THE HEAD OF A RACIST CONSPIRACY?

Prosecutor Burrell Ives Humphreys is a believer in civil rights
... and was a member of the NAACP

Burrell Ives Humphreys just after Carter's second conviction in 1976.
 


On Carter's guilt...

"The defendants came to that bar that morning with a very specific purpose in mind, and that purpose was murder. Without a word, Mr. Carter fired a shotgun blast at the bartender," which severed his spinal cord and killed him.

-- From Humphreys' opening statement
at Carter's 1976 trial


On race & the trial...

"This case improved race relations. Two courageous blacks on the jury looked at the facts and voted accordingly."

On defense tactics...

"The defense constructed a theory that everybody was persecuting them. That's not necessarily the best way. Good defense attorneys will tell you the best way to try it was to stress reasonable doubt and not antagonize the court, heap abuse on the prosecutor and try to convince everybody the police are out to get you.

"The defendants had to make a decision on whether they wanted to win or whether they wanted to win in a manner designed to produce books. If they were acquitted on the basis of reasonable doubt, would that make much of a movie?"

-- Humphreys after Carter's second
conviction, December 1976


On Bello...

"We knew we had a sound case with or without Bello. Even if no one else thought so, Bello was one of our weaker links."


Humphreys' Background

From the New York Daily News, December 1976: Appointed as Passaic County prosecutor in 1975, Humphreys is a curious mixture of civil rights advocate and firm law-and-order man. He is a 49-year-old Wayne resident who was graduated from Temple Law School in 1952. He worked for the state attorney general's office in civil rights and official corruption investigations before entering private practice.

Note: Burrell Ives Humphreys was the Passaic County Prosecutor who was in charge of the second murder trial of Rubin Carter. He is now a judge. In December of 1967, I photographed Humphreys in his home while a reporter from my newspaper interviewed him. Recently I've been curious to see whether that interview revealed anything concerning Humphreys' attitudes about race. It did. Here are the relevant excerpts. -- Cal Deal

From an article by Ann Marie Sullivan, Dec. 17, 1967:

At present, Humphreys is a hearing examiner for civil rights cases in the State of New Jersey. "It's mostly discrimination cases, heard before a quasi-judicial board, then the parties go to the Appellate Court with the matter if they wish." Most of these cases, he said, "of increasing numbers of late, deal with apartment house violations."

He had been a member of the NAACP, but resigned in view of the conflict with the hearing examiner post.

Humphreys was the attorney for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Conover and Mr. and Mrs. John Mooney when they charged the Packanack Lake Club in Wayne with discriminatory practices.

Humphreys won the case, the Packanack Board of Directors appealed, and although the final Appellate Court decision is "complicated,:" Humphreys said, "the Appellate Court denied the appeal."

"They are courageous people," he added, referring to the two couples.


Are you a member of the ACLU?

"Yes, and have been for many years, although I've never actually handled a case for them," Humphreys said.

The ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, is, according to its stated objectives, devoted to upholding the Constitution of the United States. They enter cases in which civil rights may have been violated.

"I believe in the civil liberties of everybody," said Humphreys. He sounded as though he meant it.


We left remembering his own summation of the interests and causes of Burrell Ives Humphreys:

"1. A stronger United Nations.

"2. Civil rights for Negroes and other minority groups.

"3. Civil liberties for everyone."

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