miles north to a remote onion farm near Bakersfield, California.
It was interesting during the long-running Manson Trial that, while Kanarek was known for his tactics, every single attorney serving in the Tate LaBianca trial, including Bugliosi, was at one point quoted or threatened with the court's contempt Operations.
Bugliosi on Kanarek in the Manson trial
Although little known elsewhere, Kanarek was a legend in the Los Angeles Courts. The attorney's obstructive tactics had led a number of judges to openly reprimand him from the bank. Kanarek stories were so common, and usually incredible, that they seemed fictional when they were actually facts.
For example, Prosecutor Burton Katz recalled that Kanarek once objected to a prosecutor's witness giving his own name on the grounds that it was "hearsay" after hearing his name from his mother.
In the case of People vs. Goodman had extended a simple case of theft to Kanarek, which should have lasted a few hours or at most a day, to three months. The amount stolen: $ 100. The cost to taxpayers: $ 130,212.
In the case of People vs. Smith and Powell spent twelve and a half months pre-trial filing Kanarek. After another two months of trying to select a jury, Kanarek's own client disgusted him. A year and a half after Irving Kanarek came up with the case, the jury had not been selected and not a single witness had been called.
In the case of People vs. Bronson, Supreme Court Justice Raymond Roberts told Kanarek:
“I do my best to see that Mr. Bronson gets a fair trial despite you. I have never seen such obviously stupid, ill-advised questions from a witness. Are you paid by the word or by the hour that you can use up the time of judgment? You are the most obstructive man I have ever met. "
Outside of the presence of the jury, Judge Roberts defined Kanarek's approach as follows:
“You need an infinite amount of time to check the smallest, least important details. They roam back and forth with no chronology of events, completely confusing everyone in the courtroom, to the utter frustration of the jury, witnesses and the judge. "
After examining the minutes, the appellate court found that the judge's remarks were not detrimental, but were substantiated by the minutes of the trial.