The Alger Hiss Trials: Excerpts from the Trial Transcripts

Testimony of Selected Witnesses
Prosecution Witnesses
Esther Chambers

Defense Witnesses
Priscilla Hiss
Dr. Carl A. Binger (psychiatric expert--2nd trial)

Testimony of Esther Chambers (first trial)
Esther Chambers testified in both trials.  She testified on direct examination that she was "sympathetic" to the Communist Party in the 1930s, but never was a member.  She recalled meeting Alger Hiss for the first time in 1934, and then on many occasions afterward.  She testified about receiving gifts from Priscilla Hiss, including a rug and a linen towel.  She also recalled celebrating the wedding anniversary of the Hisses in December 1937 with "a bottle of champagne." 
Brief excerpts from her cross-examination by Lloyd Stryker follow:
From the cross-examination by defense attorney Lloyd Stryker:
Esther Chambers: [Answering a question about whether she enrolled her daughter in a particular school during the period of her husband's underground work:] Well, sir, I don't know about dates, and if that is...within the period in which he was in the underground.  I don't know why you are trying to stump me on dates."
Judge Kaufman:  Now, Mrs. Chambers, no one is attempting to stump you at all."
Esther Chambers:  Well, it is very easy.
Judge Kaufman:  And the Court resents any such implication, and I am certain that the jury does.  Nobody here is attempting to stump anybody. We are here attempting to get the facts in a case that is important for the government and very important for the defendant.  And it comes with very bad grace for you to indicate that anyone is attempting to stump you....Now we don't want any more of these insinuations....
Esther Chambers:  I think so too.  I am sorry, sir.

Stryker:  Now, wouldn't you as the man's wife know when you got out of the underground criminal conspiracy known as the American Communist Party?  As his wife wouldn't you know when he started to reform from that criminal activity?
Judge Kaufman: Can't you answer that question, Mrs. Chambers?
E. Chambers:  Oh, I didn't know there was any question....It was a long time in coming and thought out very thoroughly and suffered through, and he finally broke.  Thank particular moment of the the breaking has been unimportant in my life and I have long since forgotten it....'38 or '37, I have forgotten....

Stryker:  Now, did that not shock you as a mother [to give your young child the same alias you and Whittaker were using]?  Did you not think that psychologically that was a dreadful thing to do, to take a little girl and teach her to cheat and deceive by using a false name?
E. Chambers:  Well, it did worry us.
Stryker:  Then you have some conscience?
E. Chambers:  Do I have to answer that?....

Stryker: In other words, you didn't think it was very much of a misrepresentation to present your husband to this school as a decent citizen whereas he was--
E. Chambers:  I resent that.  My husband is a decent citizen, a great man.
Stryker:  Was he a great, decent citizen in October, 1937?
E. Chambers:  When he was in the underground?
Stryker:  I just asked a simple question.  Was he a great and decent citizen in October 1937.  Yes or no?
E. Chambers:  Yes, and always. 
Stryker:  And so that the jury will understand your conception: It is your idea that a man who was plotting and conspiring by any and all means to overthrow the Government of this country, who had been sneaking around for twelve years under false names, that is your conception of the great decent citizen, right?
E. Chambers:  No, but if then believed that is the right thing to do at the moment I believe that is a great man, who lives up to his beliefs.  His beliefs may change, as they did."
Stryker:  In other words, if he believed it was all right for him to sneak around the country under aliases using the means he described, you think if a man believes that kind of criminal activity is all right, you think that makes it  right, is that it?
E. Chambers:  No, but he was not--
[Judge Kaufman interrupts to rule the question argumentative.]

Testimony of Priscilla Hiss (first trial)
Priscilla Hiss testified in both trials.  She testified on direct examination that Whittaker Chambers was introduced to her as "Mr. Crosley" by her husband.  She also testified that she received the Woodstock typewriter from her father in 1932.  She admitted typing the four "Hiss standards" on the Woodstock in the mid-1930s.  She testified that the Woodstock was given to the Catletts in December 1937, just before the dates shown on the critical Baltimore papers.
Brief excerpts from her direct examination by Lloyd Stryker and her cross-examination by Thomas Murphy  follow:
From the direct examination by defense attorney Lloyd Stryker:
Q.  Did you ever hand Exhibits 1 to 47 [the Baltimore papers], which include the handwritten notes and the typewritten notes, to Mr. Chambers at any time?
A.  I certainly did not.
Q.  Did you ever agree in the summer of 1937 to make typewritten...copies of State Department papers for the purpose of transmitting them to Mr. Chambers?
A.  No, Mr. Stryker, I didn't.
Q.  Did your husband ever ask you to do that?
A.  No.

From the cross-examination by Thomas Murphy:

Q.  [After Priscilla Hiss testified that she first met Chambers "when he came to see the apartment (for a possible sublet), Murphy asked about Priscilla Hiss's inconsistent statement before the grand jury that Chambers came to their 28th Street House "two or three times I imagine before he and his wife came to visit our apartment."]  What was he doing at your house on those two or three occasions?
A.  He was simply calling.
Q.  Upon whom?
A.  Upon my husband.
Q.  You don't remember what they talked about?
A.  No.
Q.  Were they purely social calls?
A.  I think so, yes.
Q.  Which is correct, what you told the grand jury in December or what you told these ladies and gentleman today?
A.  Well, I don't think they are very inconsistent.


