Closing Argument for the Prosecution in the Patty Hearst Trial by U. S. Attorney James Browning

James Browning

THE COURT: The record will show that all the members of the jury are present and seated in the box. This is the time for
Mr. Browning's closing argument. You may proceed, Mr. Browning.

MR. BROWNING: Thank you, Your Honor. Ladies and gentlemen, there are two remarks Mr. Bailey made with which I agree. The first is that it is entirely appropriate and very important in this case that you consider the type of person the defendant was at the time of her kidnapping. The second is that he doesn't like the revolutionary in the courtroom.  And I don't, either. But I think it's important to consider what the defendant in this case would have been had she continued to be the person she was at the time of her arrest. That is the real question here, who was Patricia Hearst on April 15th, 1974, and September 18th, 1975? She is a different person today than she was then, either because she was reprogrammed or because she was active. But I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the evidence you have heard, and some of it from the defense psychiatrists themselves, does not bear out the picture of Patricia Hearst that Mr. Bailey would have you believe. I have already mentioned some of the findings of Dr. West with respect to her home life, the fact that she was strong-willed, poor relationship with her parents.

MR. BAILEY: I object to that, Your Honor, that is not what Dr. West testified to. That is what Mimi Swanton said to Margaret Singer.

MR. BROWNING: Well, if Your Honor please, I think the evidence will speak for itself. I can quote counsel the pages.

THE COURT: Ladies and gentlemen, in this respect, it is the evidence that has been called, not what counsel says it is.
Mr. Browning, if you are going to refer to the evidence, refer specifically to the evidence and the place where you are citing it.

MR. BROWNING: Very well, Your Honor.

THE COURT: You will be more sure of your record.

MR. BROWNING: There is in evidence, ladies and gentlemen, a document which has been referred to in this trial as the Tania Interview. I suggest that you read that document. I suggest you read particularly the portions in that document which relate to the background of the defendant. And then I suggest you ask yourselves whether the Harrises forced the defendant to write those things that appear in this Tania Interview. You will find such things in the Tania Interview as that "The Hearst's children were not allowed to go to public schools. The reason given for this decision was straightforward. Kids who went to public schools were not the kind of people who we should have close association with." Some of those statements in the Tania Interview when you read them, ladies and gentlemen, with respect to what the defendant's frame of mind was at the time she was kidnapped, disillusioned with Steven Weed, dead-ended, or if you want to use the terms that the Government consultants gave you, a rebel in search of a cause. Mr. Bailey and I don't disagree with respect to whether it's important to look to see what type of person she is, only with respect to what the evidence shows as to the type of person she was. And I think you have to look to a lot of other evidence to determine where she was at, so to speak, on September 18th. You have to look at the Tobin tape. You have to look at her bail affidavit, and compare one with the other.

You have to look at her clenched fist salute in this very courthouse. Did she do all of those things, and can you really believe she did all of those things because of fear from the Harrises, or was it because she was reprogrammed by the psychiatrists, by the defense attorneys, with a view in mind to painting the very picture that has been painted of her here to you ladies and gentlemen? Because, you see, it's a pretty tough thing to explain all of the statements and writings and activities that the defense knew would be brought before you, ladies and gentlemen, with respect to the proof of these charges.

So how do you explain them? Some of them are very difficult to explain, and they know that. And so they say, "They made me do it." Time and time again, "They made me do it.  It was the fear that made me do it." Mr. Bailey said that you have to either accept her version, because she is the only one left alive, or you have to reject it. I believe, on the evidence, you should reject it. I believe that, because I do not believe the evidence is consistent with the version she gave you. And I say that with her credibility as a witness in mind, the fact that she signed a document containing untrue statements, for whatever reason. Mr. Bailey said that the defense had played the tapes for you and introduced them in evidence. I would merely comment in that regard -- these are the SLA tapes -- that, as Mr. Bailey well knows, the prosecution is restricted in presenting its case in chief to those matters which directly relate to the bank robbery. And the only probative matter with respect to the bank robbery from a prosecution point of view was the admission on one of the tapes that she robbed the bank. We fully expected that all of those tapes would come in, and I am glad they did, you didn't hear us objecting when Mr. Bailey offered the rest of those tapes. Because if you listen to all of those tapes, you will hear progression of attitudinal change. I am sorry Patricia Hearst was kidnapped. I am sorry when anybody is kidnapped. I wouldn't want to be kidnapped, you wouldn't want to be kidnapped, you wouldn't want your daughter to be kidnapped. To then, from that point, make the assumption that she remained a kidnap victim for the next nineteen months, notwithstanding that she had opportunities to escape, and notwithstanding that she had opportunities to get word to her parents, and notwithstanding the fact that she sprayed the area at Mel's with machine gun fire in order to rescue her alleged captors, or, as she put it, comrades, is to strain credulity.

