UPDATE: Did Famed Attorney / LBJ Friend Percy Foreman Blackmail Jimmy Carter?

An Examination of how LBJ’s Friend Percy Foreman Guaranteed James Earl Ray’s Lifetime Sentence – While Earning a Lifetime “Keep Out of Jail” Card for Himself

Percy Foreman, Famed Defense Attorney, Used Extremely Illegal Methods to Free Murderers Except for the Case of an Innocent James Earl Ray, where He Used Those Methods to Ensure Ray Would Spend the Rest of His Life in Prison

Percy Foreman, the famous Houston lawyer and friend of Lyndon Johnson, became so comfortable operating his legal firm untethered to legal principles that, in 1971 he took one step too many “over the line.”

In the original blog with the above title, October 29, 2019, we explored the various methods Percy Foreman used during his career to accomplish his devious objectives, and how he had become involved with six other men in the conduct of a massive fraud. Two of the other men were Nelson Bunker Hunt and W. Herbert Hunt, both sons of H. L. Hunt; the others were prominent Texas attorneys or multi-millionaire businessmen.

Since that blog was published, a new, separate tranche of documents was discovered that sheds new light on the mystery of how the once highly-publicized case completely disappeared from the newspapers by the time that Percy Foreman’s case was finally due to be litigated — but instead, was suddenly dropped, by order of Attorney General Griffin Bell (implicitly, either by order of President Jimmy Carter, or minimally, with his approval).

Within one of the earliest documents, the 1972 civil action 7-page charging section of the lawsuit, were listed specific elements of the the fraud, about which the later criminal charges would be filed: they were leveled directly at Percy Foreman: [1]

Pursuant to the conspiracy on January 4, 1972, HUDSON again counseled with FOREMAN at the behest of BUNKER HUNT and RALPH SHANK and received assurance from FOREMAN that he could obstruct and prevent Plaintiff from communicating information relating to crimes committed by BUNKER HUNT and his brother,. W. HERBERT HUNT, to criminal investigators. So sure was FOREMAN that he could control Plaintiff that he agreed to return the bribe if he was unsuccessful

[From] December, 1971 through several months of 1972, FOREMAN did in furtherance of the conspiritorial [sic] design of E. J. HUDSON, NELSON BUNKER HUNT, and RALPH SHANK, by word and deed deter Plaintiff by misrepresentation, threats of physical harm, threats of economic ruin, Intimidation of will, and other furtive methods, from becoming a witness in or attending in a Court of the United States or testifying to a matter pending therein freely, fully and truthfully . . . Thus was it conspired for the purpose of impeding, hindering, obstructing or defeating the due course of justice . . . with intent thereby to harm him in his person and property . . . Plaintiff was thus injured and deprived and suffered great injury and deprivation and mental pain, and anguish.

But of all the charges of fraud, deceit, negligence, threats of harm and other torts, there was one that most strongly reflects the brazenly outrageous conduct — intended from the very start of his entering into a contract with the plaintiff — of Percy Foreman. It was the key charge, among the many cumulative total, that proves the elaborate plot could only have been designed and orchestrated by Percy Foreman, and completely directed and controlled him alone.

It was the one labeled Part V — “Causes of Action” from subsection “D,” which reads as follows: [3]

BREACH OF CONTRACT — As described above, Plaintiff did contract with PERCY FOREMAN for his advice and Counsel, and PERCY FOREMAN undertook to represent the interest of NELSON BUNKER HUNT and his brother, W. HERBERT HUNT, whose interests are not in harmony with Plaintiff’s. Thus in accepting a contract in conflict with Plaintiff’s interest and putting himself in a position of serving two masters, PERCY FOREMAN did breach the contract with Plaintiff to the great damage of Plaintiff. By conspiring and confederating as set out above, did B. J. HUDSON, NELSON BUNKER HUNT and RALPH SHANK become principles to that breach.

The New Documents

The new documents are also located within the Harold Weisberg collection at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, but in an entirely separate section than the earlier-referenced documents, which initially appeared to have included every document pertaining to Percy Foreman.

The first of the documents appears to be a wire transmission of a UPI article dated January 29, 1975 — though the two pages are undated, a “Received” date-stamp of April 15, 1975 suggests it was re-sent to someone about six weeks after originally sent. [2] The statements include a description of the charge against the Hunt brothers relating to their having arranged, in 1970, for two private detectives to wiretap the telephones of certain high-level aides of their father, H. L. Hunt (H.L. was still alive when the wiretapping was done, and did not die until November 29, 1974, as the case against his sons wound down, very slowly. He was probably not very proud of them — thus less generous to them than he might otherwise have been[?] — by that point).

