San Quentin Trials

Early in his career, Mr. Carrow was counsel in two San Quentin Prison related cases in which he represented San Quentin inmates charged with murder and other crimes. The cases were tried virtually back to back and involved over two years of actual trial time. The trials had a number of unique aspects.

The first case involved the removal of Judge Harold Haley from his Marin County, California courtroom and his subsequent alleged murder. Guns were brought into the courtroom by Jonathan Jackson, who was thereafter joined by three San Quentin inmates involved in a trial then in progress before Judge Haley. Following the death of Judge Haley, Jonathan Jackson and two of the prison inmates, charges were brought against Angela Davis and Ruchell Magee. Mr. Magee, a San Quentin inmate, was accused of kidnapping and killing Judge Haley. Prosecution of the charges against Mr. Magee, which were severed from those against Angela Davis, resulted in what was then the most expensive criminal trial in the history of California and is the only criminal case, before or since, that was interrupted in the course of trial by a California appellate court. The California Supreme Court stopped the proceedings and ordered the trial judge to allow Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States, to join Mr. Carrow in presentation of Mr. Magee’s defense. Counsel previously associated by Mr. Carrow had withdrawn mid-trial.(Magee v. Superior Court 8 Cal.3d 949.) Following an eight and one-half month trial, in one of the nation’s first high security courtrooms, the jury was unable to reach agreement on the charges against Mr. Magee. In addition to the matters referenced above, the case involved other unique issues, including those discussed in Magee v. Superior Court 34 Cal.App.3d 201.

Labeled by the media as “The San Quentin Six case,” the second trial was of approximately seventeen months duration and was, at the time, the longest criminal trial in the history of the state. The case involved an alleged attempted escape from San Quentin by George Jackson, brother of Jonathan, and others. Jackson was a revolutionary, author and prison leader. Jackson, three guards and two other inmates died. Numerous prison uprisings, including Attica, followed the death of Jackson. The trial, also conducted in a high security courtroom, included a three month jury selection process, which involved consideration of more than two-thousand prospective jurors.

Mr. Carrow represented Luis Talamantez, a prison leader and poet, accused of murder and other offenses arising out of the incident. The jury found Mr. Talamantez not guilty on all charges.

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