Bernard Fensterwald

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Bernard "Bud" Fensterwald Jr. (August 2, 1921 – April 2, 1991) was an American lawyer who defended James Earl Ray and James W. McCord Jr. Other notable clients included Mitch WerBell,[1] Richard Case Nagell[2] and the widow of John Paisley.[1][3]

Early life[edit]

Fensterwald was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. Fensterwald graduated from Harvard Law School in 1949. He entered the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and received an M.A. in 1950.

Legal career[edit]

From 1951 to 1956 Fensterwald worked for the State Department as an Assistant Legal Advisor. This included defending State Department employees accused by Joseph McCarthy of being members of the American Communist Party. In 1957 Fensterwald was hired by Thomas C. Hennings as an investigator for the Senate Committee on Constitutional Rights. In the 1960s he was chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee under Senator Edward V. Long."[1] Fensterwald once implied that Long was being blackmailed by the FBI.[4]

Work on 11/22[edit]

In 1968-1969, Fensterwald and Richard E. Sprague founded a private sector "Committee to Investigate Assassinations," which primarily concerned itself with the Kennedy assassination.[citation needed] In the late 1970s, he was Congressman Thomas N. Downing's favorite to become chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations but withdrew himself from consideration after objection from Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez.[5][6] In 1984, Fensterwald and James Lesar (with whom Fensterwald had represented James Earl Ray[7]) founded the Assassination and Archives Research Center (AARC).[8]

Counsel to Watergate 'Plumber' James McCord[edit]

One of Fensterwald's more notable cases was his unsuccessful defense of Watergate criminal James McCord. He was also connected to other characters on the fringes of Watergate. John Paisley, who was the CIA liaison to the White House Plumbers, was Fensterwald's friend and neighbor. When Paisley died under suspicious circumstances, his widow hired Fensterwald to investigate.[1] Prior to the Watergate burglaries, both Fensterwald and McCord employed a private investigator named Lou Russell.[9]


Fensterwald died of a heart attack in Alexandria, Virginia, aged 69.[10]


  • Fensterwald, Bernard. Assassination of JFK. Zebra, 1977. ASIN: B000J00JA2
  • Fensterwald, Bernard and Michael Ewing. Coincidence or Conspiracy? Kensington Publishing Corporation, 1977. ISBN 978-0-89083-232-5


  1. ^ a b c d Hougan, Jim. Secret Agenda. p. 246. 1984. New York: Ballantine Books.
  2. ^ Russell, Dick. The Man Who Knew Too Much. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1992.
  3. ^ Russell, The Man Who Knew Too Much. See also Widows by William Corson, Joseph Trento, and Susan B. Trento.
  4. ^ Summers, Anthony. Official and Confidential, p. 207-208. 1993. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
  5. ^ Fonzi, Gaeton. The Last Investigation. p. 175-176. 1993. New York: Thunder's Mouth
  6. ^ Lane, Mark. Plausible Denial. p. 29. 1991. New York: Thunder's Mouth.
  7. ^ Pepper, William F. Orders to Kill. p. 77. 1995. New York: Carroll and Graf
  8. ^ Associated Press, Times-Union, January 21, 1992, Assassination Library: Washington collection a treasure trove of JFK material
  9. ^ Hougan, Jim. Secret Agenda. (passim)
  10. ^ Narvaez, Alfonso A. (April 4, 1991). "Bernard Fensterwald, 69, Lawyer For James Ray and Watergate Spy". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 

External links[edit]