Saturday, 11 June 2016 18:07

Mark Lane, Part II: Citizen Lane

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On the occasion of Mark Lane's passing, Jim DiEugenio looks back at his autobiography, concluding: "Lane’s life stands out as a man who did what he could to correct the evil and injustice in the world around him, with no target being too small or too large in that regard. This book stands out like a beacon in the night. It shows both what a citizen should be, and what an attorney can be."


When Mark Lane’s autobiography was published in 2012, I was working on my rewrite of Destiny Betrayed.  Right after that, I started in on Reclaiming Parkland. I tried to get someone else to review Citizen Lane, but there were no takers.  In retrospect, I am sorry that I could not get anyone interested. And I also understand why no one in the MSM reviewed the book.  It is, in quite simple terms, both a marvelous read and an inspiring story.

Too often in the JFK field, we focus solely on the work of the author or essayist on the assassination itself.  In my view, this is mistaken.  It's important to me to know who an author is outside of the field.  To give one example, Robert Tanenbaum—who wrote the thinly disguised roman a clef about the HSCA, Corruption of Blood—was a graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law. He then became a prosecutor under the legendary New York DA Frank Hogan.  He rose to become head of the homicide division. Tanenbaum never lost a felony case in his nearly decade long career in that office. Therefore, he cannot be dismissed as a tin foil capped conspiracy theorist.  The late Philip Melanson rose to become the head of the political science department at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.  He then built an RFK archives at his university, the best such repository on the east coast.  He wrote 12 non-fiction books, including an excellent one on the Secret Service.

In my elegy for the recently deceased Mark Lane, I alluded to some of the things he had accomplished outside the Kennedy assassination field: his work for the alleged killer of Martin Luther King, James Earl Ray; his book on the fey, chaotic Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968; and his prime role in freeing an innocent man from death row, James Richardson.  Little did I know how much I was still leaving out. I, and many others, clearly shortchanged the career of a truly remarkable attorney. 

I have belatedly read Lane’s autobiography, Citizen Lane.  Let me say two things at the outset.  Everyone should read this book.  It is the testament of a man who dedicated his legal career to a lifelong crusade for the causes he believed in.  And, as we will see, Lane did this almost right at the beginning of his career. It is clear that no obituary of Lane came close to doing him justice, because there seemed to be a unified MSM  boycott about this book.  Without reading it, no one can come close to fairly summarizing his career. 

Lane was born in New York in 1927, two years before the stock market crash.  His father was a CPA, and his mother was a secretary to a theatrical producer.  All three of their children went to college and graduated, which is quite an achievement for that time period.  Lane’s older brother became a high school mathematics teacher and a leader of the teachers union in New York. His younger sister became a history professor who eventually took over the Women’s Studies Department at the University of Virginia. She built it from virtually nothing to the point where it had fifty majors, and the areas of concentration were expanded.  (See here

After serving in the army in Europe during World War II, Mark Lane returned home and decided to become an attorney.  He attended Brooklyn School of Law. It was founded in 1901, and is highly rated today by the National Law Journal.  That particular publication rates law schools by return on investment.  That is: how many of the graduates sign on with the top law firms in the United States.  According to that rubric, Lane’s alma mater is in the top 15% of law academies.  But Lane did not intend on cashing in on his law degree. 

Lane decided that what he wanted to do was to offer legal services to those who did not have access to them but, in fact, really needed them.  So he began as a member of the leftist National Lawyers Guild, and working in an office with the later congressional representative Bella Abzug.  Lane started out as little more than a researcher and court stand-in for his boss when he was behind schedule.  But one day he happened to walk by a court in session while the great Carol Weiss King, founder of the National Lawyers Guild, was defending a client.  Lane heard her say, “Just who does this government think it is that it can violate the law with impunity, that it can traduce the rights of ordinary people, that it can tell us that the law doesn’t count because these are extraordinary times? ” (p. 27) 

From that propitious moment on Lane decided he was not going to be a gopher for anyone anymore.


