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WA, 1,44..thsat.4**444+.4,0*WWW11*** March 20, 1970 Twenty-Five Cents A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South The Texas Observer Before the Bar for Pot Austin Murderers, rapists, burglars, and other scoundrels waited their turns for trial as the State of Texas arrayed its resources, its attorneys, and the majesty of the law for the prosecution of Gary Cartwright of Austin, the novelist who used to be a sports writer. In March, 1968, the State charged, two narcotic agents had entered the Cartwright home in the hills by the lake west of Austin, and Cartwright had given one of them a marijuana cigarette. This act is a felony under Texas law, punishable by a term in the state penitentiary of not less than two years and not more than life . Accordingly, Oartwright was indicte6 1 on a felony charge. For almost two years, the Cartwrights, wife Jo, had had this charge and this penalty hanging over them. They went on with their lives, but fighting bitterness. For some months they were gone into Mexico, and when they came back, you could hear, in their enthusiasms for that other country, their doubts about this one. It was so free in Mexico, the people are so relaxed, there is such an ease of pace, and there is so much beauty there, in the way people are. In the squaring of Jo Cartwright’s jaws, a kind of haggardness in her spirit, one saw her concern for the man she loves. He was so different, of course, from anyone else indicted for possession of pot. They are tried and convicted every day, usually younger generation, which he is not, he is in the middle of his thirties, but all facing the same charge and the same law. The principal prosecutor for the State, Herman Gotcher, allowed as how, \(but only when another lawyer, he had tried 67 cases of this kind, and got 66 convictions. The one he lost, he explained, had some perjury complication. There were, however, two differences in Cartwright’s trial. Most marijuana trials are not covered at all. Just another kid on a pot charge. He is branded a felon for life and sometimes sent away; but this is a statistic. Cartwright, however, is a well-known man. His novel, The Hundred-Yard War, is a good novel on professional football and has gone into Novelist Gary Cartwright paperback. He has written a second novel, said to be entitled Great Issues Debate, which will be published in due time, and is working on his third. One senses that since his first one, his subjects have become more serious. The other difference was Warren Burnett. One hears wonder that Burnett has his law firm in Odessa. Why, for God’s sake, is such a famous trial lawyer in Odessa? He is a friend of Cartwright’s, and he was here to defend him against the fury of the state. Just the fact he was here in the courtroom attracted a number of law students down from the university, to watch him and learn. Gotcher, having admitted to winning 66 of 67 such cases as this one, added But this one is different! they’ve brought in the heavy, and the State was running for cover. That is the way of lawyers. Like football coaches, they compliment the other side, exaggerate their own limitations, anything that will make the enemy smug, get him off his best. For the trial, Cartwright wore a dark blazer and a tie, but did not cut his hair. He is an informal person, but not as informal as a hippie. His hair is unorthodoxly, but not hippieshly long, reaching his collar, and cascading in dark clumps, but combed, across his forehead, like bangs. Burnett and his colleague in the defense, the civil liberties and labor lawyer Sam Houston Clinton, Jr., of Austin, dressed, of course, in suits, as did the prosecutors Gotcher and’ Dain Whitworth and their two star, but both rather young, witnesses. BEFORE the trial -opened, the State advised the Defense that all the State wanted was “two years probation,” which means, in the courthouse shorthand, a felony conviction, a sentence of two years in prison, and remission of that sentence, conditional on good behavior under probation. Cartwright said someone for the State insisted that this decision had been communicated to the Defense months before; but if so, Cartwright had never heard about it. Naturally, he and his wife now felt relief, but in consultation with his lawyers, Cartwright decided that no, he would not settle for two years’ probation; he wanted to go to trial. The courtroom, throughout the three days of the trial, was a menagerie of modern life. The total squareness of the appearances of the forty men and women of the jury panel, and the courtroom