Monday, July 8, 2019

Better Call Paul

Paul Caruso and Art "Golden Boy" Aragon 1957
I was always under the impression that the legal team who represented the defendants in the Tate-LaBianca case were not particularly well known (aside from perhaps Kanarek who was more infamous then famous). I at least believed that they were not the same caliber as O.J. Simpson's "dream team". It turns out I was wrong. 

“Call Paul” became a popular anthem among celebrities in trouble- whether actors athletes or accountants- in Los Angeles in the 1950’s through the 1980’s.

(Myrna Oliver, Paul Caruso,Attorney for Celebrities, Los Angeles times, Thursday, August 16, 2001.) 

Paul Caruso was born February 28, 1920 in Frankfort, New York. He was one of six children of Vito and Rosalie ("Rose") Caruso who immigrated to upstate New York from Italy (Sicily to be more precise) in 1914. 

In the 1940 census his father’s occupation is listed as “proprietor”. In the 1930 census it is listed as “Merchant” and in 1925 as “meat market”. Putting that together it appears his father owned a butcher shop. 

Los Angeles Times, Wednesday September 6, 1950
Caruso spent his childhood in Frankfort. In 1942 he joined the military and served as an officer in the Marines during World War II and in the Korea n War achieving the rank of major . He attended  Washington DC's Columbus University School of Law, now the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America. Caruso was admitted to the California Bar in 1953. 

In 1950 Caruso married Lucille Anderson in Los Angeles. The wedding reception was at the home of Macdonald Carey who played Dr. Tom Horton on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. Carey was a war buddy of Caruso. 

Paul and Lucille Caruso had three sons and two daughters. Two of his sons are currently attorneys. He married his second wife Gloria Salamone after the death of Lucille in 1980. Caruso retired from the practice of law in 1997. Paul Caruso passed away August 14, 2001. 

Of all the attorneys associated with the Tate-LaBianca case Paul Caruso was the only one that could appropriately be described as a ‘high powered’ or 'famous' defense lawyer. By 1969 he already had a reputation for successfully representing the rich and famous in criminal and civil trials and in their divorces. Following his brief appearance in Tate-LaBianca his practice would continue along the same lines through the 1980’s and into the 1990’s. 

One thing is certain from the research, Paul Caruso enjoyed being in the press and saw it as a form of advertising before lawyers were allowed to advertise. There are literally hundreds of mentions of Caruso in press clippings throughout his career. Nearly every mention of a trial includes him speaking to reporters before or after the trial, or both. Caruso freely admitted he would represent members of the press and LA radio and TV commentators at a cut rate just so that they would mention him or interview him. One, Tom Duggan (known for his crusade against corruption in politics and the "mobs" involvement in boxing) was constantly referring on the air to: "My lawyer, Paul Caruso". He was frequently interviewed by reporters in connection with cases where he was only an observer such as the Sirhan Sirhan trial and later, the O.J. Simpson trial. 

An Overview of Paul Caruso’s Career 

Sports: “The Barrister of Boxing”

Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, September 23, 1970

Caruso and Art "Golden Boy" Aragon
In 1956 boxer, Art “Golden Boy” Aragon was accused of offering another fighter Dick Goldstein $500 to “take a dive in the fourth round” of their scheduled fight in Texas. The fight never happened as Aragon fell ill. The Los Angeles DA got involved in the matter and questioned both Aragon and “ex-mobster" Mickey Cohen” about the incident. Aragon called Paul. 

In February 1957 Aragon was convicted of attempting to fix the fight. However, Caruso recurred a reversal of the verdict at the appellate court. He argued successfully that the judge's ridicule of Aragon from the bench (Aragon had a habit of speaking out as witnesses testified) and treatment of him during the trial had rendered it impossible to secure a fair trial. Caruso also succeeded in restoring Aragon's boxing license. Caruso became Aragon's manager and remained his attorney. Aragon was linked by the press romantically with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield.

The Aragon case launched Caruso's 'sports law' career. He represented several boxers as either their lawyer, manager of agent. He managed Aragon, Jerry Quarry and others over the years earning the nickname "The Barrister of Boxing". His representation soon spread into other sports. 