These documents affirm the pertinent elements behind their fear that, as the eldest sons of H. L. and his first wife, they might be excluded entirely from his will and they were attempting to find out if that might be their father’s plan, so they could take countermeasures if it were true. It notes the lengthy delays in bringing the cases to trial and the central fact that Percy Foreman’s role was to bribe the “private eyes” and convince them to not testifying for the prosecution. One statement is particularly important in understanding the pressures they had faced: “If convicted they most certainly would go to prison as did the Houston private detective convicted of carrying out what the government believes were the directors of the brothers.”

(The pdf copies of referenced documents follow: To enlarge, “right-click” over image and select “Open Image in New Tab”, to the new tab and hover the cursor over image, then click on the “+” sign to enlarge)

Page 1 of 4/15/75 Document
Page 2 of 4/15/75 Document

The Case Against Percy Foreman Disappears . . . into the Woodwork, Thanks to Jimmy Carter and Griffin Bell, with a lot of help from Judge Woodward

The January, 1975 article, below, adds much additional background and context to the role of Percy Foreman in “controlling” the wire-tappers who the Hunts had hired, and whom they now feared, should they be allowed to testify, it would undoubtedly mean a prison term for both of the Hunt brothers.

The Hunt brothers were desperate to put the “kibosh” on the case and had their Washington lobbyists pull in their chits from everyone in their debt to ensure that would never happen.

Among other things, the article, by famed “muckraker” Jack Anderson, reveals that Foreman was running the entire operation: “Foreman will direct all strategy and guarantee Kelly will not testify before [the] grand jury;” that the wiretappers were offered $1,250 a month while in jail as long as they didn’t talk; that they were threatened — they would be “suicided” it they did cooperate with the prosecutors; that Nelson Bunker Hunt engaged Senator Jame O. Eastland (D-MS) to exert pressure on the appropriate Washington politicians to ensure that the “fix was in,” to force a closure to the entire legal process.

(The pdf copy of the document below may be enlarged by a “right-click” over the image, then select “Open Image in New Tab”, go to the new tab and hover the cursor over image, then click on the “+” sign to enlarge)

January 29, 1975 Merry-Go-Round Syndicated Column by Jack Anderson and Les Whitten [4]

The political maneuvering was what not only caused the multiple delays in getting the case shelved, but getting that done quietly, with no more future media coverage. This article was one of the last published, after the flourish of press attention in 1971-73; by 1976 it had almost disappeared and in 1977, when Jimmy Carter’s attorney general Griffin Bell ordered that the charges be dropped.

Percy Foreman’s case was thus summarily dismissed, the news media were completely silent (though an announcement of Bell’s order had been withheld from them, they failed in their implicit duty to follow-up on what was once a widely-reported major fraud by a famed attorney) and any residual public interest in seeking closure was flushed down A.G. Bell’s and President Carter’s private toilets.

The coup de grâce is Finally Reached for all Parties – Except the Key Man, Percy Foreman

On April 19, 1976, in the courtroom of Federal Judge Halbert O. Woodward (a crony of the then-late President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had died three years previously — though his “spirit” seemed to still be fully in control), who finally brought the legal wrangling to a close. At least, for everyone other than the central character, Percy Foreman, another long-time friend of LBJ. Foreman had done Johnson an enormous favor in November, 1968 by becoming the chief legal counsel for James Earl Ray; his mission was to ensure that Ray would be denied any semblance of a “fair trial,” thus guarantying that he would spend his life in prison. It was a huge success and it became one of his favorite legal victories, despite — undoubtedly for the first time — fighting on behalf of the prosecutors, not his client.

He must have considered his victory as the zenith of his career, and he wasn’t going to waste his newly acquired “Get Out of Jail Free” card and pay a $1,000 fine like the others involved in the case who just wanted it to end. But that was just not something the “Texas Tiger” could swallow. One thing about the following document (two pages + addendum) is clear, despite the efforts to hide it:

The redactions can only be about the missing “800 lb. Elephant,” in this story: Percy Foreman: [5]

This Document is Constructed to Hide Certain Facts
(Especially the Redacted Parts)
But it is Very Revealing Nonetheless

It should not go unnoticed that this “URGENT” memorandum was written — by the Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas FBI field office to the Director, Clarence Kelly — the day after these men met in the Dallas courtroom of Judge Halbert Woodward, in case there was any doubt that Washington politicians had an interest in those proceedings.