Testimony of Dr. Carl A. Binger in the second Hiss Trial
(beginning January 4, 1950)
Dr. Carl A. Binger testified for the defense as a psychiatric expert.  Based on his reading of selected writings of Whittaker Chambers and observation of Chambers on the witness stand, Binger testified that he concluded Chambers  had "psychopathic personality" and was "a pathological liar."  However, in a devastating cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Murphy raised serious questions about Binger's credibility.  One commentator said admiringly, "Mr. Murphy just wanted plain answers to plain questions--about the most alarming  assignment anyone would wish on a psychiatrist."  Murphy, through his questions, suggested that the label "psychopathic personality" was useless and empty catch-all of a lot of symptoms. 
From the direct examination by defense attorney Claude Cross:

Q. What is your opinion, Dr. Binger, of the mental condition of Mr. Chambers?

A. I think Mr. Chambers is suffering from a condition known as psychopathic personality, which is a disorder of character, of which the outstanding features are behavior of what we call an amoral or an asocial and delinquent nature.

Q. Will you define for us, Doctor, what you mean by amoral and asocial?

A. I mean that amoral behavior is bahavior that does not take account the ordinary accepted conventions of morality; and asocial behavior is behavior which has not regard for the good of society and of individuals, and is therefore frequently destructive of both.

Q. Is psychopathic personality a recognized mental disease?

A. It is.

Q. Will you tell us what you mean when you say that psychopathic personality is recognized mental disease?

A. I mean that it is listed as a standard diagnosis among the standard diagnoses accepted by the American Psychiatric Association, and can be found I think on page 601-- I am not certain of the page--of the American Hygiene Laws and General Orders of the Department of Mental Hygiene of the State of New York.  You will find there the diagnosis of psychopathic personality among the diagnoses of mental illness.

Q. Is that a classification that has been put out by the Department of Mental Hygiene of the State of New York?

A. It is, yes, sir.

Q. And that Order has been effective for how long?

A. That I can't precisely say but I would guess at least 15 years.

Q. Aside from it being included in the classification under Mental Hygiene Laws of the State of New York and its Orders, is it recognized in the standard text books or texts on psychiatry?

A. Oh, yes, there has been a great deal written about it both here and abroad, and there are many standard books that cover this subject.

Q. Will you tell us, Dr. Binger, what some of the symptoms of a psychopathic personality are?

A. Well, they are quite variegated.  They include chronic, persistent and repetitive lying; they include stealing; they include acts of deception and misrepresentations; they include alcoholism and drug addiction; abnormal sexuality; vagabondage; panhandling; inability to form stable attachments; and a tendency to make false accusations.

May I say that in addition to what is commonly recognized by the layman as lying, there is a peculiar kind of lying known as pathological lying, and a peculiar kind of tendency to make false accusations known as pathological accusations, which are frequently found in the psychopathic personality.

Q. Are there treatises on the matter of pathological lying and pathological false accusing?

A. Yes. One of the best books in this country was written by William Healy, who was for many years the head of the Judge Baker Foundation in Boston, whose interest was in delinquency.

Q. What would you say, Dr. Binger, as to the nature of the acts of a psychopathic personality, one having a psychopathic personality?

A. Well, I should say, first of all--

Q. In addition to what you have already said; I don't want you to repeat.

A. Yes, I understand that.  First of all, a psychopath is quite aware of what he is doing but he does not always know why he does it; and to characterize the acts in a qualitative way, they are frequently impulsive and very often bizarre, so that they do not make much sense to the casual observer who does not understand what the particular fantasy or imagination there is behind these acts; because the acts actually represent something private to the patient, but from a point of view of common sense and understanding apparently making no sense.

Q. Would it proper, Dr. Binger, to refer to an individual who has a psychopathic personality as a psychopath?  Is that the recognized term that is used?

A. Well, that is a n abbreviation, yes, sir, and is to be distinguished from a psychotic or insane person.  It has nothing to do with conventional judgment of sanity.

Q. How about neurotic classifications?  Would it be distinguished from that?

A. I think I should emphasize that these are not hard and fast distinctions; that many psychopaths have certain characteristics which we see in more seriously mentally disturbed psychotic individuals.  For example, they very frequently, in fact, almost always, exhibit what we call paranoid thinking, about which I will talk later; and they also, on the other hand, exhibit some of the characteristics seen in neurotic individuals, in the form of anxiety or over-concern about their bodies, or hypochondriasis, or something of that sort; but it is a kind of middle ground between the psychotic and the neurotic.

Q. Have you any suggestions for the cause of the disease which you have here described as psychopathic personality?

A. I do not know the cause of it; nobody knows the cause of it.  It is a disorder of personality beginning in early youth and almost always--in fact, one can say always--lasting throughout life.  But I know some of the apparent causes.  These unfortunate people have a conviction of the truth and validity of their own imaginations, of their own fantasies without respect to outer reality; so that they play a part in life, play a role.  They may be a hero at one moment and a gangster at the next.  They act as if a situation were true which, in fact, is true only in their imaginations; and on the basis of such imaginations they will claim friendships where not exist, just as they will make accusations which have no basis in fact, because they have a constant need to make their imaginations come true by behaving as if the outer world were actually in accord with their own imagination.

Q. By that, Dr. Binger, do you mean that a psychopath is insensible to the feelings of others?

A. Well, he is amazingly isolated and egocentric.  He does not really establish a rapport with other people, and he never knows how other people feel because he is always playing a part as if what he thought to be true was true of others.