In 1956 he represented the LA Rams players in a wage dispute with management. “No pay, no play”- the players were demanding salaries during the until then, unpaid, exhibition season: veterans $70 a week and $50 a week for rookies. 

In 1961 Caruso represented Carl Furillo, former Los Angeles Dodger in an arbitration over payment for the last two years of his contract with the team. 

In 1965 he represented two women wrestlers who had been denied a license to wrestle in the state of California because “the state’s police powers gave it the right to classify the type of jobs women can hold” and wrestling was an inappropriate occupation for women, “just like bartending”. Caruso won. 

In 1967 he defended Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel on drunk driving charges. 

In 1969 Caruso sued Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) for $1m on behalf of a Dennis Grey who played for the American Basketball Association (ABA) team, the LA Stars (also Caruso’s client). Caruso alleged that Alcindor had punched Grey breaking his jaw during a pick-up basketball game at a high school. 

By the summer of 1969 Caruso was representing the Los Angeles Stars of the ABA. He was a central figure in the early negotiations to merge the ABA and the NBA. That effort failed and most of the ABA teams, including the Stars, folded in the next few years. 

In 1980 Caruso was LA Ram’s quarterback Vince Ferragamo’s agent. During his contract dispute with the team Caruso staged what became known as the “one day hold-out”. To “move negotiations along” Caruso had Ferragamo announce that he wasn't going to play unless his contract was renegotiated after Pat Haden the Rams starting quarterback broke his finger in a game against Detroit the week prior. Caruso then 'hid' from the team's representatives for one day as they frantically sought to get in touch with him. 

Divorce and Related Cases

Caruso’s first appearance in the press related to divorce cases was in 1955. That year he represented a millionaire, 82-year old oilman named Samuel Allen Guiberson Jr. in his divorce from his 26-year old “former dancer” wife.

He represented Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, in his divorce from his wife, Francis in 1959. The settlement granted her one half the royalties from his book, Baa Baa Black Sheep and 50% of his earnings from an upcoming movie about his WWII exploits together with 50% of his first year’s salary from a TV series he was starring in at the time called Danger Zone….and the house in Burbank. 

Caruso represented the actress Anna Kashfi, the former wife of Marlon Brando in a child custody dispute with Brando in 1961. 

He represented Gussy Moran, former tennis player, in her divorce that same year. Moran is best known for the controversy she sparked at Wimbledon in 1949. Her outfit, a short tennis dress with ruffled, lace-trimmed knickers, was short enough for her knickers to be visible during the match. Her outfit drew considerable attention; reporters covering the event began calling her "Gorgeous Gussie", and photographers fought for positions where they could get low shots of Moran, with the hope of sneaking a peak. The event scandalized Wimbledon officials, prompting a debate in Parliament.  

In 1961 Caruso also represented Terry Huntington, former Miss USA 1959 and the US representative in the 1959 Miss Universe pageant in a paternity case against an LA attorney, Arthur Crowley. The case gained some notoriety at the time as Crowley claimed that Huntington was a call girl who had earned in excess of $6,000 during the time he knew her. 

Los Angeles Times, Wednesday September 12, 1962
In 1962 he represented Pamela Mason, wife of James Mason in her divorce securing, eventually, a settlement consisting in part of alimony and child support of $5000 a month. How Caruso could have represented Mason in 1958 (see, below) and his wife in 1962 is a bit of a mystery. 

In 1967 Caruso represented LA Dodger, Al Ferrara in his divorce. That same year he also represented former football star, Bob Waterfield in his “bitter divorce” from actress, Jane Russell. He would later defend their adopted son against murder charges.

In 1968 he represented Lee Breedlove, wife of Craig Breedlove (who set the world land speed record in 1965 travelling 600.601 mph). Ms. Breedlove set the world land speed record for women that same year travelling 332.26 mph. 

In 1968 Caruso represented Ann Marie Conniff, wife of Ray Conniff. Her allegation was that he would “frequently abandon her with a house full of guests” and “leave the home for extended periods once going to Hawaii without telling her”. The case settled. Ms. Conniff received royalty payments estimated at $750,000 and the family home. 

