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50 Years Ago
Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 10, 201708:01 AM EST

50 Years Ago This Week: Indicted former official granted change of venue

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History often repeats, and there often are parallels between the news of today and 50 years ago. Here are some of the top news stories of this week in 1967 compiled from the Jacksonville Public Library’s periodical archives by Associate Editor Max Marbut.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

In a ruling likely to set a precedent for disposition of charges against all indicted City of Jacksonville officials, the trial of former City Commissioner Dallas Thomas was shifted from Duval County to Orange County.

Criminal Court Judge Warren Nelson issued the order moving the case to criminal court in Orlando on the grounds that Thomas couldn’t get a fair and impartial jury trial in Duval, because of widespread publicity concerning grand jury indictments of Thomas and seven other former Jacksonville officials.

Thomas, named by the grand jury in 37 counts charging grand larceny and in six counts charging acceptance of bribes, was originally scheduled for trial in Jacksonville on July 17 on one or more of the larceny counts.

That was forestalled, however, when Thomas’s attorney, Chester Bedell, filed the motion for a change of venue, which Nelson granted.

At the movies

This week in 1967, the Town & Country Theatre in Arlington was showing “Up the Down Staircase” starring Sandy Dennis. Meanwhile, the Atlantic and Main Street drive-ins were showing a double feature: “Wild, Wild Planet,” starring Lisa Gastoni and Tony Russel (his name is misspelled on the movie poster) and “Viva Las Vegas” starring Elvis Presley. 

Big change in jury selection for women

In about two months, women would play a more important role in the administration of justice in Duval and other Florida Counties.

Effective Sept. 1, women in Florida would no longer have to register with a circuit court clerk to be placed on the list for prospective jury duty in any court. Instead, residents on the voter registration list would be called for possible jury duty without regard for their gender.

The only concession was that expectant mothers and mothers with children 18 years or younger would be exempt, provided they asked the favor of the judge.

Small Claims Court judges get office space, apology

Duval County’s two Small Claims Court judges, who were cramped for space, obtained approval by the Duval County Commission for money to finance enlarged quarters.

By a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Bill Basford dissenting, a contract was awarded to A.J. Todd Construction Co. on a low bid of $48,800 to construct a larger office space for the judges on the third floor of the Duval County Courthouse on East Bay Street.

In addition, on a 3-2 vote, the commission approved increasing the appropriation for telephone service for the court by $375 a month.

In that case, Commissioner Bob Harris made the motion for the increase and was backed by Commissioners Fletcher Morgan and Lem Merrett.

Basford and Commissioner T.K. Stokes Jr. voted against the motion.

After the votes approving the improvements, Basford apologized for critical remarks he made at a commission meeting several weeks earlier concerning the operation of the Small Claims Court.

Basford, an attorney, had charged the court was too slow to dispose of cases and criticized legislation increasing the court’s jurisdiction and compensation for the judges.

When he voiced his criticism, Basford said he was “provoked by my concern with the money we have to provide” and was thinking about the lack of money to patch county roads that were in need of repair.

“I guess I get a little angry sometimes because it seems that other departments can get money when we can’t,” Basford said.

Khrushchev claims Russia influenced presidential vote

Nikita Khrushchev appeared on an NBC television network program and claimed the Kremlin helped John F. Kennedy defeat Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.

The former Russian premier said Nixon sought to gain votes by obtaining the release of U.S. spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers from a Soviet prison. Khrushchev said he and his comrades saw through the plan and denied Nixon’s request.

Speaking from his country house near Moscow, Khrushchev recounted a conversation he said he had with Kennedy in Vienna in 1961.

“I told him ‘the fact that you became president was due to us. We made you president.’ He asked me how he should understand that and I said ‘you collected 100,000 more votes than Nixon. Nixon asked us for Powers, the U-2 pilot, to be released and if we had done it, Nixon would have received half a million votes just for that,’” Khrushchev said in the interview.

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