Q. Would it be consistent of the behavior of a psychopath in describing his relation with another to tell about trips, visits, exchange of gifts and other acts of association which, in fact, never occurred?

A. Anything is consistent because he will simply tell what he believes at the moment or what needs to be true, and, of course, that would be quite consistent.

From the cross examination Thomas Murphy (Jan. 10, 1950):


Q. Dr. Binger, on your direct examination, that is the time when you were being examined by Mr. Cross, you did not give to the jury, did you, any explanation of the fact that Mr. Chambers had these four handwritten notes which contained the State Department documents, or the bases from them, or the fact that Mr. Chambers had all of these typewritten sheets which contained copies of State Department documents and which were typed on that machine. You did not explain that as part of your direct examination, did you, Doctor?

A. You mean did I explain how he got them?

Q. No. My question was simply did you explain that as part of your direct examination.

A. Well, I don't want to appear too stupid, but did I explain that he had them?

Q. No. Did you explain the fact that Mr. Chambers, for instance, had these four handwritten notes, which notes contained sometimes copies, sometimes extracts, from State Department telegrams that had passed over Mr. Hiss's desk? Did you explain that?

A. No, sir, I did not.

Q. Now, Doctor, you will have to be a little more patient with me. I don't quite understand, Doctor, perhaps because of my unfamiliarity with some of the medical terms, but when you explained to the jury that in your opinion as an expert psychiatrist, that Mr. Chambers had a psychopathic personality I do not understand just exactly what a psychopathic personality is. In other words, my recollection is that you did not define the term the same as you define say, pneumonia. As I understand it, you said that it was a recognized mental disease and then you started to give various symptoms. Now I wonder, Doctor, could you give us a rather clear, concise definition in the language that we all would understand of what psychopathic personality means?

A. Yes, I think I can. I tried to do that the other day. I said that a psychopathic personality was a disorder of
character in which the outstanding features.

Q. No, if you can just define it, Doctor. The first was excellent. It is a disorder of the character. Now without going into the symptoms or the characteristics, if you I could just, for instance, start off by defining what pneumonia is. Tell us what pneumonia is.

A. I will do that. Pneumonia is an infectious disease due to the invasion of the blood stream with the micro-organism called pneumococcus, of which the outstanding characteristic is an inflammatory process in the lung. That is the definition I think you probably would find in most advanced texts about pneumonia.

Q. In other words it is some germ that somehow gets into the bloodstream and as a result of getting in the blood stream that causes an inflammation of some part of the body?

A. The lung; one or more lobes of the lung.

Q. And a psychopathic personality, continue from there.

A. I said it was a disorder of the character.  My next effort was to tell you what kind of disorder of character it was, and at that point you stopped me.

Q. Can we say, so far as a medical definition is concerned, it s a disorder of character?  Can we go further than that in defining it without next going into symptoms?

A. I think we can.

Q. All right, if you will.

A. I said it was a disorder of the character. My next effort was to tell you what kind of disorder of character it was, and at that point you stopped me.

A. One has to assume that by the word "character" we include the mental and emotional life of the individual, because character is composed of or is activated by our mental and emotional life. When I say "character" I mean it is a disorder involving the mental and emotional life. 

Q. It is a disorder of character as you have defined the term "character"?

A. Yes.

Q. Anything more concise than that?

A. Well, the next step would naturally be to intimate what kind of disorder of character it was. That gets us into the realm of behavior.

Q. Well, Doctor, can we say that as far as you would be willing to go on a concise definition basis is that it is
a disorder of character? In other words, you won't go any further than that in your definition, will you, Doctor, except, of course, explaining the symptoms?

A. I will go further if you will allow me to.

Q. Oh, indeed, yes.

A. It is a disorder of character, by which I mean disorder of the mental and emotional life, the signs of which have to do with the particular kind of behavior of the person who is suffering from this disorder. In other words, there is no test of character except the behavior. That is, the outward sign of the mental and emotional life of this individual. 

Q. Aren't you then, Doctor, going into rather what you mean by the definition of character? I was trying to nail down, if I could, just what this disease was so that the jury and myself could really see whether it does in fact apply to this witness, Mr. Chambers, and you have said -

A. Mr. Murphy, I will do anything I can to make this as clear as I can, but I naturally have to use the definitions that I believe to be true.

Q. Oh yes, Doctor. Isn't it true that almost every human act can be defined in almost simple terms?

A. I think that is true.

Q. Well, Doctor, can you then use - bear in mind you have such an advantage over all of us - could you use then as simple terms as possible? We have I think an understanding of the phrase" a disorder of character." Can you go any further in your definition and explain just what this disease is?

A. Well, thus far I have described only two other terms - one was the mental life, the other was the emotional life. Those are pretty everyday terms. And I said, to go further, I have to describe the behavior of such individual. If you want me to do that, I can.

Q. No. Then isn't it fair, Doctor, that you cannot give us some concrete or concise definition without going into the relative symptoms?

A. I couldn't give the precise definition of any illness, typhoid or pneumonia, or any illness, without describing the illness, which means describing either the signs or the symptoms.

Q. You couldn't describe, for instance, diabetes in such a way that all of us would understand just exactly what the disease diabetes is, so that we perhaps would recognize it if we saw it? Supposing you try, Doctor. What in your opinion is a definition of diabetes? 

