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Irving Kanarek

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Irving Kanarek

Irving A. Kanarek (born 12 May 1920)[1] is a retired criminal defense attorney best known for representing Charles Manson and "Onion Field" killer Jimmy Lee Smith.

Kanarek's first career was as an aerospace engineer working for North American Aviation (NAA), where he invented a corrosion inhibitor for Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid for the Army's Project Nike.[2][3] On 12 July 1954 the US Air Force revoked Kanarek's security clearance and he was dismissed from NAA.[4] Kanarek attended the University of Washington as an undergraduate and Loyola Law School. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1957.[5]


  • Legal tactics 1
  • Later life 2
  • Popular culture 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Legal tactics

According to Tate-LaBianca prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, Kanarek was legendary in Los Angeles courts for his dilatory, obstructionist tactics. In his book Helter Skelter, Bugliosi claimed that Kanarek in a different case once objected to a witness identifying himself; the lawyer claimed it was hearsay because the witness had first heard it from his mother.[6]

In the Tate-LaBianca trial, Kanarek objected nine times during opening statements, despite continuous censure by Judge Charles Older. During a later objection, he called witness Linda Kasabian insane, and by the third day of the trial, he had objected more than 200 times. During the trial he was sent to jail twice by Judge Older for being in contempt of court. In his summation, Bugliosi dubbed Kanarek "the Toscanini of Tedium."[7]

However, Bugliosi also felt Kanarek was the most effective of all the defense attorneys in the Tate-LaBianca trial. Kanarek frequently scored points and kept vital evidence out of the trial. According to Bugliosi, Kanarek fought as if he personally were on trial.

Later life

Kanarek resigned from the bar in 1990[5] and currently lives in southern California.

Popular culture

Several movies have been made of the Manson Family in which Irving Kanarek is portrayed. In November 2008, a stage play premiered at North American Aviation. The character of Kanarek appears throughout most of the play.


  1. ^ Parsons, Dana (25 October 1998). "Barred From World He Loved, Just Getting By Is a Trial". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA). Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  2. ^ Sutton, George Paul (2006). History of liquid propellant rocket engines. Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. p. 40.  
  3. ^ US 2760845, Irving A. Kanarek & Paul E. Friebertshauser, "Stabilized Fuming Nitric Acid" 
  4. ^ "Irving A. KANAREK v. The UNITED STATES.". Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Attorney Search". State Bar of California. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  6. ^ Bugliosi, Vincent; Gentry, Curt (1974). Helter Skelter. USA: Bantam Books. p. 379.  
  7. ^ Bugliosi, Vincent; Gentry, Curt (1974). Helter Skelter. USA: Bantam Books. p. 549.  
  8. ^ "Rocket Girl"

External links

  • The Charles Manson Trial: Other Key Figures
  • article on KanarekThe Compleat LawyerAmerican Bar Association
  • , No. G020180 on the docket of the Fourth Appellate District, Division Three (Word DOC)Kaufman v. The Superior Court of Orange County
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