The Jack Ruby Trial Revisited
“The Carl Sandburgs of the future will spend whole lifetimes trying to
analyze the drama of this week and this scene. What it all comes down
to—after the assassination of a president, the wounding of a governor,
the slaying of a policeman, and the killing of a man nobody really
knew—is little Jack Ruby.” —Syndicated columnist Dorothy Kilgallen,
“All of this publicity that we were getting was a little exciting but it
was far more frightening. Everyone concerned with the security of the
jury felt that no good could possibly come from this much exposure of
the jury to the public. Later on, many of us were to better understand
this.” —Max Causey, Jury Foreman
This was the cauldron into which twelve exceptional and ordinary people
were thrown in the winter of 1964, just three months after the public
murder of a president only blocks away, followed two days later by the
televised killing of his apparent assassin. The first juror selected,
and the eventual foreman of the jury, was Max Causey, a
thirty-five-year-old administrative engineer with Ling-Temco-Vought.
More than the other jurors, Causey was caught in the harsh glare of
publicity surrounding the trial.
The men and women who served as the jurors in the trial of Jack Ruby
were exceptional in that it became their singular duty to sit in
judgment on a man who played a bizarre and bloody role in perhaps the
most controversial event of the twentieth century. They were ordinary in
that nothing in their lives before or after the trial in February and
March of 1964 has distinguished them from millions of their fellow
citizens. They lived happily in quiet anonymity with the glaring
exception of the nearly four weeks of the Ruby trial. For those few
weeks, their pictures, names, and life stories appeared countless times
in newspapers and magazines worldwide.
During the course of the trial, Causey kept a longhand diary in a
reporter’s notebook, beginning on the second day of his term as a juror.
He continued keeping notes day-by-day as the trial continued, ending on
Saturday, March 14, when the jury delivered its verdict. He then wrote a
short epilogue. Later, he wrote a memoir from the diary he kept during
the trial. Both the memoir and the diary are presented here, augmented
with editor’s notes taken from the trial transcripts, books, newspaper
and magazine articles, and interviews with some of the surviving jurors.
Causey’s memoir and diary are first-hand accounts of one of the most
controversial, significant trials of the twentieth century, and reveal
new insights into the dynamics of the jury and its deliberations.
“In my thirty-five years on this planet I had never been exposed to a
more devastating shock than at that moment. I suddenly felt as though
the ceiling and all the upper seven floors of the Records Building had
collapsed on my head.” —Max Causey, upon being selected as the first
juror in the Jack Ruby trial