A. That is a - you have a particularly difficult one from your point of view.

Q. You pick a simple one. Take dandruff.

A. Well, I will try diabetes. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism, which means body chemistry, of such a nature that the body cannot burn carbohydrates, or sugars, in the normal way. The result is that sugar in the form of glucose piles up in the bloodstream, spills out in the urine. And associated with that is an improper metabolism of fat, sometimes leading to acidosis. That in a sense is the mechanism. But you have to go into the story, first, of the symptoms of acidosis, of frequent passage of urine, the effects that a high blood sugar content has on the body and its tendency to infection. It would be very difficult to give a layman a picture of diabetes without immediately getting into the symptoms, because there are other conditions, for example, in which sugar can spill out into the urine which are not diabetic.

Q. Can we say, Doctor, and then go on to something else, that a psychopathic personality is a disorder of character which has then, again, many symptoms, without describing what the symptoms are? In other words, it is a disorder of the person's did you say mental and emotional make-up?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And then it has certain, I think you said, variegated symptoms?

A. I spoke of behavior....


Q. Now, Doctor, when you started to describe the different symptoms of a person with a psychopathic personality you ran through 12 or so, and you said chronic, persistent and repetitive lying; stealing, deception; alcoholism and drug addiction; abnormal sexuality; vagabondage; panhandling. For our purposes, Doctor, we can eliminate immediately three of those, can't we -- drug addiction, alcoholism and sexual abnormality? There is nothing in the hypothetical question that you have that even touches on any of those?

A. That is right.

Q. Right. So that we have -- the first one I think you talked about when you started to outline the characteristics was the lying, the repetitive lying pattern. Doctor, let me ask you, do people who lie necessarily give to a psychiatrist a symptom of a psychopathic personality just by lying?

A. Well, I have a case in mind of a patient--

Q. I have a number, too. But can you tell me generally, Doctor, whether people who lie, just that abstract thing, people who lie, would that indicate to a trained psychiatrist that that person has one of the symptoms of a psychopathic personality?

A. Obviously not one lie, but a history of repetitive lying over 25 years or so would be evidence in the direction of that diagnosis.

Q. In other words, one lie by itself would mean nothing to you as a trained psychiatrist?

A. Isolated lie, isolated any event would mean nothing.

Q. Any event would mean nothing?

A. If it were isolated from the rest of the behavior.

Q. Let us suppose an occasional lie to your wife.

A. Pardon?

Q. What would that indicate, Doctor, an occasional lie to your wife as to whether you actually worked that night
or didn't.

A. What would that indicate?

Q. Would it indicate a symptom of a psychopathic personality?

A. I wouldn't say so.

Q. You wouldn't think so.


Q. Let us suppose, Doctor, a taxpayer lied a little bit in his income tax return on his contributions or expenses. What do you think that would indicate? A symptom of a psychopathic personality?

A. It could; not necessarily.

Q. It could. It could indicate a symptom?

A. I could indicate a symptom. There would be an awful lot of psychopaths if that were the criterion.

Q. Supposing, Doctor, you were stopped by a policeman who said that you were speeding; you told him: that you had a hurry call for a patient, had to get there by a certain time, and you lied a little bit and you ended up I with no ticket, no ticket. Would that indicate a symptom I of a psychopathic personality?

A. Certainly not.

Q. Well, let us suppose that some of us tell our children that there is a Santa Clause and continue that statement to children over a period of years until they are adolescent. Would you say that that indicates on the part of the parents a symptom of psychopathic personality?

A. No, I wouldn't.

Q. Would you say that telling the children for many, many years that the Stork brings the baby -- would that indicate that the parent perhaps was manifesting a symptom of psychopathic personality?

A. Well, if the parents believed it I would think it might. 

Q. You think that if a parent told his child that the child was brought by a stork, and that that parent, talking to his or her child, believed it, that that would be only a psychopathic personality symptom?

A. Oh no; it would be a symptom of much else.

Q. You said it. I am talking, Doctor, about psychopathic personalities, and I am trying to develop what you mean when you talk about the symptom of lying; and doesn't it come down to this, Doctor, that if there is a purpose for the lying, good or bad, but if there is a purpose, that it is not a symptom at all?

A. Not at all.

Q. Not at all?

A. No. Psychopaths usually have a purpose when they lie.

Q. Yes, but is it a real purpose?

A. Well, it may be a real purpose; it may be a fantasy; it may be very real; it may be to accomplish the destruction of somebody or some thing.

Q. Well, tell us, Doctor, the purpose of a parent telling a child that Santa Clause comes at Christmas -- why is that not a psychopathic symptom? The parent has a purpose.

A. That is an accepted piece of folk mythology, and parents simply take on what is traditional; it has no malign purpose.

Q. No malign purpose?

A. No.

Q. The purpose has to be malign in order to come within a psychopathic personality symptom?

A. It does not have to be. It often is.

Q. It often is? How about lying to your wife to avoid an unpleasant argument?

A. Pretty normal.

Q. Normal?

A. Pretty normal performance.

Q. Some lying is normal, Doctor?

A. In the sense of statistically normal, yes. It is undesirable, I think.

Q. Yes, but consistent with a purpose, Doctor? Let us suppose it is consistent with a purpose.

A. That doesn't matter. It doesn't change it.

Q. Let us suppose, Doctor, that you were captured in the last war and you were constantly being plagued in
violation of all of the treaties, and asked questions beyond, your name and rank, and so forth, asked where you were stationed, how many men were billeted with you, what you were doing, what the troops were doing, what they had done last, and so forth, and you consistently told a story of the most outlandish lies for the purpose of deceiving your captors, would you say you were evidencing a symptom of psychopathic personality at that time?