He now set up an office on the second level of an apartment building in Spanish Harlem. Because few other attorneys were there, people began to come to him with their most dire needs.  Prior to Lane’s arrival, when there was a gang shooting, the young Latin accused of the crime almost automatically was executed or got life imprisonment.  With Lane there this all changed, even in instances when the victim was white and the assailant was Puerto Rican.  Lane was one of the first to assail what was called the Special Jury System.  (pgs. 43-44)  In New York, under these circumstances, the jury master could choose a jury, instead of having one picked at random.  Therefore, the accused was not judged by a jury of his peers. Later, Lane was instrumental in getting this system abolished.

Once he developed a higher profile, Lane would set up legal clinics for the public in high school auditoriums. One of his specialties was advising local renters on how to set up tenant councils and, if necessary, conduct rent strikes. (p. 48) He even arranged to have a legal clinic at the offices of the local Hispanic newspaper. With their help, Lane helped save the concept of rent control in New York City. (p. 49)

Lane was also an active member of the National Lawyers Guild. Like many young lawyers in the late forties and fifties, Lane thought the ABA did not take a strong enough stand against Richard Nixon and the House Un-American Activities Committee or the demagogue Joe McCarthy.  He volunteered to organize a benefit show for the Guild.  When the main targeted performer refused to sign on, Lane went to the blacklisted folk singer Pete Seeger.  Seeger invited the jazz artist Sonny Terry.  Lane also invited female folk singer Martha Schlamme.  Every ticket was sold, with scores of people paying for standing room only. Lane went on to do two more of these shows for Seeger.  They went over so well that the young attorney briefly thought of becoming a musical impresario. (p. 36)  But, lucky for us, he did not. Lane married the talented and attractive Schlamme, who unfortunately, died of a stroke in 1985.

By this time, the mid fifties, Lane had been in practice for just six years.  But yet, his reputation as a champion of lost causes was so prevalent that a young man named Graciliano Acevedo walked into his office one day. He was an escapee from a young adult prison.  Except it was not called a prison.  It was called Wassaic State School for Mental Defectives. Acevedo began to recite a virtual horror story to the young lawyer.  He told him that Wassaic was not really a school.  It was a prison camouflaged as a school.  Acevedo had been committed there without access to an attorney and not given a hearing or a trial.  He did not want to return. He said there was no real schooling going on there, and that the guards were incompetent and sadistic and would beat up some of the prisoners.  In fact, one guard actually killed an 18-year-old prisoner. (p. 58)

Lane took Acevedo to a psychiatrist.  When his IQ was tested it turned out to be 115.  So much for him being a mental defective. Lane decided he was not going to turn him over.  He now enlisted two local reporters to his side: Fern Marja and Peter Khiss.  Marja ran a three-day series on the abuses of this “school," which culminated with an editorial plea for it to be cleaned up.  Which it was.  There was no more solitary confinement, books were now made available, academic tests were now given in Spanish, guards were fired (some were prosecuted), and hundreds of the inmates were released.

It is hard to believe, but at this time, Lane was just 28 years old.


Lane was interested in improving the community he worked in, as were some other talented people.  So, through his defense of a parishioner, he met with the famous reverend, Eugene St. Clair Callender.  After getting the young man off, he and Callender decided to work on creating a drug treatment center at the Mid-Harlem  Community Parish. (p. 79)  Once the two men got the center up and running, they passed its management on to one of the former patients. That center ended up treating 25,000 patients.  After a meeting with baseball star Jackie Robinson, a company he was affiliated with agreed to hire some of the rehabilitated drug addicts.  To culminate their success story, Lane and Callender invited a young rising star of the civil rights movement to come north and speak in Harlem. Martin Luther King spoke in front of the Hotel Theresa in 1957.  Lane supplied the power for the sound system through a nearby nightclub run by boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson. (pgs. 86-87)

From social problems, Lane now turned toward the political field. The young attorney did not think the Democratic Party of New York was representing Spanish Harlem anywhere near as well as it should.  So Lane decided to organize his own version of the party.  He got the backing of Eleanor Roosevelt in this effort. At the beginning, he said that if he won his race for the state legislature, he would only serve one term.  He then wanted to pass the seat on to a local Hispanic.  With the help of his sister, brother and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Lane campaign registered over four thousand new voters. At the same time he was running for office, he was managing the local campaign of Senator John Kennedy for president.