Caruso represented Patricia Parker in a 1970 paternity suit against Elvis Presley. In 1972 the case was dropped by Caruso. No explanation was given in the press. 

Caruso represented Donna Ann Borgnine the fourth wife of actor Ernest Borgnine in her divorce in 1971. Caruso wanted extra money from Borgnine to hire guards to protect his client from her husband's constant threats. 

In 1975 Caruso represented Billie Jean Campbell in her divorce from Glen Campbell.

Criminal Defense

Caruso was best known for his criminal defense work. He was, by most accounts one of the best.

Caruso represented Isaac Berger, world feather-weight and 1956 Olympic weight-lifting champion in 1959. Berger was accused of felony child molestation along with several other weight-lifters down at Muscle Beach. From what I was able to tell the charges related to the weight-lifters showing the young girls certain “morally improper photographs” and otherwise “associating” with the young girls (described as “runaways”) ages 14 and 12. Caruso secured a dismissal of the charges against Berger. 

Caruso defended fashion designed Don Loper against felony hit and run charges in 1962. This one is fun because comedian Jerry Lewis witnessed the event and chased Loper using the “radio telephone” in his car to guide police to Loper. 

In 1964 Caruso represented Minola Gallardo in her highly publicized murder trial. Gillardo was accused of stabbing to death her sister’s husband, a “millionaire yachtsman” named William Bartholomae. Caruso claimed his client entered the kitchen to find 70-year old Bartholomae standing over her sister, who was passed out on the floor. Bartholomae, according to his client had a knife in his hand. According to Caruso, Gallardo believed Bartholomae was attacking her sister and rushed to her aid. In the struggle that followed Gillardo somehow accidently stabbed Bartholomae fatally several times in the back. Gallardo was acquitted. 

The Hatchet Man. In 1965 Caruso represented a wonderful fellow named Rocco (Rocky) Passanante at least so far as to arrange his surrender (at Caruso’s home). Rocky's arrest followed charges of assault with intent to commit murder originating from an incident in Palm Springs. Passanante also was facing multiple extortion charges. His MO was to threaten his victims with a hatchet. 

In 1970 Caruso represented Audie Murphy who was charged with assaulting a dog trainer with the "intent to commit murder'. According to the press clippings, Murphy accompanied a female friend to contest the man’s treatment of her dog. A scuffle ensued and a gun was discharged four times in the direction of the victim. None of the shots hit anyone. Caruso claimed the alleged victim, David Goldstein, had actually assaulted Murphy. Murphy was also alleged to have slapped Goldstein’s wife several times during the brawl. Caruso persuaded the jury that  Murphy, credited with killing 282 German soldiers in one day, couldn't possibly have fired four times at Goldstein on purpose and missed. Later, Caruso would claim he made sure the jury consisted of WWII veterans and enlarged an image of Murphy’s Medal of Honor for the jury to see. However, the jury was actually made up of eight men and four women. Murphy was acquitted none-the-less.

That same year Caruso represented Eugene (Gino) Massaro. Massaro was acquitted in connection with a home invasion. Massaro, according to the FBI files, was a suspect in the murder of Joel Rostau who some connect to the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Los Angeles Times, Saturday, December 12, 1970

In 1971 TV sportscaster Stan Duke was charged with shooting radio commentator Averill Berman. Duke shot and killed Berman at his estranged wife’s home after “peering in the window for a time” and watching them “making love”. Duke was found guilty and sentenced to five years to life for the crime. Caruso defended the case by claiming that Duke suffered from ‘diminished capacity’, which resulted in a second degree (versus first degree) murder conviction. 

In 1973 former New York Yankee, Jerry Priddy was arrested on extortion charges by the FBI after they delivered a quarter of a million dollars to a location near his office (the money was actually fake). Priddy had called the cruise ship company Princess Lines repeatedly threatening to blow up the liner Island Princess if the ransom was not paid. Caruso claimed that an anonymous caller to Priddy had threatened his wife and family if he didn't cooperate. Priddy was convicted but Caruso arranged for his celebrity clients and friends (40 of them) to write letters to the court including Bob Hope and Gene Autry. As a result, Priddy received only a 9 month sentence.