A. No, I would not.

Q. Because you had a definite purpose in lying, isn't that correct, Doctor?

Q. But it has a purpose. Doctor, wouldn't you say that lying to your wife rather than to have an argument about something that is inconsequential is not a psychopathic symptom?

A. Is not?

Q. Is not.

A. Well, you would have to give me the example of what kind of lie and under what circumstances. You don't make a diagnosis on the basis of an isolated episode.

Q. In other words, Doctor, don't you have to know what is behind the reason for the lie in order to form an opinion, as a doctor?

Q. Doesn't it help, then, Doctor, in analyzing the symptoms to find out what the specific purpose was in lying so as to learn whether or not it is just the ordinary normal statistical lying, or something else?

A. Yes, it would help.

Q. Now, you assumed, Doctor, that when Mr. Chambers lied to Dean Hawkes when he went back to Columbia the second time that that was a symptom of psychopathic personality, did you not?

A. Yes, it was taken into consideration with the letter he wrote to Mark Van Doren in which he said, "I lied quite simply when I told Dean Hawkes." That is, a lie without any feeling of shame or guilt or remorse is more likely to be of this nature, and here he wrote to Mark Van Doren, "I lied quite simply when I told Dean Hawkes," and so forth and so on.

Q. And, of course, not disclosing the trust or violating the trust that they had placed in you as an officer; that would not be psychopathic lying?

A. It could be but it does not need to be.

Q. It does not need to be?

A. No.

A. I was trying to save my ---

Q. Not even malign?

A. That is right.

Q. But you have had a specific purpose in mind, the purpose of deceiving your captors?

A. That is right.

Q. Well, Doctor, he was part of the faculty and the Dean was the boss; you will go that far, won't you?

A. I guess that is right, yes.

Q. Now, you don't attach any significance to those facts, do you, in arriving at this conclusion of yours that

Q. In other words, you thought that was a symptom because, one, it was in writing, and, two, because he used the words "quite simply"?

A. Because he seemed to accept it as a pelfectly acceptable form of dealing with the Dean of Columbia.

Q. Doctor, you realize, of course, that in the assumed state of facts he had written this letter to a fellow professor n that is, an associate of the Dean; he wrote it to Professor Van Doren who was his faculty adviser; you realize that, of course?

A. Yes I do.

Q. In other words, within a short time after he lied, as he said, quite simply, he reduced his confession to writing and he made it known to his faculty adviser, a man associated in the academic circles with the Dean; you considered those facts, did you not, Doctor, in forming an expert opinion that that was evidence of a symptom of psychopathic personality?

A. I do not base my diagnosis on one lie.

Q. No, but even on that lie, Doctor, you considered those facts, that he was telling it in writing to a fellow professor of the Dean, his faculty adviser?

A. I do not assume that Professor Van Doren was an associate of the Dean more than an associate of a student who was his advisee.

Q. Well, Doctor, he was part of the faculty and the Dean was the boss; you will go that far, won't you?

A. I guess that is right, yes.

Q. Now, you don't attach any significance to those facts, do you, in arriving at this conclusion of yours that  those were the circumstances under which he made his confession known?

A. Well, he did not make a confession. He simply wrote to Van Doren and said, "I lied quite simply to the Dean and that is how I got back in. 

Q. And isn't that a confession? He said, "I lied" and he told somebody, his adviser--

A. I don't know his relationship to Professor Van Doren. I can't say whether that is a confession or not. It is a statement of fact, I take it.

Q. There was testimony that Professor Van Doren was his faculty adviser, and my question to you is whether you took those facts into consideration in forming an opinion that this statement of fact that he lied quite simply was evidence of a symptom of psychopathic personality?

A. I didn't take that into account.

Q. You didn't take it into consideration? If I asked you to now, would it change your opinion?

A. No, it would not. I have been thinking about it while you were talking.

Q. Doctor, assuming that that is the only lie for a period of 20 years that you had evidence of in your hypothetical question -- and bear in mind that was in, let us say, 1922 -- as I remember the hypothetical question there was no evidence of other lies as such for a period of, say, 20 years, would that be a symptom of psychopathic personality, a person who told one lie in 20 years?

A. It depends upon what else he did in those 20 years.

Q. Yes, Doctor, but you were telling the Court and jury about the symptoms of repetitive lying, and you started out with that as an assumed fact in 1922, and then there was a hiatus, an absence of lying for a period of 20 years; could you honestly, Doctor, as a skilled psychiatrist tell the jury that that was evidence of repetitive lying -- to use that phrase -- repetitive lying?

A. Obviously one lie can't be evidence of repetitive lying. 

Q. Of course not. Assuming, Doctor, that within a very short time he wrote another letter to the professor and the professor's wife, wrote a letter jointly --

A. To Van Doren?

Q. Professor Van Doren and Professor Van Doren's wife, and he said that he joined the Communist Party on February 15, 1925; put that in writing, in the year 1925; would you say that that fact was evidence of a man who had some psychopathic personality at that time? In other words, to frankly admit in writing in the 20s that he joined the Communist Party?

A. That seems to me to have no bearing.

Q. No bearing at all?

A. No.

Q. In other words, a person who frankly tells his former, faculty adviser that he has joined the Communist Party in writing 

A. In 1925?

Q. Yes, -- has no bearing at all on your sum total of facts?

A. Not at that time. It might be different now.

Q. Well, supposing I said that he addressed the letter as "Dear Dorothy and Mark," would that give you a clue as to the relationship?