I suggest to you that those factors point against her version that she has given you from this witness stand, and that you should reject her testimony. And you should reject the idea that she says on the tapes that she expropriated, she and her comrades, over ten thousand dollars, she said that because she was in fear.

I suggest you listen to the tone of voice. You are all reasonable people. You are expected to use your good sense, your common sense. How do we gauge people's motives, how do we gauge people's intent? Listen to what they say, how they say it, what they do. Those are the things I want you, ladies and gentlemen, to look at, those things that are in evidence which relate to what she did and what she said, and listen to how she said it. Listen to the tape of June 7th of 1974, the eulogy to the fallen comrades in the SLA shoot-out and fire on West 54th Street, Los Angeles. Listen to it and see whether in your view she is speaking from the heart, and don't be afraid to let your own mind tell you whether she is or not. Mr. Bailey pointed out that the Attorney General of the United States Court resists the statement he made back there in 1974, and I only want to point out to you in that regard that Mr. Saxby is no longer the Attorney General of the United States, and I say that in fairness to Mr. Lidz. If you listen carefully to this tape you can hear the pages being turned. So what, ladies and gentlemen? Are we to assume from that that it is only where a person speaks extemporaneously without notes that he is sincere? Of course not. The fact the pages are being turned and the fact that somebody else may have written a portion of what she had to say makes no difference at all, as long as she sincerely meant what she read, and that's why I urge you to listen to the sincerity of her voice.

Now, counsel mentioned in his opening argument and again in his opening statement -- and again in his closing argument, the matter of a portion of the sixth SLA tape containing the defendant's voice in which she says, "As for my ex-fiancé, I'm amazed that he thinks that the first thing I would want to do once freed, would be to rush and see him. The fact is, I don't care if I ever see him." And counsel seems to perceive from that that because the word "freed" was used, Angela Atwood, who is supposed to have written this portion of the script for this tape, as we are told, slipped and categorized the defendant as a kidnap victim, rather than as a comrade. I submit to you the content of that sentence does not bear out that interpretation. Miss Hearst, at this point is referring the listener's attention to the understanding of Mr. Weed, whom she perceives as not having thought that she had been kidnapped and was still in a kidnap situation, and that's what she says. "As for my ex-fiancé, I'm amazed that he thinks that the first thing I would want to do, once freed...", "That he thinks the first thing I would want to do once freed would be to rush and see him." Mr. Bailey pointed out that victims often do what they're told to do when they're told to do it, and so would I or he, he says. Well, would we, ladies and gentlemen? I think most of us want to protect our lives where threatened with death, but I also think it's very unlikely that we would pick up an automatic weapon and spray an area with machine gun fire which is peopled by innocent persons, and run the risk of killing or injuring them in order to protect ourselves.

Again, you have to look to the actions as they bear upon her intent. Was it a matter of her having to do everything they told her to do? Was she all alone in that van at the time she picked up those two carbines and shot in the direction of Mel's Sporting Goods? Was she doing those acts to free the Harrises or because of a fear for the Harrises? What is the reasonable interpretation of that, ladies and gentlemen? Consider that, and if you agree, as I trust you will, say so in your verdict.

Mr. Bailey also reminded you of the presumption of innocence, but I do wish to disagree with him to some extent when he says that she is wearing the presumption of innocence now. She is entitled to a presumption of innocence until the contrary is proved. The burden is upon the Government to prove the case. The evidence is all in, each of you take to the jury room with you certain impressions, as well you should, based upon the evidence. And you should –

THE COURT: She still has the presumption of innocence, however.

MR. BROWNING: She does indeed, Your Honor, as the jurors sit down to deliberate, but what I'm suggesting is -

THE COURT: And I intend to tell the jury that tomorrow morning.

MR. BROWNING: Thank you, Your Honor, I hope you do -- that they certainly need not block out of their mind the evidence we heard in this case.

THE COURT: I didn't say that, I don't say it now.

MR. BROWNING: The point is, ladies and gentlemen, if based upon the evidence you believe she is guilty, for heaven's sake, say so by your verdict. Mr. Bailey also spoke of the five witnesses who he claims changed their story to somehow accommodate the Government. He referred, I believe to Mr. Norton, Mr. Berzins, among others. I'm not going to rehash their testimony at this time, ladies and gentlemen. You heard it. But I leave you with this thought, if I may. People in a fast-moving panic situation - and I certainly don't doubt that the events at the Hibernia Bank of April 15th, 1974, were filled with panic and were very fast-moving -- are apt to make mistakes. If we brought in five witnesses from that bank and each of them told the same story, the same story they had told in the same way from the day they were first interviewed, you would say, I think, to yourselves, "Wait a minute, something is wrong here, it's too pat." The fact is people do make mistakes and upon reflection they do decide they were wrong in the first instance, or mistaken. But there are certain things that have never been changed, and one of the things I'd like you to bear in your mind is the fact that Mr. Berzins saw separate clips when he looked at that person down on one knee at the door.