Caruso represented Jane Russell’s adopted son, Bucky in 1976. Bucky Waterfield had been charged with second degree murder. The DA claimed that Waterfield, sitting in his car, had intentionally fired his gun into the window of a local bar killing a man. Caruso claimed Waterfield shot at a sign above the bar but that the shot missed its target and accidentally killed the patron of the bar. Waterfield was charged with second degree murder but was convicted of manslaughter. 

Note the cane in his left hand.

Santa Maria Times, Friday, October 15, 1976

In 1977 he represented Evel Knieval after Knieval attacked Sheldon Saltman with a baseball bat. Saltman had written a book about Knieval's life which was, according to Knievel, “pornographic” and “an insult to his wife”. Knieval actually fired Caruso temporarily during the case so he could plead guilty. With Caruso's help he was sentenced to only six months in jail and probation. Saltman suffered a shattered left arm and other bruises and contusions.

In 1988 Eddie Nash (Adel Nasrallah) was accused of masterminding the Wonderland Murders. Nash and Gregory DeWitt Diles were charged with first degree murder. Caruso did not represent Nash in either his 1990 (hung jury, 11-1 for conviction) or 1991 (acquittal) trials but did represent him in 1988 when he was first charged. 

Nash, in 2001, pled guilty to various Federal RICO (Racketeering) violations. The Federal authorities included the Wonderland Murders in their case alleging the murders were part of Nash’s narcotics trafficking racket. In his plea Nash admitted participation in the crime including paying the hold out juror in the first trial $50,000. Nash also admitted having sent associates to the house to retrieve certain stolen property but denied planning the murders. (David Rosenzweig, Nash gets 37 Months in Wonderland Murders, Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2001)

Connection to Mickey Cohen

Caruso's connection to Mickey Cohen likely is the source of claims made by some TLB commentators that Caruso was a "mob lawyer". However, given how it ended I would say that is pretty solid evidence that he wasn't.

In the mid 1950's Caruso represented "ex mobster" Mickey Cohen in a couple of minor civil matters. This was long after Cohen's heyday. 

In 1956 Caruso represented Cohen in a damage suit against radio station KFI. The station had broadcast a story, called in by a prankster, that Cohen had been murdered in Griffith Park. Caruso claimed the report had caused Cohen’s wife to "collapse in anguish and grief". The court dismissed the case.

Caruso also represented Cohen in a civil action that year brought by several small creditors over a total of $500 representing bills Cohen failed to pay during his previous prison term. Caruso lost the case. 

In 1961 Caruso testified against Cohen at Cohen’s tax evasion trial. Caruso testified that he quit representing Cohen in 1956 when Cohen welched on a $7900 attorney fee bill. Caruso went on to testify that an earlier agreement admitting amounts owed the IRS signed by Cohen and negotiated by Caruso with the IRS had not been entered into by Cohen under duress. Caruso’s testimony effectively undermined Cohen’s defense. 

[Paul] Caruso was a newly minted attorney fresh out of the Marines and looking for clients like crazy when Mickey, just out of prison, hired him to handle several civil matters. 

But just as Mickey was about to go on TV with Mike Wallace, Caruso decided it was time to collect his overdue legal fees, up to $7,900 by then. Mickey said sorry, no—Caruso actually owed him $1,000, money left in trust in the lawyer’s office. Caruso said he had a family and needed the fees he had earned. 

“He was telling people he didn’t owe me money. I was stupid and young and an ex-Marine. I said, “You were born a small-time hoodlum and you’re going to die a small-time hoodlum.” He said, “If you’re man enough, come down and get it.” His sister had that greenhouse then, Lillian Weiner.

“He’d go in and say, “You need plants around here.” So I went down there and two of his men were sitting on each side of his desk and within thirty seconds he had a .38 pointed at me.” 