A. Well, I presume it was one of friendship, then.

Q. That is, a student to a faculty adviser. Wouldn't you venture the opinion, Doctor, that it was a little bit higher in the realm of friendship that most students with their professors?

Q. Wouldn't it be some evidence of his non-lying proclivities?

A. Well, if it was truthful and he 

Q. Well, we are assuming, Doctor, that it was truthful. You have assumed things to be truthful. Let us assume that that is truthful. Wouldn't it sort of balance the other in some way? Here is a man who writes a letter to his faculty adviser and says, "I lied quite simply to the Dean; I told him that I was coming back to school because I wanted to teach history; actually all I want to do is study it; and then a little while later he writes to the Dean and says, "I am out and I have joined the C.P."?

A Writes the Dean?

Q. Writes his faculty adviser, rather, and says, "I have joined the Communist Party"? -- wouldn't one sort of wash out the other, Doctor, in your mind as a trained psychiatrist?

A. They seem to me to have nothing to do with each other.

Q. Nothing to do?

A. No. I don't know what his relationship with Mr. Van Doren was or what Mr. Van Doren's attitude was.

A. Oh, certainly.

Q. And wouldn't you say, Doctor, too, that each of the letters would be an indication of a complete frankness, complete frankness on the part of Mr. Chambers?

A. With the Van Dorens?

Q. With the Van Dorens.

A. In so far as I know it sounds like a frank statement.

Q. Now, in his application for a passport, Doctor, in the name of Breen, if you knew that he made that application -- if you assumed that he made that application to the State Department pursuant to orders as a soldier in the Communist Party, would you say that that would be evidence or a symptom of psychopathic personality?

A. I would say it was evidence of a lie.

Q. We are trying to find out whether it was a lie that you could use, as a trained psychiatrist, to express an 
opinion that the man was a psychopathic personality.

A. My opinion is based, as I have said repeatedly, on a whole life pattern as far as I know it.

Q. Doctor, what we are now trying to show to this jury is that your opinion is based upon facts which would not give to a psychiatrist that opinion; and I am trying to show, and asking you now, Doctor, where he applied for a false passport as a paid functionary of the Communist Party, using birth certificates supplied to him by his superiors; in other words, he was acting as a soldier in a cause that he believed in, would you say, Doctor, that that would be evidence to you as a trained psychiatrist that there is a symptom of psychopathic personality?

A. It is evidence to me only of another lie or a series of lies.

Q. Doctor, would you in evaluating the lies, if that is the only evidence which was before you, and there were 25 questions, and each was answered falsely, would you say that that was 25 lies or just one false lie all with relation to a false passport?

A. Oh, no, I would group them together around the
general idea of the passport.

Q. You would say it was the passport lie?

A. Except one would pay some attention to the extraordinary details of the lie.

Q. Doctor, you know as a fact, don't you, that during the war many, many hundreds of our officers in O.S.S. left this country under false passports and false names; do you know that as a fact, Doctor?

A. I believe it to be true.

Q. Why, of course. And when those men applied, on instructions from our Government, to the Passport Division with phony passport material and ended up with a passport in not their own names, what would they be, Doctor? Would they be liars?

A. No, they would be loyal American citizens.

Q. And you would not attach any significance at all in analyzing that as a symptom of psychopathic personality for those men, would you?

A. Not unless I had a history of lying before and after that event.


January 11, 1950:

Q. Doctor, did you say the only criterion you have to determine whether a person in a psychopathic personality is whether a person's behavior is bizzare or queer?... Now, would you say that the study of French and German by yourself would be bizarre behavior?

A. I would not say that.

Q. Would you say that the slanting of new stories would be bizarre behavior?

A. I think that is an acceptable form of behavior in the journalistic trade.

Q. So that would not be bizarre?

A. It would be to me but not to the people who do the writing. I am sure that what I do would be bizarre to them.

Q. Doctor, you said that in determining what is an example of bizarre behavior is whether or not the reasonable person does it; isn't that the test more or less?

A. That is pretty much it, yes.

Q. Now, the living in a common law relationship with Ida Dailes -- is that bizarre? Was it bizarre?

A. I wouldn't say so.

Q. I think you said that leaving Williams College impulsively was bizarre.

A. I think leaving on a night train after having been there two days and suddenly changing your mind is certainly not very reasonable or deliberate or the way you would expect a more rational person to behave. That also is not a conspicuous example of it.

Q. Well, is it bizarre, doctor, under your definition?

A. Relatively.

Q. Relatively?

A. Yes.

Q. When you testified you said that he left -- I think you said he left impulsively. Did you assume that as one of the facts, that he left impulsively?

A. Yes.

Q. Doctor, assuming that it was two or three days, and that his roommate had bought some secondhand furniture to furnish their room, and then one evening there was sort of a freshman dinner to which they each were invited and he told his roommate that he did not want to go, that he had a problem that he had to think out, and he did in fact, go; he told his roommate that he was going to consult the Scriptures -- would that be bizarre behavior up that point?

Q. Of course not. Reading the Scriptures would not be bizarre, would it? .

A. Well, to a man who thinks of himself as an atheist it might be, but certainly not ordinarily.

Q. Well, Doctor, this was in the beginning of his college career.

A. Yes?

Q. Did you assume that he was an atheist then?

A. No.

Q. SO that reading the Bible in an attempt to solve a problem, you do not consider bizarre?

A. No, it might be quite the reverse.

Q. What is the reverse of bizarre?

A. Sensible.

Q. Sensible?

A. Yes.

Q. And you said that what was bizarre was the fact that he left at midnight to catch a midnight train. Do all people who catch midnight trains, Doctor, exhibit bizarre behavior at all?