Now, with respect to Dr. Fort. Counsel categorized him, I believe, as a psychopath and a habitual liar. Ladies and gentlemen, this sounds very similar to character assassination to me of Dr. Fort. Where is the evidence that Dr. Fort is a habitual liar, that he is a psychopath? You heard Dr. Fort's testimony. You heard him recite the positions he has held, you heard him recite the materials he consulted, the books he read. All right, maybe Fort is not the world's foremost expert on mind control or brainwashing, but he did an awful lot of work-up for this case in acquainting himself with it, so that he could give you, the jury, the benefit of his work-up for whatever assistance it might be. You heard him testify to those things. You heard him testify to what his opinion was. You heard him testify why he reached that opinion. For heaven's sake, ladies and gentlemen, judge Dr. Fort on what he says about this case and not these collateral matters that are in dispute, and I assure you they have been disputed with respect to Dr. Fort's employment with the American Psychiatric -or his membership in the American Psychiatric Association, his involvement in the Lenny Bruce case. Here is a man, Dr. Fort who appeared as witness for Lenny Bruce -- who is not deceased as we all know -- in a case in which Bruce was found to be an ' addict and committed, which was later reversed, and this is in evidence by way of a stipulation -- reversed by the Supreme Court of California on the basis of testimony before the trial court, one of which, or a portion of which was the testimony of Dr. Joel Fort. But yet we are told as a collateral side issue that because certain people saw vials of medicine in Lenny Bruce's home that supposedly Dr. Fort prescribed narcotics or drugs, narcotic drugs to Lenny Bruce. Now, I don't know that much about Lenny Bruce. Perhaps some of you know more about him than I do. But I can assure you that if anyone attempts to say of me if I am a doctor, that because my name appears on a vial of We know not what, that appears to be medicine with a name on it I believe one of them was methedrine, and I called your attention -- this is in evidence, too, methedrine was not an illegal drug at the time in California.

Does that prove that I have prescribed that medicine for that individual? Oh, you might say there is some evidence of it, but it is not very good proof. And the whole point that I am trying to make is that it is a completely collateral issue to this trial. We would have preferred that Mr. Bailey closely questioned Dr. Fort with respect to the substance of his testimony. The conclusions he reached and why he reached those conclusions. And I think it was grossly apparent to the jury that the substance of Dr. Fort's 'testimony on direct examination related just to that, what his conclusion was and why he got to that conclusion. And yet we are told about his dues in the American Psychiatric Association. We are told about Lenny Bruce. And incidentally, we are told about Lenny Bruce by one witness who himself, four years later, had his license suspended by the State of California for what? For untruthfulness and fraud.

MR. BAILEY: I object to that. Four years earlier, Mr. Browning.

MR. BROWNING: All right. Four years earlier. We heard from a doctor who testified that in his opinion Dr. Fort's reputation in the community, the medical community, was not good for truth and veracity. We also heard from Dr. Fort, I believe, that the same doctor was one with whom Dr. Fort was involved in an administrative controversy in the City and County of San Francisco. Who himself was involved in that administrative controversy. And then we heard from Mr. Bailey what perhaps was the most remarkable attack on any witness that I heard in this trial, and that was a question to Dr. Fort: "Dr. Fort, didn't you go to Catherine Hearst and try to fix this case behind my back?" What does that word "fix" mean to you, ladies and gentlemen? Does it mean money under the table? Does it mean some special consideration? You bet it does. Where is the proof of that, ladies and gentlemen? Where is the proof of any fix? Mr. Randolph Hearst testified, and I respect the fact that he in his testimony said that he did not understand Dr. Fort, when Dr. Fort talked to him, to be trying to fix the case. He told you what Dr. Fort talked about. It was not different from about what Dr. Fort told you he talked about. Mrs. Catherine Hearst testified substantially to the same thing. The evidence does not show there was any intent or purpose on Dr. Fort's part to go out and fix this case. Don't be misled by the smoke screen, ladies and gentlemen. On these collateral issues that counsel has raised: Judge this case on its merits, judge this case on the relevant evidence.

