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Percy Foreman

Mouthpiece or Silencer?

 
Percy Foreman was a prominent Houston criminal attorney who represented James Earl Ray. While Ray was awaiting trial for killing Martin Luther King, Foreman showed up unannounced at the prison and convinced the accused assassin to drop his lawyers in favor of him.  Foreman convinced him that his attorneys were not adequate for a trial of that magnitude, and that he risked the electric chair if he did not retain him instead.

Despite Foreman’s highly unethical approach, Ray agreed to change attorneys.  Foreman assured Ray that there was no case against him, and that he would not only save him from the electric chair, but prove him innocent.  However, on the eve of the trial, Foreman informed the accused assassin that he would be found guilty and sentenced to death if he did not agree to a plea-bargain.  Terrified and left without any other options, Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced by the Court to ninety-nine years in jail.

But James Earl Ray wasn’t the only client tied to political assassination represented by Mr. Foreman.  After he was found guiltyand sentenced to death, Jack Ruby fired his attorneys and hired Percy Foreman.  However, Foreman dropped the case four days later, claiming too much interference from Ruby’s family.

Foreman also represented Charles Harrelson (photo right), a hired assassin convicted of killing a federal judge in San Antonio with a high-powered rifle.  At the time of his arrest, Harrelson confessed to shooting President Kennedy, only to later recant his statement.  But despite his obvious talents with a high-powered rifle, federal authorities totally dismissed Harrelson’s admission of guilt. However, several assassination researchers immediately noticed a uncanny resemblance between Harrelson and the tall tramp arrested in Dealey Plaza.

At an earlier murder trial, Foreman used his considerable talents to win acquittal for Harrelson. One of the witnesses Foreman called was Joe Campisi, the number two man in Carlos Marcello’s Dallas organization.  Campisi dined with Jack Ruby the night before Kennedy’s assassination, and was Ruby’s first visitor in jail after his arrest for killing Oswald.

Since Foreman was a high-profile lawyer, his involvement in these cases might at first seem logical.  But on further examination, all three of these cases share a common thread.  By pleading guilty, Ray never got to tell his story in a courtroom.  Ruby intimated that he could not tell the truth as long as he was in custody in Dallas.  Harrelson implicated himself in the Kennedy assassination, only to deny it later.  Was it Foreman’s assignment to see that these people kept quiet? If so, who was he working for?

In 1975, Foreman was indicted by a federal grand jury for obstruction of justice.  Also indicted in this case were Nelson Bunker Hunt and W. Herbert Hunt, the sons of the Dallas oil man H. L. Hunt.  The grand jury charged that the Hunt brothers paid the attorney $100,000 to insure that Foreman’s clients (Rothermel & Curington) would not testify against them.  The two men, allegedly employed by the Hunt to conduct illegal wiretaps, were offered money by Foreman to accept a jail term rather than testify the principals involved in the case.  Naturally, the distinguished attorney never told his clients that he was really working for the Hunts.

As the trial was about to begin, Foreman claimed that he was too ill to continue.  After Senator James O.  Eastland made several inquiries with the Justice Department, the defendants, including Nelson Hunt, were allowed to plead no contest to a lesser charge and pay a fine.  The New York Times reported that great political pressure was brought in Washington to keep the Hunts from going to trial, and that Eastland, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had denied that he had received $50,000 from the Hunts for his lobbying efforts.
 

 Jerry McLeer

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