On Election Day, his backers patrolled the ballot boxes to make sure no one from outside the district tried to vote.  Lane won and celebrations broke out. As promised, after he served one term, he passed the seat on to a local Latino community organizer he knew.

At around this time, the early sixties, the struggle for civil rights was heating up to a fever pitch. The election of John Kennedy and the appointment of his brother Robert F. Kennedy as Attorney General, inspired long delayed public demonstrations to attain equality for black Americans.  Callender decided to join in one of these actions, the Freedom Riders movement, by sending Lane and local black activist/lawyer Percy Sutton south to join in them. (p. 138)

In Jackson, Mississippi, before they could even participate in the protest, both  men were arrested for sitting next to each other at an airport terminal. The charge was disorderly conduct. They were convicted without trial and sentenced to four months in prison.  They were released on bail and promptly interviewed by the New York Times and New York Post. (p. 144)  After the bad publicity, the two men returned south to stand trial. Wisely, the prosecutor moved for a directed verdict of not guilty.


We now come to a part of Citizen Lane that most of our readership will be partly familiar with.  That is, Lane’s writing of his famous National Guardian essay proclaiming doubt about the guilt of Lee Harvey Oswald for the murder of President Kennedy.  What inspired Lane to write his essay were the pronouncements of Dallas DA Henry Wade after Oswald had been killed.  This was suspicious in itself, since Jack Ruby killed Oswald live on national TV in the basement of City Hall. In spite of that, perhaps because of it, Wade held a press conference and stated that, even though he was dead, and would not have an attorney, or a trial, Oswald was still guilty. (p. 150)  Lane studied the charges levied by Wade. He now decided to respond to the DA’s bill of indictment.  Although he offered his work to several outlets e.g. The Nation, Look, Life, the Saturday Evening Post, none of them would publish it.  Finally, James Aronson of the left leaning National Guardian called. He had heard of the essay through the publishing grapevine.  Lane told him he could have it for now, but not to publish it yet.  In the meantime, he went to Jimmy Weschler of the New York Post.  The Post had helped him with the Wassaic scandal, and covered his political campaign fairly.  Weschler turned it down. After final approval for Aronson, it became a mini-sensation.  Aronson had to publish several reprints.  Weschler never spoke to Lane again.  (p. 152)

This essay was not just hugely popular in America, it also began to circulate through Europe and even Japan. Therefore, with the money Aronson made through the $100 dollar sale of the rights from Lane, he arranged a speaking tour abroad for the author.  With Lane’s dissident profile rising, the head of the ABA and future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wanted him disciplined because of his defense of Oswald.  (p. 155)  But Marguerite Oswald had read Lane’s work and wanted him to defend her deceased son, which Lane agreed to do.  But the Warren Commission would not tolerate anything like that, by Lane or anyone else.  In fact, following through on Powell’s suggestion, Commission Chief Counsel J. Lee Rankin filed a complaint with the New York City bar.  Lane had to get an attorney to represent him and the complaint was dismissed.  (p. 157)

Even though Rankin would not tolerate a formal defense of Oswald before the Warren Commission, Lane now established his Citizens Commission of Inquiry (CCI) to informally investigate the Kennedy case through a wide network of volunteers.  Through his lecture tours he raised enough  money to fly to Dallas and talk to witnesses. He also rented a theater in New York and began to appear on college campuses.  When he was invited to travel to Europe, the American embassies abroad tracked his appearances and tried to talk his backers out of their sponsorships.  At one appearance in Vienna, they planted a translator who deliberately misspoke what he was saying.  When the crowd started objecting, an American living there took over the duties. (p. 159)

When Lane returned to the States, he tried to get a book published based upon the Warren Report and the accompanying 26 volumes of evidence.  But the FBI visited some of the prospective publishers and talked them out of working with Lane.  They also visited local talk radio hosts and tried to discourage them from having him on the air.  The Bureau then tapped the phones of the CCI so they would know when and where Lane would be traveling in order to investigate the case.  He was also placed on the “lookout list” so that when he arrived back from a foreign speaking tour, the FBI would know he had returned.

