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Center for Policy Studies
Public Affairs Discussion Group

The Warren Commission & the Academy: Exploring Truth in a Political World

Burt W. Griffin, J.D. - Judge of the Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County (ret.)
Friday February 20, 2015
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

It is nearly 50 years since The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known as the Warren Commission because it was chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren, delivered its final report, on September 24, 1964. The purpose of the commission was not only to determine the truth about the events of President Kennedy's assassination, but to be seen to determine the truth. Although that appeared to be the case for the first few years after the report, it was soon met with a dizzying array of counter-theories. Today, doubts have become institutionalized. Students who consult The History Channel's website,, will read about the report "alleging" that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, through the "notorious single-bullet theory."

Burt Griffin was one of 15 attorney investigators who staffed the Warren Commission. He joined the staff after graduating with honors from Yale Law School, working for two years at the U.S. District Attorney's Cleveland office, and joining McDonald Hopkins as an associate. Over his long career since the Commission reported, including three decades as a Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas Judge, he has observed how large majorities of Americans, as measured by polls, assert that Oswald was part of a larger conspiracy. Join us as he reflects on the Commission's work, public knowledge, and whether the education system helps explain the gap between the findings and public beliefs.

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guest

Burt W. Griffin retired as judge of the Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County, Ohio in 2005, after 30 years of service. From 1966 to 1975, he served as a legal aid lawyer in various capacities, including Executive Director of the Cleveland Legal Aid Society and National Director of the Legal Services Program, U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity.

He was Assistant Counsel to the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy during 1964.

Judge Griffin has been a lifelong resident of Greater Cleveland. He was born in Cleveland's Hough section in 1932, lived in the Shaker Square area of Cleveland from 1937 to 1960, and has resided in Shaker Heights since then. Judge Griffin graduated cum laude from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1954, and from Yale Law School with a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1959.

He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at Cleveland State University.

Where We Meet

The Friday Public Affairs Lunch convenes each Friday when classes are in session, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. We usually meet in the Dampeer Room of Kelvin Smith Library. The Dampeer Room is on the second floor of the library. If you get off the elevators, turn right, pass the first bank of tables, and turn right again. Occasionally we need to use a different room; that will always be announced in the weekly e-mails.

Parking Possibilities

The most convenient parking is the lot underneath Severance Hall. We regret that it is not free. From that lot there is an elevator up to street level (labeled as for the Thwing Center); it is less than 50 yards from that exit to the library entrance. You can get from the Severance garage to the library without going outside. Near the entry gates - just to the right if you were driving out - there is a door into a corridor. Walk down the corridor and there will be another door. Beyond that door you'll find the entrance to an elevator which goes up to an entrance right inside the doors to Kelvin Smith Library.

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

February 27: When the Police Use Deadly Force. Kevin Nietert, Chief of Police, South Euclid Ohio

March 6: What Explains the Price of Gasoline? With Steven W. Percy, former Chairman and CEO, BP of America.

March 13: Spring Break

March 20: TBD

March 27: Talking Turkey: Some Personal (and Historical) Perspectives on Turkish Politics and Society. With John Grabowski, Krieger-Mueller Associate Professor in Applied History; Senior Vice President for Research and Publications, Western Reserve Historical Society.

April 3: Origins and Prospects of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. With Karl C. Kaltenthaler, Professor of Political Science, University of Akron.

April 10:
Obama's White House and Management Style: A Recipe for Success or Failure? With David B. Cohen, Professor of Political Science, University of Akron.

April 17: TBD

April 24: TBD
February 16, 2015

If you would like to reply, submit items for inclusion, or not receive this weekly e-mail please send a notice to:

Upcoming Events

The Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March: 50th Anniversary Perspectives on a Civil Rights Landmark

A discussion with Diane Phillips-Leatherberry, who marched, and Daniel Clancy, Law, Class of 62, a long-time law school and university administrator who was an FBI agent assigned to the march, program moderated by Jonathan Entin, J.D., David L. Brennan Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Case Western Reserve University, Monday, February 23, 2015, 12 p.m., Room 158, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106-7148. Free and open to the public.

Wealth, Health, and Democracy in East Asia and Latin America

A discussion with James W. McGuire, Ph.D., Professor of Government at Wesleyan University, Tuesday February 24, 2015, 12:15-1:45 p.m., Tinkham Veale University Center, Ballroom A, Case Western Reserve University, 11308 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106. Sponsored by the Center for Policy Studies.

Why do some societies fare well, and others poorly, at reducing the risk of early death? In his award-winning book, Wealth, Health, and Democracy in East Asia and Latin America, Professor McGuire shows that the public provision of basic health care and other inexpensive social services has reduced mortality rapidly even in tough economic circumstances, and that political democracy has contributed to the provision and utilization of such social services, in a wider range of ways than is sometimes recognized. His conclusions are based on case studies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, as well as on cross-national comparisons involving these cases and others.

This program was made possible by the generosity of Ms. Eloise Briskin.

February 2015




































About the Friday Lunch Newsletter

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