Business as usual or meet the lone gunman(UA-66627984-1)

Henry Wade.


Henry Wade

Henry Manusco Wade (a former F.B.I. agent) was elected to become the Dallas District Attorney in 1952 and stayed in that position until 1988. He was one of the most recognised and known D.A.’s in the U.S.A.  He held a conviction ratio that no other D.A. in the U.S.A. could match. The motto “conviction at any cost….” has been used to describe his tenure as a District Attorney.  Nineteen convictions three for murder and the rest involving rape or burglar won by Wade and two successors who trained under him have been overturned after DNA evidence exonerated the defendants. About 250 more cases are under review.

No other county in America and almost no state, for that matter has freed more innocent people from prison in recent years than Dallas County. Evidence was ignored and defense lawyers were kept in the dark. They note that the promotion system under Wade rewarded prosecutors for high conviction rates.

In the case of James Lee Woodard released after 27 years in prison for a murder DNA showed he didn’t commit. Wade’s office withheld from defense attorneys photographs of tire tracks at the crime scene that didn’t match Woodard’s car.

“Detectives in those cases, they kind of trimmed the corners to just get the case done”, said Michelle Moore, a Dallas County public defender and president of the Innocence Project of Texas. Whether the fault lies with the detectives or the DA’s, is for others to bicker about…..

In this article from D Magazine in 1977 entitled The Law and Henry Wade, it becomes more than evident that Wade liked to win. One ought to ask at the same time at what cost? The article mentions that in the year before Wade’s election, there had been only 125 convictions for driving while intoxicated. During his first three months, Wade convicted 140 drunken drivers, and sent half of them to jail. By the year’s end, the war on D.U.I. had produced 1,225 convictions.

Wade ended his first year of tenure with a stunning record: 1002 convictions, including 132 trials, only seven of which resulted in acquittals. He had produced 13 death sentences, seven life imprisonment sentences, and convicted 746 hot check writers, more than half of whom went to prison. The term ‘overzealous’ springs to mind and this is something that followed Wade during his tenure as the Dallas District Attorney.

Troubling cases surfaced in the 1980s, as Wade’s career was winding down.

Lenell Geter, a black engineer, was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to life in prison. After Geter had spent more than a year behind bars, Wade agreed to a new trial, then dropped the charges in 1983 amid reports of shoddy evidence and allegations Geter was singled out because of his race.

In the article When Henry Wade Executed An Innocent Man by D Magazine from May 2016 it describes the conviction of a black man called Tommy Lee Walker.

Henry Wade wouldn’t intentionally try to convict someone he knew to be innocent” says former Dallas assistant district attorney Edward Gray, “but even in cases where evidence was weak, he would go all out, go for broke, be super-competitive.” Gray, who wrote the 2010 book Henry Wade’s Tough Justice gives even greater insight into the miscarriages of justice during Wade’s tenure. Wade’s office conviction rate of innocent defendants was ten times the national average! The reader ought to keep this particular ‘setting’ in mind while the JFK Assassination took place.

The Wade era, from 1951 to 1986, was marked by take-no-prisoner trial tactics, conviction rates that topped 90 percent and record-length punishments.

This rate percentage goes pretty much hand in hand with Fritz’s clearance rate.

In Wade’s final year in office, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a black man, Thomas Miller-El, ruling that blacks were excluded from the jury. Cited in Miller-El’s appeal was a manual for prosecutors that Wade wrote in 1969 and was used for more than a decade. It gave instructions on how to keep minorities off juries.

A month before Wade died of Parkinson’s disease in 2001, DNA evidence was used for the first time to reverse a Dallas County conviction. David Shawn Pope, found guilty of rape in 1986, had spent 15 years in prison.


That is just a taste of how things were done back then…….

Wade’s reactions at the news of the assassination were published in the Dallas Morning News of Nov. 23. One aspect is worth recording as giving an insight into Wade’s view of due process.

“Fred Brunes, a leading defense lawyer, was seated near Wade when the district attorney learned of the shooting. “‘Fred, would you defend a man who would shoot down the President of the United States?’ Wade asked.

“‘Definitely not,’ Bruner replied. From Oswald Assassin or Fall Guy – Joachim Joesten.

On Nov. 22nd Wade does not arrive until early evening at City Hall, a place he actually visits very seldom. Upon arrival he speaks to Chief of Police Curry who shows him the Revill memo about James Hosty and his remarks with regards to Oswald’s guilt. Then he makes his way towards Captain Fritz’s office and, to his surprise, sees Jim Allen there.

Images courtesy of the Uni of North Tx.


During Wade’s press conference, on Saturday Nov. 23rd very early in the morning just after Lee Oswald’s ‘press conference. Overall Wade shows that he is not very well informed when it comes to some basic details regarding the evidence. .

In the very same article from D Magazine it says: The Warren Commission’s characterization of Wade’s statements at a press conference following the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald as “lacking a thorough grasp of the evidence” and creating “the basis for distorted reconstructions and interpretations of the assassination” also suggests something about Wade’s overzealousness. But the criticisms of both the legal community and the Warren Commission were largely ignored by Wade’s constituency.