Counsel 'also told you at one point that if any doubts remain after you have heard the evidence, they ought to be resolved in the defendant's favor. I just merely want to remind you that we are not talking about any doubts at all, any possible or imaginary doubts. We are talking about the burden on the United States to prove this case beyond any reasonable doubt. And again I urge you to view the evidence in this entire case as to what is reasonable in the light of your own experience as men and women in this community, and then make up your mind accordingly.

Mr. Bailey in responding to my comments, I suppose, concerning the defendant's failure to answer certain questions, reminded you that she had the power, if not the legal right, to refuse to testify, and obviously she exercised that power by not answering questions. But you, ladies and gentlemen, took an oath, and I know it means something to you, to follow the law in this case. And the law says that you may consider her failure to answer proper questions on order of the Court as it affects your credibility.  That is the law, and I urge you to do that.

Mr. Bailey told you that nobody with personal knowledge told you that the defendant prior to her kidnapping was the type of person that the Government consultants described to you. And yet, much of that, as I have already indicated, came out of

Dr. West's collateral materials. There was at least one person who knew her, who was interviewed by Dr. West, and there is a

great deal of testimony on the record in this regard, and that is Mimi Swanton, and you will recall Mimi Swanton told Dr. West and Dr. Singer, they were working together, "When we heard her angry voice on the SLA tape, we knew that was the old Patricia Hearst. "

MR. BAILEY: I am going to correct this, Mimi Swanton has called Mr. Browning to correct some of that, and this is improper.

MR. BROWNING: The only thing I have, and I can represent to the Court I got a message that Mimi Swanton called, I don't have the message in front of me, I have never spoken to Mimi Swanton.

THE COURT: Both of you gentlemen, you are talking about something that occurred outside of court, and this discussion is therefore is not germane, and I am going to instruct the jury to disregard it. I don't care what Mimi Swanton sent a message in, and that is not evidence in this case, Mr. Bailey, and I won't permit the jury to hear it.

MR. BAILEY: Note my objection, because it is an ethical binder on counsel.

THE COURT: I don't care what it is, and I won't permit the jury to consider it. And I will consider your objection, and it stands in the record. But you are not to consider it, because it is not a matter that is involved here and I don't know and you don't know that Mimi Swanton did object to what she did do.  Mr. Bailey thinks she did, and she may have -- but I instruct you that is not the issue in this case and she can give testimony one way or another, if she wanted to be a witness, she had every right to be.

MR. BAILEY: I object to that statement. She had not a right to be a witness unless somebody called her.

THE COURT: All right. I will accept that amendment.

MR. BROWNING: Thank you, Your Honor. Then, Mr. Bailey mentioned Ulysses Hall, who was called as a witness for the defendant, and who you will recall testified concerning the telephone conversation he had with Mr. DeFreeze. And he asked you to believe, I suppose, Mr. Hall -- an ex-felon, who sat up on that stand and told you that he had not used narcotics since 1959 or 1960. You heard in subsequent testimony the number of times that Mr. Hall had had an association with narcotics. He sat up on that stand and he told you that he got that telephone call in 19 -- whenever, in Stockton. In Stockton. You also heard subsequent witnesses testify that he had told them that he had been up in Seattle during that same period of time. I ask you to view that testimony in the light that it is entitled to be viewed in, and I think you know what I have in mind in that regard. Then Mr. Bailey told you that the SLA predicted that this trial, predicted this verdict, predicted 25 years. I assume Mr. Bailey was being allegorical when he made that reference, because there is absolutely no evidence in this case that the SLA predicted this trial and the verdict and any 25 years.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to decide this case on the evidence, considering the type of person -

MR. BAILEY: Your Honor, I am going to note my objection because the defendant testified precisely to that, and I think it improper for Mr. Browning to assert otherwise.

THE COURT: The defendant did testify, ladies and gentlemen. You are the jurors, you have heard the testimony and it is your memory that counts, and you consider the testimony as you understand it, not as counsel are saying it.

MR. BROWNING: If I am incorrect, I apologize.

THE COURT: Proceed, Mr. Browning.

MR. BROWNING: Thank you, Your Honor. The bottom line here, ladies and gentlemen, is to use your good sense in arriving at a verdict in determining whether the person inside the Hibernia Bank on April 15, 1974, was a person who fired the guns down at Mel's in Los Angeles a month later. The person who gave the clenched first salute in this courthouse? The person who described herself as an urban guerilla upon booking? The person who, time after time, failed to escape, to notify her parents? The person who spoke with Trish Tobin on the tape, said that she was pissed off about being arrested, what stories she could tell? The person who signed that affidavit? The person who said she had no bullets when she went into the bank? The person who, in short, ladies and gentlemen, the evidence shows had become a revolutionary and robbed the bank voluntarily.  We ask you to return a guilty verdict on both counts of the indictment.

Patty Hearst Trial Home