Because he was working for nothing but expenses, and he had neglected his private law practice for the Kennedy case, Lane was extremely low on funds at this time.  Finally, a British publishing house, the Bodley Head, decided to publish his manuscript called Rush to Judgment. A man named Ben Sonnenberg went to the company and volunteered his services to edit the book. When Lane saw his suggestions, he thought they were weird.  It later turned out that Sonnenberg was a CIA agent who was relaying information to the Agency about what was in the book.  (p. 165)

The book did well in England and the Bodley Head began to look for an American publisher.  They contacted Arthur Cohen of Holt, Rinehart and Winston.  Cohen was very interested but, probably through Sonnenberg, the CIA found out how explosive the book was. Although it did not implicate them, they tried to talk Cohen out of publishing the book anyway.  Cohen told them if they did not leave him alone, he would double the advertising budget.  (p. 165)  Norman Mailer did a good review of the book in the New York Herald Tribune and the volume became a smashing best seller in America.

Lane began to tour the country from coast to coast as the book caught on like wildfire.  In St. Louis, he got a phone caller on a talk show who said he wanted to talk to him offline.  He then told him that he needed to talk to him out of the studio.  So he directed him to a phone booth nearby.  When Lane got there, he now instructed him to go to another phone booth a few miles away.  Lane, who had received numerous death threats before was now getting worried.  But it turned out that the caller was alerting him to an assassination attempt on his life.  He told Lane that this would take place in Chicago, outside of a hotel room he would be staying in and he actually gave him the room number he would be at.  He then added that there would be a studio across the street.  Lane would cross the street to get there at a precise time, and then there would be an attempt to run him over with a truck.  (p. 169)  Lane asked him how he knew all of these details.  The man said that he had been hired to drive the truck, but he refused to kill an American on American soil.  He then added that he would now send a taxi to pick Lane up and return him to his hotel, which he knew the name of.  When Lane got to Chicago, all the details the assassin told him were accurate.  So he changed his room number, and then arrived at the interview via a circuitous route.

Mark Lane appears on Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. Although many people had been
skeptical of the Warren Report's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in
the assassination of President Kennedy, Lane's book Rush to Judgment was the first to
lay out the argument seriously. He defends himself ably in this spirited exchange.

After Rush to Judgment became a national bestseller, documentary film director Emile De Antonio got in contact with him to a do a film based upon the book.  So the two traveled to Dallas to interview some witnesses.  One of them, Sam Holland, told them that he had been alerted in advance about them coming.  And he had also been told by the police not to talk to them. Further, he had been threatened with the loss of his job if he did so. When Lane asked him if those were the circumstances, then why he was talking to him, Holland replied with words that have become hallowed in the annals of JFK assassination literature:  “When the time comes that an American sees his president being killed and he can’t tell the truth about it, that’s the time to give the country back to the Indians—if they’ll take it.”  As Lane reports, Holland had tears in his eyes as he said this.