A. They could. They don't need to necessarily. It depends upon why they do it.

Q. Doctor, you have been in the Grand Central at midnight, haven't you?

A. Yes.

Q. All those people running and scurrying for trains, you would not ascribe to them bizarre behavior?

A. I wouldn't have any idea what the meaning of their behavior was.

Q. Doctor, if a train left at midnight to go to New York and he got on the midnight train, isn't that what,
reasonable person would do?

A. Yes, if the train left at midnight and he got then one o'clock it might be bizarre behavior.

Q. Doctor, the testimony is that he got a midnight train nothing bizarre about that by itself, is there?

A. Nothing whatever.

Q. And I think you said that one who consults the Bible-- I think George Washington consulted the Bible at Valley Forge when he had a problem, didn't he?

A. That is correct.

Q. Now, Doctor, you said that another evidence bizarre behavior was the fact that he had written -- I think the phrase you used -- a good many letters to his roommate, and in one of the letters he asked the roommate
go to the post office and to get another letter and to real dress it to him or to mail it to him. You did not assume your state of facts, Doctor, what the contents of those letters were, did you, the six letters?

A. There is certainly nothing bizarre about writing letters to your ex-roommate, and I did not use that as a
example of bizarre behavior.

Q. You did not?

A. No, not the writing of the letters, no. I did assume--

Q. The bizarre behavior was the writing of the one letter, asking him to go to the post office and open a letter and re-send it, or something?

A. One letter not addressed either to his own name or to his roommate's name but to another name.

Q. But if those are all the facts that you know and the jury knows, Doctor, about that, one letter, is that suffi
cient for you to say that that was bizarre, that that was not what a reasonable person would do?

A. I don't think a reasonable person would write a letter to somebody who was not at Williams and who was not his roommate and then ask his roommate to go to the post office and send the letter back to him.

Q. Well, without anything more, Doctor, do you have enough facts to describe that as bizarre?

A. I think just the fact that I have stated I would regard as bizarre behavior.

Q. Really?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, would you describe as bizarre the fact that a person would save over a period of many years an ordinary window envelope? Do you know what a window envelope is, Doctor, with a little piece of isinglass so you can read the address from the letter proper?

A. Yes.

Q. Would that be bizarre behavior, just saving an envelope, that type of envelope for a long period of time?

A. I would have to know what it was all about. It might be and it might not be.

Q. Of course. And wouldn't you have to know more about the letters to really attribute to that one letter
whether or not the action was bizarre or not?

A. I am not talking about the letter; I am talking about writing one letter to a person under another name and to a person who was not at Williams, and asking his roommate to get the letter and send it back to him.

Q. Doctor, if you know nothing more about it is that enough for you to say as a doctor that it is bizarre?

A. Well, it is suggestive.

Q. Suggestive?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, what you did describe as bizarre, Doctor, was the giving of rather important papers, Mr. Chambers
handing over important papers to his wife's nephew, whereas the ordinary, reasonable, normal person would have put them in a bank. Did you know, Doctor, or did you assume that that person who received the papers was an attorney practicing here in New York City and a relative of Mr. Chambers? Did you know that the papers were handed to him?

A. At that time he was an attorney?

Q. Yes.

A. I have heard that he was a lawyer.

Q. In describing the actions as bizarre do you say now that the giving of valuable papers to an attorney and telling the attorney to keep these in a safe place, "and if anything happens to me, disclose them" -- is that bizarre behavior, Doctor?

A. I think one has to take into account the nature of the papers, what was involved in the papers; and also the fact that he then testified that he had forgotten about their existence.

Q. Well, let us treat each separately, Doctor, if we can Do you say to this Court and jury that when a person gives papers that he attaches value or significance to an attorney, and the attorney is also a relative, that that fact manifests bizarre behavior?

A. Not on that assumption, no.

Q. So that it is consistent with those people who would put it in a bank to give it to an attorney?
A. Of course, you are asking me to assume part of the truth and not all of the truth. But in so far as you have gone --

Q. Wait just a minute, Doctor. I did not know that you were able to tell which was part of the truth and which was not part of the truth.

A. By "truth" I mean what I have been asked to assume in the hypothetical question.

Q. Doctor, assuming that the testimony in this case shows that Mr. Chambers sometime in 1938 gave some
of these papers that are in evidence here to his wife's nephew, who was a duly licensed practicing attorney in this city, with instructions to keep them for safekeeping, and if anything happened to him to disclose their contents -- now, as far as I have gone I think you have to agree with mc, Doctor, that that is not bizarre behavior?

A. I do agree with you.

Q. Now, you say what is bizarre is the assumed fact that he said he had forgotten he had them?

A. That is right. Papers of such tremendous importance.

Q. Now, do we have bizarre behavior evidenced by forgetfulness; in other words, by the absence of act?

A. Yes.

Q. You do?
A. Yes.

Q. Would you say that it was bizarre behavior when he went in 1948 to his wife's nephew and asked for what he had given him in 1938 -- is that bizarre?