If a single, most salient point can be garnered from all of the facts presented above, and in the previous post of the same title, it would be that Percy Foreman was the key, pivotal figure in executing a well-organized covert plot to derail criminal charges against two of the richest men in America, circa 1969.

Yet despite his key role, his case was not included among those whose charges were dismissed by Judge Woodward. Which begs the question: “Why not?”

There can only be two realistic explanations for that — Either:

  1. His criminality was so great that justice could only be served by aggressively pursuing the criminal indictment already pending; or,
  2. Percy refused to buckle under by paying the $1,000 fine that Judge Woodward assessed, since that was all that was needed by the others to dismiss the charges entirely.

Since the first alternative was never pursued, it can be deduced that Foreman knew he held valuable information that could used to circumvent further adjudication of his case, allowing him to opt out completely. It may be presumptively concluded, in the absence of any indication that preparations were being made to take further legal actions, that he decided to take another route to get a dismissal from a higher authority, one that would save him the embarrassment of paying a $1,000 fine which a man of his means could easily afford, though his narcissistic pride could not.

If there is a logically-wrought conclusion to be had from this exercise in “deductive reasoning,” one that factors in not only the above legal aspects, but Percy Foreman’s huge ego and other personality characteristics — his love of money and his knowledge of “state secrets,” like the real story of Martin Luther King’s assassination and cover-up — then it can be reasonably postulated that Percy Foreman had earned what he considered to be a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, and this was the case where he would pull it out of his sleeve.

Yet, for it to have taken fourteen months to play his card indicates he had a problem doing so with the then-current President, Gerald Ford, a Republican. Either by his own volition he feared Ford wouldn’t bite — knowing that it was Johnson’s ploy, thus Ford’s dog wasn’t in the hunt, therefore he could be expected to have no interest in sparing the Democrat Party — or he had possibly tried and failed, for the same reason. More likely, he simply decided to await the predictable election, in the post-Watergate era, of a Democrat victory in 1976, only seven months away. Foreman must have expected that any new Democrat President would understand the devastating implications of not accepting his blackmail demand; by waiting a couple of months after the inauguration before playing his card he could be more assured of its effectiveness.

On June 6, 1977, Percy’s bold plan paid off when President Carter’s Attorney General Griffin Bell issued an instruction to Judge Woodward to dismiss the criminal charges against Foreman, an action discreetly hidden from the press for many years — until 5/2/1986,[6] even then without fanfare — with no questions asked, no explanation given.

When looked at in a retro-abstract manner, for Percy to hold out that long to “clear his name” means that it was more than simply saving $1,000 (approx. $4,500 today). Percy was a millionaire, that was peanuts to him. And it wasn’t such a bother to him him that his name had been impugned, after all, the story had essentially disappeared off the newspapers and television screens.

It was about the same paranoiac “illusions of grandeur” that he had in common with his friend, President Johnson: It was a public shaming that the other defendants had to be put through because only he had earned the “Get Out of Jail” card for his services, and if took over a year to play that card, that was not a concern for the Texas Tiger.

President Carter, Please Answer My Question

Shortly after I posted the first blog/article, I wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter, with a six-page attachment summarizing the events that had taken place between 1970 and 1977. I appealed to his professed faith in God and referenced John 8:32, “. . . and the truth shall make you free.” Then I posed this question to him:

Did Percy Foreman come to you with this request to drop the charges, and did he use his knowledge about how he had helped to frame James Earl Ray for the murder of Dr. King as a way to force you into this very difficult position?

As of this date, I have received no response from President Carter. I do hope that he will respond to the request with an explanation of what transpired in the decision to dismiss all charges against Mr. Foreman. The absence of such an explanation — both then and now — must otherwise be regarded as a tacit admission of the essential truth: That there is no other realistic explanation other than the obvious one, as stated in the question President Carter has been asked to answer.


[1] Harold Weisberg collection – Hood College Library, Frederick Md: Index of Collection/Weisberg Subject Index Files/Weisberg-Subject-Adds 1-23-09 / Percy Foreman folio, Item #39: (http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/Weisberg%20Subject%20Index%20Files/Weisberg-Subject-Adds%201-23-09/Foreman%20Percy%20FBI%20Records%20Disclosed%205-2-86/Foreman%2039.pdf

[2] Ibid., Percy Foreman folio, Item #40

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., Item #41

[5] Ibid., Item #46

[6] Ibid. Item #50

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