I should add one more detail about their work on this film, one that does not come from this book, but from Lane’s 1968 volume A Citizen’s Dissent. While at work on the film, the two struck a deal with CBS to look at their outtakes from their 1964 two-hour special on the Warren Report.  The first night they watched five hours of film.  They understood it would eventually run to 70 hours—for a two-hour documentary?  Lane and De Antonio found something shocking that first night.  CBS was, as Lane put it, filming from a script.  If any witness diverted from that scenario, the interviewer yelled cut. The witness was then instructed with new information so as to alter their answer for the camera.  The witness then gave the revised answer. Only the rehearsed parts were shown to the public.  Needless to say, after their first night, CBS called the librarian and said the agreement they had was null and void.  (Mark Lane, A Citizen’s Dissent, pgs. 75-79)


While on a speaking tour in northern California in 1968, Lane picked up a magazine and read the story of James Joseph Richardson.  Richardson was a resident of  Arcadia, Florida, who was charged with killing his seven children with poison.  (Citizen Lane, p. 187)  Lane happened to have another speaking engagement upcoming in Florida. While there, he found that Richardson had been convicted.  Lane got in contact with Richardson’s attorney and then with Richardson.  After this he and three of his friends and working associates—Carolyn Mugar, Steve Jaffe and Dick Gregory—conducted an eight-month investigation, after which he published a book about the case called, appropriately, Arcadia.  This managed to attract some attention to the case and place some pressure on local officials. 

The book strongly suggested that Richardson had been framed and that the local police chief and the DA had cooperated in manufacturing evidence. This turned out to be the case.  Lane got TV host David Frost interested in the case and he did a jailhouse interview with Richardson.  Dick Gregory got a story in Newsweek.  Lane called a press conference on the steps of the state capital after he had acquired a copy of the master case file.  These documents proved the accusations he had made in his book.  The governor now ordered a special hearing into the case and the new facts were now entered into the record.  Janet Reno had been assigned the case as a special prosecutor.  Lane was allowed to make his case to vacate the previous judgment.  Reno made a short presentation which, in essence, agreed with all the facts Lane had presented.  She also agreed the verdict should be vacated.  The judge agreed also and Richardson was set free. (pgs. 206-07)  Lane later called the day Richardson was freed after 21 years of incarceration the greatest day of his professional life.

Mark Lane (left) with Jane Fonda

It would seem almost destined that an attorney like Lane would get involved with the long and arduous attempt to end the Vietnam War.  Lane did. With actress Jane Fonda and actor Donald Sutherland, he helped arrange the famous Winter Soldier Investigation.  This was a three-day conference in Detroit in 1971. It was designed to publicize the atrocities and crimes that the Pentagon had committed in its futile attempt to defeat the Viet Cong and the regular army of North Vietnam.  A documentary film was made of the event and the transcript was entered into the Congressional Record by Sen. Mark Hatfield. 

Both President Richard Nixon and his assistant Charles Colson despised the conference, as did the Pentagon and the FBI. They therefore began counter measures to neutralize its impact. Lane wrote a book about the subject called Conversations with Americans. Consulting with the Pentagon, New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan wrote an article saying that since some of Lane’s interviewees were not listed in Pentagon records, then the persons must be ersatz.  When Lane tried to call Sheehan and enlighten him on this issue, Sheehan never returned his calls.  Lane understood that some of the soldiers would not want their actual names entered into the book for fear of retaliation.  Therefore, he had entered the real information about the subjects on a chart and given this information to a former lawyer for the Justice Department.  (See pages 219-221) Sheehan apparently never wanted this information.  And neither does former professor John McAdams because he still runs a link to Sheehan’s false article to discredit Lane. 

Neil Sheehan was a former acolyte of Col. John Paul Vann. Vann had been part of the American advisory group that President Kennedy had sent to Vietnam to assist the ARVN. Vann became convinced the war could not be won unless direct American intervention was applied.  In this, he was in agreement with New York Times reporter in Vietnam, David Halberstam.  Kennedy disliked them both since he had no intention of inserting American combat troops in Indochina.  Somehow, 42 years after the fall of Saigon, McAdams still does not understand what made it such a disaster. It was partly because of writers like Sheehan and military men like Vann.