Fortunately, his sister walked in. Caruso stunned Mickey by grabbing his sister and using her as a shield to back out of the nursery and escape to his car. But after the lawyer made it home, he got a phone call, one of the henchmen announcing, “The little guy’s unhappy with you. He wants $1,000.” That’s when Caruso called Captain Hamilton’s squad and five of the men came over, right in the middle of the night. Keeler the bug man was among them and so was Dick Williams, the lethal jungle fighter. But the one who settled him down was Jerry Wooters. Jerry had been by his house before, with his partner, Phelps, feeling him out and trying to turn him against his hoodlum client. Caruso had a bar in his home and Jerry would crack a beer and say, “You know, you’re being taken for a ride.” 

“They were telling me I was being played for a sucker and they were right. They tried to get me to crack on Mickey. I was too dumb and too impressed with Mickey to know they were really looking out for my welfare.”

The cops stayed there for most of a week, just in case, and Caruso decided “Jerry was the one who would have done something if Mickey just gave him an excuse.”

Lieberman, Paul. Gangster Squad . St. Martin's Press. Kindle Edition.

Other Clients of Note

In 1956 Caruso represented the actor, George Raft, who was the plaintiff in a traffic accident. Raft recovered $2500. 

He represented actor, James Mason, in a defamation case brought against National Telefilm Associates, Inc. in 1958. The company had published a letter claiming Mason had avoided military service during WWII. 

In 1962 Caruso represented Zsa Zsa Gabor in a defamation case against Cavalier Magazine for publishing a story calling her a “gold digger” and listing her age as 48. She was 38. He continued to represent her at least until 1964 when he represented her in a dispute with the city over the city’s clean-up efforts after her home burned down during a wild fire. They apparently filled in her swimming pool with dirt and debris. 

Caruso sued Jackie Gleason on behalf of a George Durgom in 1963 claiming Gleason was drunk and irresponsibly driving a golf cart on the Paramount Studios back lot. Gleason flipped the golf cart while Durgom was a passenger. Gleeson apparently landed on top of Durgom and broke Durgom’s back. 

In 1972-3 Caruso represented a big time LA car dealer named Ralph Williams in his business dealings, defending him against criminal charges and in his divorce. Williams subsequently sued Caruso for malpractice. Caruso won and sued Williams for slander and for failing to pay Caruso’s $70,000 bill that resulted from the divorce and false advertising charges. The false advertising charges were brought against Williams by deputy district attorney Vincent Bugliosi. Caruso also sued Bugliosi for slander on behalf of Williams. 

Caruso also represented Ava Gardner. However, I was unable to find any specific cases. She did recover from pneumonia at his home in 1986.

Connection to Evelle J. Younger

In 1965 Caruso began to throw an annual party for Los Angeles District Attorney Evelle J. Younger. In attendance at these events would be celebrities such as Don Rickles, Jack Webb, various sports figures and even Governor Pat Brown. 

Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, January 26, 1966
Rickles also used to attend boxing matches with Caruso, as did Kirk Douglas and Don Adams on at least one occasion. Adams and Rickles attended the Floyd Patterson-Jerry Quarry match with Caruso in June 1967. Quarry was also Caruso’s client. 

These parties would later lead to the formation of something known as the “EJY Club”. By 1969 Richard Caballero was also a member of that club. Bugliosi, a Democrat, was not. 

The “EJY Club” figured in the 1970 state race for attorney general. Evelle Younger (Republican) ran against Charles O’Brien (Democrat). O’Brien claimed that Aaron Stovitz and Richard Caballero had submitted false affidavits to the court in connection with the November, 1969 motion seeking to get Atkins to Caruso’s office. O'Brien claimed this was a special favor approved by Younger and that it had almost jeopardized the case. O’Brien claimed the December 1, 1969 transfer of Atkins from jail to Caruso's office had nothing to do with the defense of the case but that the recordings were arranged solely to sell the story to Lawrence Schiller. O'Brien claimed Younger knew this in advance. Younger called the accusations 'poppycock'. Younger also won the election. 

