Trial Testimony



Case No. 97242-4 T.D.



PROCEEDINGS November 30th, 1999

Before the Honorable James E. Swearengen, Division 4, Judge presiding.

James Earl Ray

THE COURT: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. I see you scratching on the door, ready to go. All right. Would you please call your first witness, Mr. Pepper.

MR. PEPPER: Yes, Your Honor. Your Honor, plaintiffs call Mr. Jack Kershaw.

JACK KERSHAW, Having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:


Q. Morning, Mr. Kershaw.

A. Good morning.

Q. Thank you for joining us this morning. I know you had some medical problems, and it's -- it's an effort on your part and we're grateful to you.

A. One eye's better than none.

Q. Would you please state for the record your full name and address.

A. Jack Kershaw, K E R S H A W, Nashville, Tennessee, member of the Nashville Bar. The street address is [REDACTED].

Q. Mr. Kershaw, how long have you been a practicing attorney?

A. Since '61.

Q. And have you practiced throughout that period of time in the State of Tennessee?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you lived in Nashville throughout that period of time?

A. Yes.

Q. And did you at one time come to represent James Earl Ray?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. When did you begin to represent Mr. Ray?

A. About the spring of '77 on the occasion of the Congressional

Committee investigation of his case.

Q. And in the course of that representation of Mr. Ray, did you consult with him many times?

A. Oh, frequently.

Q. And at one point in time were you asked -- not by Mr. Ray but by someone else -- to have a meeting with an author, William Bradford Huie?

A. That would have been in the summer of '77, my best recollection. I received a call from some official at Thomas Nelson Publishing Company that William Bradford Huie, a writer for Look Magazine, would like to meet with me about an unrevealed question. And I told him I'd be glad to. And I appeared at the conference room at the publishing company in due course and met with Mr. Huie.

Q. And at that time that you met with Author Huie, you were representing James Earl Ray?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. And he was aware of that?

A. Oh, yes.

Q. Now, flashing back a bit, had Author Huie published articles on this case prior to your meeting with him?

A. Yes. Not too long after the event, Mr. Huie published two or three stories for Look Magazine in which he promised to reveal the true assassin of Martin Luther King. His fourth article did a turn about. Instead of revealing a conspiracy and the identity of a mysterious assassin, he laid it all on James Earl Ray.

Q. Which he had not done in his -- in his previous articles?

A. It was an absolute change of face. It was a flip-flop.

Q. Now, did you go to the Nelson Publishing Company in Nashville and meet with Mr. Huie?

A. Yes.

Q. And where did you meet with him in that publishing company?

A. In the conference room of the publishing company.

Q. And who was present at that meeting?

A. I, of course, and Mr. Huie, and Mr. Huie was accompanied by a couple of young men who I did not recognize and a couple other young men who were obviously junior vice president or something or other of the Thomas Nelson Publishing Company.

Q. But the people who you did not recognize with Mr. Huie at that meeting, did they identify themselves to you?

A. No.

Q. They didn't?

A. No.

Q. Is that unusual to participate in a meeting and others there do not identify

themselves to you?

A. Well, the whole thing was unusual without any proper procedure.

Q. And what took place at that meeting? What was the purpose of Mr. Huie requesting

you to meet with him?

A. He offered a sum of money for James Earl Ray's story, quote, unquote. And I asked him, what story did he want? That Mr. Ray was telling his story every week before the Congressional Committee. And Mr. Huie informed me that the story he referred to was how he killed by himself -- he and he alone killed -- shot and killed Martin Luther King.

Q. So this writer, William Bradford Huie, wanted a story -- the story from James Earl Ray of how he, acting alone, killed Martin Luther King?

A. That's right.

Q. And he was prepared to pay a sum of money for that story?

A. Yes. He offered $25,000 for that story. And I immediately asked him, what

good is the money going to do this man? He's in the penitentiary. And Mr. Huie said, well, we'll get him on pardon immediately.

Q. So Mr. Ray would tell the story, admit his guilt, he would be given a sum of money and he would be given a pardon?

A. That was Mr. Huie's message to me.

Q. How did Mr. Huie -- did he indicate at all how he was going to arrange this


A. Well, I asked him a little bit about that, and he never revealed his source of influence with the governor.

Q. But he seemed confident he could arrange a pardon?

A. Oh, yes, he was very confident. I suggested that he arrange the pardon before the story, but he didn't agree to that.

Q. That didn't go over very well. Of course, Mr. Ray was on detainer from the

State of Missouri at the time. Did he say he could arrange a pardon from the State of Missouri as well?

A. That subject didn't come up. One pardon presumably would be enough.

Q. I see. And this was all at the time when the Congressional Committee was investigating the case?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, Mr. Kershaw, did you, as James Earl Ray's attorney, take this offer to Mr. Ray in prison?

A. Yes. When the meeting came to a close, I rose and addressed Mr. Huie and I

told him that I would be glad to take his offer to Mr. Ray, but that it seemed to me that his very presence here in this conference room contradicted his mission. That his presence here indicated to me that there was probably a rich and powerful man behind the scenes who had instructed a rich and powerful and gifted writer to make overtures to get a certain story. And that in brief, his proposition for a lone madman killer clearly indicated a conspiracy.

Q. What did Mr. Huie reply to that?

A. He turned as red as a proverbial beet and managed to say nothing. He was a sandy-haired, red-faced little man to begin with. And he never answered.

Q. And you then left. Did you eventually take this offer to Mr. Ray?

A. Yes, I did. I was very interested to see what his reaction would be.

Q. And what was Mr. Ray's reaction?

A. He didn't want any part of it.

Q. So he turned it down?

A. That's right.

Q. He turned it down flat. Did you ever hear anything more about this offer or --

A. I never heard further from Mr. Huie.

MR. PEPPER: That's fine, Mr. Kershaw. Thank you very much.

THE WITNESS: All right.

MR. PEPPER: Nothing further.



Q. Mr. Kershaw, let me ask you a question. It appears you and I started practicing law the same year, 1961. Isn't it true that Mr. Huie later said that he had investigated this and talked to a number of witnesses and he had come to the conclusion that Mr. Ray acted alone in this assassination? Isn't that what he later said?

A. I'm sorry. Could you repeat that.

Q. Yes, sir. Isn't it true that Mr. Huie later said that he had talked to a number of witnesses, including Mr. Ray, and he concluded that Mr. Ray acted alone? Isn't that what he later said publicly?

A. I don't recall any such statement from Mr. Huie.

Q. Did you ever have any further meeting with him after this time?

A. No.

MR. GARRISON: That's all. Thank you.

THE COURT: All right, sir. You may stand down now.

THE WITNESS: Thank you.

(Witness excused.)





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