A. No.

Q. Now, you have attached significance to the fact and described it as bizarre behavior, the fact that Mr. Chambers left a typewriter in a streetcar or elevated in 1940, Doctor, is it bizarre behavior for people to destroy or to get rid of things, physical chattels that remind them of the past? Is that bizarre behavior?

A. No. I think abandoning a typewriter on a streetcar which you have carried here from Baltimore in order to forget the past is not the way the ordinary man behaves.

Q. You knew, of course, Doctor, or assumed in your state of facts that he was then working on Time and living on a farm in Maryland, didn 't you?

A. That is right.

Q. And that he commuted each week, stayed in New York a number of days and then went back to his farm; there was no testimony that he took the typewriter specifically with him, that he just took it as part of the trip and abandoned it.

A. Yes.

Q. So the significance you attach is the abandonment on a streetcar or subway, or wherever it was?

A. That is right.

Q; But the ordinary person, Doctor, who discards something that reminds him of the past -- is that bizarre
behavior by itself?

A. No, it need not be.

Q. Thousands of women throwaway their wedding rings in Reno, don't they?

A. I would believe it if you told me so.

Q. Well, you know it as a matter of common knowledge, don't you -- as a fact?

A. I never thought of that but I guess it must be true.

Q. Now, assuming, Doctor, that Mr. Chambers wanted to get rid of this typewriter because it had been given to him by his Communist conspirators early in 1930, and it was reminding him of those horrible days when he was a Communist, but rather than destroy it he wanted to let somebody get some use of it, and he left it in the streetcar so that somebody could get use of it, and then he would not have it traced back to him but somebody would get some use of it -- would you say that that nevertheless was bizarre?

A. Is that what you want me to assume?

Q. Yes.

A. It is certainly unusual behavior.

Q. Yes, but doesn't it also show, Doctor, a man who just can't let things be destroyed; somebody could get use of a thing like that, and doesn't that manifests Sort of kindly spirit?
A. If you want me to assume that I will have to assume it.

Q. Well, yes, assuming those are the facts, Doctor.

A. I still think it is very unusual kind of behavior.

Q. Well, doesn't it also express a rather likable spirit too?

A. You might interpret it that way.

Q. Do you?

A. I interpret it as very extraordinary to abandon typewriter on a streetcar.

Q. Now, Doctor, you said another exhibition of bizarre behavior was the putting of the microfilm, the developed strip and the undeveloped films in a pumpkin. Can you think of any similar act during our American history where somebody else did a somewhat similar thing?

A. No. You will have to tell me. I can't remember.

Q. Do you remember, Doctor, during the Revolutionary times when they put the charter in the charter oak up in Hartford to hide it from the British?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. Were the actions of those people at that time bizarre in hiding it in a tree, just an old paper?

A. Well, that was a very primitive community and in older times, and they did not have repositories for valuable documents, and I can see the analogy but I still regard hollowing out a pumpkin and putting microfilms in it as sufficiently bizarre so that when I read about it I was immediately arrested by the fact, as were a great many other people, because it is not the way a modern Twentieth Century human being, even living on a farm, usually behaves.

Q. Now, Doctor, you have said something there and I don't know whether or not you meant to say it. You said when you read about it. You are testifying here exclusively, I take it, on the hypothetical question and your observations in court?

A. That is right.

Q. And when you read about it you are referring, I take it, to some newspaper article?

A. That is right.

Q. And that did not interfere with your judgment when you expressed your opinion as a doctor here, did it?

A. I have done my utmost not to let anything interfere with my judgment.

Q. Well, you did not include the knowledge that you have acquired from reading newspapers? --

A. No, no.

Q. -- when you gave us your opinion here?

A. Certainly not.

Q. Is it safe to say, Doctor, that you excluded from your mind all extraneous evidence and relied on your observations and the assumed facts in the hypothetical question?

A. In so far as that is psychologically possible I have made every effort to do so.

Q. You say that a man who was living on a farm in 1948, who puts pretty valuable papers in a pumpkin that
he has hollowed out right by his door, is bizarre?

A. I say the act is bizarre.

Q. The act is bizarre?

A. Because it is unusual. Perhaps there is one other example in history that you have given.

Q. If, Doctor, you assume that these microfilms were previously in his house and he moved them from room to room, and that the day that he put them in the pumpkin was the day that he was going to leave his farm, and assume further that there were different people in and about the farm looking for things, wouldn't you say, Doctor, that that was a pretty good hiding place?

A. It was.

Q. No matter how bizarre it was?

A. It certainly was a good hiding place, yes.

Q. All right. As a matter of fact, don't you remember reading, Doctor, that when Benedict Arnold sold out West Point and gave the plans to Major Andre, do you know where he put the plans when he was caught, just up here by Tarrytown?

A. No, I don't.

Q. He had them in the boot of his shoe, the sale of his boot. Was that bizarre on the part of an intelligent British officer?

A. No, I wouldn't say so.

Q. Well, how about the mother of Moses hiding the little child in the bulrushes? Was that bizarre?

A. Well, she could hardly put it in a safe deposit vault.

Q. Now, Doctor, you don't tell us that all things that don't fit in safe deposit boxes are therefore bizarre, do
you? .

A. No, I don't.

Q. I am asking you, Doctor, whether the action of Moses' mother in putting the young child in the bulrushes
was bizarre behavior?

A. I don't know the circumstances and I wouldn't know where else she had to hide the child. If that was the only place, it certainly was not bizarre.

Q. You know what her fear was, don't you?

A. Yes.

Q. There was an edict out to kill all Hebrew children.

A. That is right.

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