Tate- LaBianca

Los Angeles Times, Tuesday August 19, 1969
Caruso’s first involvement with the Tate-LaBianca case was representing early suspect Thomas Harrington. Harrington was quickly eliminated as a suspect. 

By 1969 Caruso was famous in the legal circles of LA. News articles compared the Beverly Hills attorney with Melvin Belli and F. Lee Bailey. He had a very successful law practice, which focused on criminal defense, sports law and divorce and had a successful track record, winning most of his cases including securing acquittals in several murder trials. Because of this in late 1969 Richard Caballero pulled Caruso back into the Tate-LaBianca case.

Caruso’s Connection to Caballero

Richard Caballero represented Susan Atkins until she had him fired in favor of Daye Shinn (talk about the mistake of a lifetime). Caballero’s address is listed in the court file as 425 South Beverly Boulevard, Beverly Hills. This was Caruso’s office where he practiced with several 'associate' attorneys.

At the trial Caballero testified that he rented an office from Caruso and ‘associated’ with him on cases. Some commentators have stated that Caruso and Caballero were law partners. One even says Caruso was Caballero's 'associate attorney'. The second is likely due to confusion regarding the meaning of 'associating 'on case. That means they would team up on certain cases or cover for each other in court. Caruso, however, was never ‘attorney of record’ for Atkins. "Associating counsel" is not unusual, especially where the "associated counsel" brings something badly needed to the table. The O.J. Simpson team were 'associated', for example. 

We know Atkins ended up in Caballero’s office on December 1, 1969 with a tape recorder running. 

[Aside: That tape carried a copyright notice on it when it appeared in court.] 

But why did Caballero involve Caruso? 

425 South Beverly Drive, today
Caballero testified that from time to time they referred cases to each other. It is more likely that these cases flowed from Caruso to Caballero. Caballero was on the court appointed list when public defender conflicts cropped up. That is how he ended up representing Atkins. That means he needed clients. Court appointed work does not pay well. It is unlikely, then, that Caballero referred clients to Caruso. Caruso didn’t need clients. He was a 'rainmaker'. 

But Caballero's comments may explain how Caruso got involved. Caballero likely brought him in to pay him back for previous referrals and because he recognized he needed Caruso's help. He was also aware of the fact that Caruso had connections with and knew how to deal with the press in such cases. Caruso also had close connections to the highest level of the DA’s office.

It is logical to assume, under the circumstances, that Caruso, not Caballero, would have actually tried the case had it proceeded to court. Caruso had the name and the experience with high profile murder cases and had a very good success rate in trial. 

It is also likely Caruso possessed the Lawrence Schiller connection, through his press connections. It is obvious that Caruso and Caballero anticipated selling Atkins’ story from day one. That was how they were going to get paid and unlike those who actually sat through the defense of the case Caruso was not one to work for free. 

Caballero testified that he first met Schiller at Caruso’s office on December 8th. From my reading of the transcript I believe Schiller was already there when he arrived. 

The Caballero-Caruso Strategy

We know that the Caballero-Caruso strategy was first to get the death penalty off the table. They accomplished that in both Tate-LaBianca and Hinman with a deal where Atkins’ testimony before the Grand Jury could not be used against her or her co-defendants. So legally she traded nothing for avoiding the gas chamber. Step one: check.

Nothing in the deal prevented Atkins from ‘defending herself’ or pleading 'not guilty' which she did. Nothing required her to testify further. There was never any legal or aside from Manson's control any other reason for Atkins to ‘recant’ her Grand Jury testimony. Even if she went back to Manson she did not have to recant. Recanting was the second (maybe third) dumbest decision she ever made and one she didn't need to make.

The next step is conjecture on my part but I believe it flows logically from what other attorneys
attempted to do before they, too, were removed by Manson. I believe Caballero and Caruso planned to attempt to sever Atkins’ trial from the rest. That almost had to happen to have any chance to avoid a conviction for first degree murder. 

The diminished capacity defense they intended to use required Caruso and Caballero to throw Manson and the rest to the wolves. Remember, all Kasabian could say about Atkins was that she never saw Atkins stab (or attempting to stab) anyone. In fact, she would have to admit Atkins didn't even have a knife when they allegedly spoke that night. 