But that is not all Lane did to try and stop the war.  He also read up on the laws concerning conscientious objectors and provided counseling to scores of young men who wanted to use that aspect of the law to either avoid service or leave the service.  (p. 236)  In addition to that, because Lane had achieved a high profile on the war, one day a Vietnamese pilot training in Texas got in contact with him.  He said he did not want to be part of these Vietnamese Air Force missions, since most of them targeted civilians. So he asked Lane if he could be granted political asylum in America so as not to go back and do bombing runs.  Lane did some work on the issue.  He told him that he did not think he would be successful petitioning for asylum in America, but he thought he could do so in Canada.  Therefore, along with his lifelong friend Carolyn Mugar, the two set up a kind of underground railroad into Canada. Carolyn would stop her station wagon before the border checkpoint. Lane and the man he calls Tran (along with two other trainees) jumped out of the car and circled around into a snowy, thin forest.  After Carolyn passed the border, she then drove along a narrow road to pick up the pair on the Canadian side. Because of its success, Lane duplicated this along with Mugar several times.  He later talked to a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman who said that they were on to what he was doing. but they actually were in agreement with him.  (p. 283)


One of the most gripping chapters in the book is Lane’s description of his participation in the defense of Russell Means and Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement (AIM) during the siege at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1973.  AIM had organized an effort to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson who they felt was a totally corrupt pawn who was actually abusing the tribe. The area was cordoned off with FBI agents and US Marshals. During the siege, several people were shot and at least one disappeared.  After the siege was lifted, Banks and Means went on trial for conspiracy and assault.  They were defended respectively by Lane and William Kunstler.

The trial began in January of 1974.  Lane motioned for a change of venue to St. Paul, Minnesota, which the court granted.  It became very obvious early on that the FBI had illegally wiretapped the phone at the reservation and that they had suborned perjury from their star witness. (p. 267)  Although one of the jurors became ill before a final verdict was voted on, the judge accepted an acquittal to one charge and threw out the other because of prosecutorial misconduct. That ruling was accepted on appeal.

Most of us know about Lane’s participation in the Martin Luther King case.  He and Dick Gregory wrote a good book about the murder of King.  It was originally titled Code Name Zorro and then reissued as Murder In Memphis.  In this volume, Lane only discusses his work with Grace Stephens.  Stephens was at Bessie’s Boarding House with her common law husband, Charlie Stephens, when King was shot.  She saw a man run out of the communal bathroom.  Yet, she would not say it was James Earl Ray, the accused assassin, even though she was sober and got a good look at him.  Charlie was stone drunk at the time and was not a witness to the man running out. He did not even have his glasses on. (p. 290) But since he would say it was Ray, he was used as a witness to extradite the alleged assassin from England.

When Lane started investigating the case, he asked around for Grace.  No one knew where she was or why she was never called as a witness.  Finally, Lane got some information that she was squirreled away in a sanitarium.  He went there and looked for her. When he found her, he sat down next to her, took out a tape recorder, and asked her about the man she saw.  She said she did get a good look at him.  And when she was shown pictures of Ray, it was not him.  Lane left the place and then played the tape on local Memphis radio.  He then got a hearing called in order to free Grace Stephens. (p. 294)

In the fall of 1978, Lane was asked by his friend Donald Freed to go to Jonestown in Guyana.  James Jones wanted Freed to lecture there on the King case.  Freed figured that since Lane knew much more about it than he did, he would let him do the talking.  Lane was well received and he was invited back in November.  Before he left, he got a call from a congressional lawyer in Washington. He inquired about how many news media would be there, and if the congressional delegations of Leo Ryan and Ed Derwinski would be small. He was assured that there would be no media and that just one assistant would accompany both congressmen. (p. 305)  He had inquired about this because he felt that if everything was kept small scale, he could serve as a mediator if Jones got too paranoid about being investigated.  Lane was either misinformed or he was lied to on both points.

Jones did feel threatened by the rather large delegation and Lane could not control things.  After watching and intervening in a murder attempt on congressman Ryan, Lane advised the representative from northern California  to leave the scene. Jones had seen Ryan bloodied and the newsmen were trying to take photos. (p. 310)  Lane convinced Ryan to go. He told him he would interview the people his constituents were inquiring about.