Wade relentlessly prosecuted Oswald in the court of public opinion. Before an investigation had barely begun, Wade was interviewed in the corridor of the third floor who asked, “And will you ask death in the electric chair for Lee Oswald?” “Yes sir” was Wade’s reply Wade. Another one asked, “How many cases of this type have you been involved in, that is when the death penalty is involved?” Wade said, “Since I’ve been district attorney, we’ve — I’ve asked the death penalty in twenty-four cases.” “And how many times have you attained it?” the reporter continued. Wade replied in a blunt, stone-faced monotone, “Twenty-three.”  Ending this up with “I’ve sent people to the electric chair on less.”

On the 24th Wade gives another press conference. This is after Oswald was murdered by Ruby and also never had a chance to defend himself with any type of legal defence at any time until his death. Wade starts naming the many items of evidence and it shows how badly informed he is and continues, like the others, with his trial by media method. First item of evidence are the many witnesses who have seen Oswald in the window of the 6th floor of the T.S.B.D. which is quite an opening statement since no one was ever able to do this! Not to this day! As Chief Curry would say in 1969. “We don’t have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle and never did. Nobody’s yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand. Why Oswald was nevertheless blamed for the crime seems difficult to explain – but it is what happened.”

Then Oswald’s palm print has been found on the box in the sniper’s nest. What Wade did not mention was that Oswald’s was found among about 23 finger prints and 11 palm prints unaccounted for.

Then the rifle is attributed to him by purchasing it from some mail order house under the name Hidell and mailed to a P.O. Box in Dallas. The rifle no U.S.P.S. officer can attest to handing it over to Oswald. A rifle sent to Hidell to a P.O. Box named Oswald…….right.

The backyard photographs are mentioned. The package is next. And the list goes on with a lot of so called evidence that can be disputed one way or another.

Regarding the interrogations Wade says he did not participate in any. And that Oswald did not admit to any of the killings at all. And that he was bitter at all the law enforcement officers present so he had been told.

He believed that Oswald was an FBI informant and he started talking about it in Washington in Jan. of 1964, which of course became an issue for the head honchos of the W.C.  Earl Warren and J. Lee Rankin.  Rankin himself wrote an 8 page memo regarding this, but there are no straight answers in it, only a listing of a lot of beliefs. S.S. Inspector Thomas Kelley believes that the S.S. agent, Sweatt, who created the report not to be very reliable and that is where it ends. In the end the whole Oswald was a F.B.I. informant story was concocted by Dallas reporter Lonnie Hudgins.

Wade’s W.C. Testimony gives some insight in a few matters.

Mr. WADE. The next thing I did was to go by the sheriff’s office who is next door to me and talked to Decker, who is the sheriff. Bill Decker, and they were interviewing witnesses who were on the streets at the time, and I asked him and he said they have got a good prospect. This must have been 3 o’clock roughly.

Mr. RANKIN. The witnesses that were on the street near the Depository Building?

Mr. WADE. Yes, sir; and in the building, I am not sure who they were, they had two court reporters there taking statements.

Mr. RANKIN. Did they tell you anything about a suspect at that point?

Mr. WADE. The Sheriff told me, he said, “Don’t say nothing about it, but they have got a good suspect”, talking about the Dallas Police. He didn’t have him there. John Connally, you know, was shot also-and he was, he used to be a roommate of mine in the Nary and we were good friends, and are now-and the first thing I did then was went out to the hospital to see how he was getting along. I must have stayed out there until about 5 o’clock, and in case you all don’t know or understand one thing, it has never been my policy to make any investigations out of my officer of murders or anything else for that matter. We leave that entirely to the police agency.

Mr. RANKIN. Do you have a reason for that?

Mr. WADE. That is the way it is set up down there. We have more than we can do actually in trying the casa. The only time we investigate them is after they are filed on, indicted, and then we have investigators who get them ready for trial and then lawyers.

When Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby, Henry Wade said that he would not divulge any more evidence they had against Lee Harvey Oswald. “No we had plenty of evidence to convict Oswald / Fingerprints and everything. But I’ve told the police, and the police have cooperated very well, that the Oswald case is moot now and we have to get on with the Ruby case. “

Henry Wade during a press conference, which by the looks of it is published unedited in the NYT on November 26 on the next page, states: “A police officer, immediately after the assassination, ran in the building and saw this man in a corner and tried to arrest him; but the manager of the building said he was an employee and it was all right. “

In the Dallas Times Herald of Jan 25th 1964 Wade’s wife is quoted: “I’d be afraid to drink a glass of light wine and then drive to the drugstore” admitted his wife. “If the police stopped me, I know what Henry would do.”

Winnipeg Free Press Nov 23 1963. Click to enlarge.


Melissa Johnson interviews Wade in Jan. of 1993.

Henry Wade being interviewed by Mark Oakes in 1992.