The last step was going to be to raise the diminished capacity defense by changing Atkins' plea to “not guilty by reason of insanity”. 

Kanarek: Did you try to determine whether she may have been under the influence of a dangerous drug or an opiate or maybe she had a diminished capacity defense that would make her go to a mental institution and maybe be released in a year or so? 

Did you ferret that out? 

Caballero: Mr. Kanarek, that is why I am not her lawyer today, because I wanted to do just that and she refused. 

Q: I see.

And you say that you were preparing this for a psychiatrist, this December 1, 1969, tape, you were preparing that for a psychiatrist? 

A: That was part of it, yes.

Q: No question about that?

A: Oh no, that was going to be part of what I was going to use it for, that is true.


A: The case was not ready for trial; there was absolutely no reason to go [to a psychiatrist] at that time [December 1st].

I was still gathering information from her.

The question of when the case would go to trial and at what point we would enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity had not been resolved yet. I was discussing with her approximately which psychiatrist she should go to, when we would go to a psychiatrist, under what circumstances, we had in mind.

These kinds of things; these are not overnight, Mr. Kanarek.

I plan them out and plot them out and then I work on them. This is what we were doing.

(Tate-LaBiance Trial Transcript, Penalty Phase, page 25968-975,

You can see Caballero laying the groundwork for the defense when at the time of the Grand Jury he told the press Atkins had been brainwashed by Manson. 

This same plan almost resulted in a manslaughter conviction for Leslie Van Houten several years later. And if Bugliosi paraded the plot for his book around the courtroom it is likely the defense would have resulted in a manslaughter conviction for Atkins. Bugliosi’s robot-zombie-killer argument would never work with a Atkins-only jury in the face of a well-litigated diminished capacity defense because he would be making Caballero and Caruso’s point with the jury for them. 

Schiller, Caballero, Caruso and the Killing of Sharon Tate

By 1969 Caruso wasn’t cheap. One article says his fees were always at least five figures. He drove a Cadillac (one he drove to a boxing match with Kirk Douglas was overturned in a riot following the fight). He wore expensive suits, wore a gold pocket watch and carried a cane with a gold headpiece. he was not about to work for free.

Caballero was appointed by Judge William Keene to represent Susan Atkins, after the public defender discovered a conflict of interest, on December 10, 1969. At that point he was a court appointed attorney paid by the state. However, on February 3, 1970 Caballero changed his status with the court to ‘privately retained’. This means he was being paid and that is the Schiller money. 

[Aside: Caballero also changed his status in the Hinman case. That order was signed by Judge Joseph A. Wapner-yup, that is the same Wapner.]

We know how he was being paid from his trial testimony. Caballero and Caruso met with Lawrence Schiller in Caruso’s office on either December 5th or 8th. He gives both dates. 

According to Caballero’s testimony everyone agreed that Atkins’ story was not to be released in the USA. Her story was also supposed to be released before the Grand Jury testimony went public. Caballero correctly testified that Grand Jury testimony was typically released to the public about ten days after an indictment. That is what they expected. Caballero also testified that he and Caruso did not anticipate that the court would actually ‘seal’ the Grand Jury record. 

According to Caballero they considered the impact the story might have on Atkins' case. Schiller had guaranteed them that even if the local press picked up the story they couldn't write more that 500 words on a copyrighted story. Since they already had their deal for Atkins they believed any impact would be minimal for that reason and because of the planned defense. The diminished capacity defense was not going to deny that Atkins was present at the crimes. It was a defense of avoidance- avoiding liability, not denying participation. 

The agreement reached was that Caballero, Caruso and Atkins would split 75% of the profits from the overseas sales. 

Caruso told reporters after he testified that he received only $7,000 from the Schiller book The Killing of Sharon Tate. He also told reporters that when he learned that Atkins’ story had appeared in the LA Times he wanted to sue them. He added that the book was published by a Times subsidiary suggesting how it 'leaked'. (Mary Neiswender, Lawyer Says Atkins Lived Up to Pact, The Long Beach Independent, February 26, 1971.)