After Ryan left for the airport—where he and others would be killed on the tarmac—Lane and the People’s Temple lawyer Charles Garry were placed in a cell.  Lane talked to one of his guards and convinced him that he would be the perfect author to tell the truth about the colony. Miraculously, the two lawyers made it through the jungle to Port Kaituma where they were rescued by the military.  They then sought refuge in the American Embassy.  Lane concludes this chapter by agreeing with most authors:  Jonestown was not a mass suicide.  It was at least partly a mass murder.  (Please read Jim Hougan’s three-part series on Jones to gain some understanding of what really happened at Jonestown

As shown in the video clip above, many people know that Mark Lane opposed William F. Buckley on his show Firing Line about the JFK case.  What very few people knew, including me, was that Lane also opposed him in court on four counts of defamation.  Buckley had sued Willis Carto for libel because he had called him a neo-fascist and a racist.  Carto’s first lawyer took a powder on him and so he turned to Lane in desperation: Buckley was requesting $16 million dollars in damages.  Even though the judge was clearly biased towards Buckley, Lane did very well.  He simply used words that Buckley had written in his own magazine, National Review  to show that Buckley had clearly sided with the forces of segregation in the south way past the time when King and Rosa Parks began their campaign to integrate the area.  He also showed that Buckley encouraged the prosecution of African American congressman Adam Clayton Powell, and that he was also in favor of the poll tax.  The $16 million was reduced to $1,001.00.  (pgs. 321-28)

It is also instructive to compare the work Lane did in life with what the counsels of the Warren commission did. Did David Belin ever take on a case of abusive landlords? Did Wesley Liebeler ever hold free legal clinics on how to organize rent strikes? Not to my knowledge.

Two other things I did not know about Lane that are in this book.   He successfully argued a case before the Supreme Court against Jack Anderson.  This again involved a libel case in which Anderson had libeled Carto.  The district judge had thrown the case out.  Lane argued it should be reinstated.  He won the case and Carto settled for a withdrawal of the charges and a token payment to a charitable cause.  (p. 336) 

Second, Lane had a radio show. He made an appearance on a radio program in New Jersey in 2004 to talk about the JFK case.  He did so well that he was invited back.  He was then offered a job five days a week, which he declined. But he agreed to do the show once  a week with a co–host.   The show was called Lane’s Law and I really wish I had known about it since it sounds very funny. Lane had a great time making fun of pompous fools like Sen. Bill Frist. (p. 346)

When Lane’s sister Anne became ill and had to resign her Department Chair at Virginia, Lane moved to Charlottesville to be close to her. She later recovered and moved to New York to attend her children and grandchildren.  Mark decided to stay in Virginia.  Coincidentally, all three siblings passed away in a period of four years, from 2012-16.

Unlike what Bob Katz once wrote about him, Mark Lane was not an ambulance chaser.  In each high profile case he entered, he was requested to do so: from the JFK case to the Buckley case, and all of them in between, including Wounded Knee and the King case. It is also instructive to compare the work Lane did in life with what the counsels of the Warren commission did.  Did David Belin ever take on a case of abusive landlords?  Did Wesley Liebeler ever hold free legal clinics on how to organize rent strikes?  Not to my knowledge.

Mark Lane was such an effective defense lawyer he could have made millions a la Dick DeGuerin defending the likes of Robert Durst.  Instead, he decided to be an attorney for the wretched and the damned.  A counsel for the downtrodden and the lost. But they happened to be, like Wounded Knee and the JFK case, just causes.  And Lane acquitted himself well, considering the forces arrayed against him.  I know of very few lawyers who could have written a book like this one.  Lane’s life stands out as a man who did what he could to correct the evil and injustice in the world around him, with no target being too small or too large in that regard. This book stands out like a beacon in the night. It shows both what a citizen should be, and what an attorney can be. Buy it today.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 November 2016 21:52
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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