In our world where news travel fast and cameras are everywhere, incidents and case trials generate media frenzy. Now imagine the year was 1964, and you’re watching an assassination broadcasted on national TV. The victim? The guy who assassinated the president. A grieving country waiting for justice to be served just got the shock of their lives. This webinar describes the flurry brought about by the Jack Ruby case.
This session’s instructor is Judge Brandon Birmingham. He is the presiding judge of the Felony Domestic Violence Court program and the Criminal District Courts in Dallas County. He was elected judge of the 292nd Judicial District Court, a felony trial court, in November 2014. Before this, he was a Chief Felony Prosecutor in the trial division of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
Specifics covered in this webinar are:
- JFK’s assassination and its aftermath – the events that led Jack Ruby to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald.
- Getting to know Jack Ruby through trial testimonies and the unfettered media access during the trial.
- The principal question that the trial meant to resolve: Whether or not Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald voluntarily and with malice aforethought.
- The lawyers for the prosecution and defense sides of the case.
- The change of venue hearing and the meticulous jury selection process to ensure a fair trial.
- The state’s case proving Jack Ruby pre-meditated the shooting as illustrated by…
- Testimonies from various parties on Jack Ruby’s demeanor and activities on the day of the assassination
- Jack Ruby’s statements before and after shooting Lee Harvey Oswald.
- The defense’s case that claims Jack Ruby is not guilty of pre-meditating the killing, and if any, was a case of sudden passion killing stressing that…
- Jack Ruby was overcome by emotion and is not in his right mind when it happened.
- He was a peculiar character to start with and has scientific proof through electroencephalogram (EEG) to support it.
- His manner of shooting a gun is unorthodox.
- The state’s rebuttal which pointed out…
- Jack Ruby’s unorthodox shooting technique is actually instinct shooting, a result of being a retired army shooter.
- That if he indeed was not in his right mind or was in a fugue state, he wouldn’t have memories of what happened before, during, and after the shooting.
- The defense’s rebuttal that…
- None of the testimonies from witnesses regarding what Jack Ruby uttered before the shooting were recorded when there are lots of cameras and microphones where it happened.
- Demeanor and activities that witnesses testified on supported Jack Ruby’s peculiar behavior.
- The state debunked the scientific proof of insanity by conducting an EEG blind test, where Jack Ruby’s results were shown to be normal.
- The defense denounced the blind-test’s findings, as EEG’s main proponent took to the stand asserting that the results were actually abnormal.
- How the prosecution used Dr. Gibb’s findings to disprove Jack Ruby’s insanity.
- A glimpse into the witnesses that were asked to testify.
- The closing arguments made by the lawyers, the juror’s decision, and the final verdict.
- The legal counsel’s thoughts on the outcome of the trial, and the jurors’ opinion on what would’ve made them decide otherwise.
Questions from the audience were about:
- What “voluntarily and with malice aforethought” means in layman’s terms.
- Why Jack Ruby chose Melvin Belli as his representation.
- What happened to Jack Ruby’s dog.
- Resources to read the details of the case in depth.
- Information from Juror Waymon Rose.
- The trial’s lessons and takeaways for judges and prosecutors.
This the first in a series of two webinars.
- Oct 15: Jack Ruby: The Original “Trial of the Century” (this webinar)
- Nov 19: US v Timothy McVeigh: The Oklahoma City Bombing Trial
Resources and Handouts
- Learn more about the assassination of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald and the Jack Ruby Trial from the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
- Judge Birmingham Blog Post: Why are you so interested in the Jack Ruby Case?
- Judge Birmingham Blog Post: Detective Leavelle Knew Why Jack Ruby Killed Lee Harvey Oswald Because Ruby Told Him
- “It was very interesting how the trial for Ruby transpired. I learned a lot of things I previously didn’t know. A very interesting topic.” — Steven
- “Information was phenomenal. I remember as a young girl this time in history but was unaware of a lot of the facts shared by Judge Birmingham. Thank you.” — Karen
- “The most valuable thing(s): Much not widely known historical information and detail about the trial; the role of media; juror pressures; thoughts about how things have changed. Wonderfully informative and well presented! Thanks very much!!” — Victoria
- “The historical retrospective as a training tool is very interesting. Recommend it for future topics. Thank you.” — Paul
- “The Judge was a great presenter and I learned quite a bit on this topic.” — Kim
- “The defense strategies were interesting. Very good presentation, thank you!” — John
- “This webinar was so interesting! It makes me think about how the particulars behind President Kennedy’s assassination were handled back then.” — Judith
- “I think that this was a great topic to touch on and Judge Brandon was able to give us a detailed look at how things were in Dallas at that chaotic time of 1964. I also like how he was able to give us the tidbit of the criminals who escaped jail that had to be recaptured. I also thought it was a valuable point to show that people were not as specialized as they are now. A civil lawyer could also be a trial lawyer.” — Idris
- “I enjoyed Judge Birmingham’s 2 key take-aways from the trial regarding both the Judge’s and Prosecutor’s responsibilities. I feel those questions are even more apt today. Thank you for doing the webinar. I truly enjoyed the presentation.” — Denise