Caruso’s number ($7,000) may be low. Most estimates I have seen in the press place the total royalties payable to Atkins and her lawyers in the range of $90,000 suggesting Caruso received closer to $30,000 That number is consistent with the lawsuit filed against Caballero and Caruso by Nathaniel Friedman (see, below). However, in Bartyk Frykowski’s wrongful death suit against the killers the publisher claimed to have paid only $21,000 in royalties. That could, however, have been Atkins’ share. 

All of this came out during the penalty phase of the trial because at that time Shinn made the rather unusual suggestion to the jury through their testimony that Caballero, Caruso and Bugliosi had conspired to invent Atkins’ Grand Jury testimony. While some may believe that is the truth, the reason it is ‘unusual’ is because the claim did absolutely nothing to help his client and, in fact, told the jury she was a liar. 

It is pretty clear that Shinn was at least peeved at Caballero and Caruso, probably because they were the only ones who actually profited from the defense. After all it is likely that Shinn’s belief the case was going to make him rich and famous is why he elbowed his way in, in the first place. And yet he received very little or none of the Schiller money. 

The Atkins Deal

During the trial both Caballero and Caruso expressed the opinion that the deal they had made for Atkins was still valid and that Bugliosi should not have been able to seek the death penalty. They claimed she had substantially complied with the deal because she told the truth before the Grand Jury and nothing more was required. If you remember, Mary Brunner held on to her immunity for Hinman for the same reason even though she also recanted. Caballero and Caruso were probably correct. Shinn never made the argument that I am aware of. 

Tate After Tate

Caruso and Caballero’s testimony did not end their involvement with the story. 

In October, 1971 Nathaniel J. Friedman sued both of them and the publishing company of Schiller’s book in Federal Court for unjust enrichment on behalf of Bartyk Frykowski. 

Eventually he would seek $31,000 from Caballero, his share of the royalties. The claim against Caballero went to trial in March 1975 and a jury found for Caballero. I could not find a record of the outcome of the claim against Caruso. 

Los Angeles Times, Thursday, October 14, 1971

Napa Valley Register, Tuesday, March 18, 1975

Not to be outdone, and likely still smarting from the Schiller deal, in 1972 Daye Shinn on behalf of Susan Atkins sued Caballero, Caruso and..... wait for it……for some reason, Bugliosi for malpractice seeking $2m. 

Atkins claimed that she was unaware she was being tape recorded on December 1st and that Caruso and Caballero had allowed Bugliosi to rehearse her for her Grand Jury testimony. Displaying his typical incompetence, Shinn never served Caruso. In 1973 the case against Caballero and Bugliosi was dismissed. One has to wonder what possible cause of action Shinn could come up with to sue Bugliosi. 

Van Nuys News, Thursday, May 3, 1973

In her last book Atkins spent most of her time attacking Bugliosi and complaining about her treatment when compared to Linda Kasabian's. One has to wonder if she ever realized how far better off she would have been represented by Caruso and Caballero. For a brief time she had an attorney the caliber of F. Lee Bailey. She would have had an attorney who could handle the press and had a very successful career defending those accused of murderer. She would have had an attorney who, in my opinion, would have made Bugliosi very uncomfortable. If she had stayed with Caruso and Caballero I also believe she likely would have been free by1979. 

Paul Caruso’s Obituary 

Los Angeles Times, ThursdayAugust 16, 2001
Note: Caruso did graduate from law school. The article was subsequently corrected. What he never did was take the bar exam because veterans of World War Two were exempt in the years immediately following the war. 

[Aside: Some commentators over the years have claimed that Caruso represented Billy Doyle and Pic Dawson and that he also represented Joel Rostau. They do this to link the group and Harrington to each other and to the mafia making the unsubstantiated claim that Caruso and/or Caballero were "mob lawyers". One even went so far as mistakenly identifying Caballero as Italian. I found absolutely no evidence that Caruso represented any of them. If someone has that evidence please send it to me and I will add it to the post.]  

Pax Vobiscum