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Inventory of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Records - Sirhan Sirhan Case File
96-03-17  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Notes
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Collections at the California State Archives
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Records - Sirhan Sirhan Case File
    Dates: 1968-1969
    Collection number: 96-03-17
    Creator: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
    Collection Size: 12 cubic feet of textual and photographic records
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department records - Sirhan Sirhan case file contains twelve cubic feet of textual and photographic records covering the period of his confinement by the Sheriff's Department following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. The materials consist of two groups of records, the Sheriff's Department office files and a partial transcript of the proceedings during Sirhan Sirhan's trial.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Every effort has been made to provide the fullest possible disclosure of the records. In the few places where restrictions are noted, the justification is firmly rooted in California statutory law. The specific statutory restrictions are as follows:
    • Specific law enforcement security procedures are restricted under California Government Code Section 6254(f) that exempts from public disclosure records of security procedures of any state or local police agency.
    • Records of intelligence information of the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice are exempt from public disclosure under California Government Code Section 6254(f).
    • Personnel information is restricted under California Government Code Section 6254(c) that exempts from public disclosure personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
    • Consistent with the California Public Records Act, California Government Code Section 6254, selected pages of the Courtroom Admittance Rosters have been restricted since they contain personal information concerning individuals including social security numbers, credit card numbers, and drivers' license numbers.
    In addition, two other types of records are restricted: FBI records; and police records from agencies other than the Los Angeles Police Department noted as "confidential". Researchers who desire access to these records should contact the FBI or appropriate originating jurisdiction directly to obtain records from that agency.

    Note

    A number of the items contained in the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department files are in poor physical condition. Some original documents were photocopied and then microfilmed to enhance the readability of the documents on microfilm. The photocopies are certified as true copies of the originals.

    Alternative Form of Materials Available

    A researcher should be aware that, with few exceptions, access to the records will be provided through a user version of a 16mm microfilm copy. Microfilm roll numbers are printed next to each microfilmed series described in the guide. The collection is being made available on microfilm not only to preclude use of information excluded from public access by state law, but also to ensure preservation of the originals. The entire collection has been microfilmed for security purposes.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Records, 96-03-17, [box and folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Records in January 1996 when the deed of gift for the records was received.

    Historical Notes

    In the early hours of June 5, 1968, New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy addressed a crowd of his supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Senator Kennedy, a candidate for President of the United States, had just won the California Democratic Primary. Winning the California primary was critical to his quest for the Democratic Party nomination. Senator Kennedy concluded his victory speech and then stepped from the stage and proceeded to walk through a kitchen pantry area of the hotel, shaking hands with some of the people who had gathered to see him. Shots were fired and Senator Kennedy and five other people were wounded in the shooting. Senator Kennedy died the next day as a result of his wounds.
    Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a twenty-four-year old, unemployed former racetrack employee, was subdued by some of the people crowded into the pantry. They held him until officers of the Los Angeles Police Department took him into custody. Initially, he did not speak or identify himself and was identified only as "John Doe." Nine hours after the shooting, he was transferred to the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. He remained in the custody of the Sheriff's Department through his trial until May 22, 1969 when he was transferred to San Quentin State Prison following his conviction in the death of Senator Kennedy. Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death as a result of his conviction. When the United States Supreme Court overturned the California death penalty law in 1972, Sirhan's sentence was automatically commuted to life imprisonment.
    The Sheriff's Department records detail Sirhan Sirhan's confinement in the hours, days and months following his arrest and through the end of his trial.
    For an overview of the case, researchers are encouraged to consult the Final Reports in the Los Angeles Police Department Records of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation, a separate collection at the California State Archives.

    Scope and Content

    The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department records-Sirhan Sirhan case file contains twelve cubic feet of textual and photographic records covering the period of his confinement by the Sheriff's Department. The materials consist of two groups of records, the Sheriff's Department office files and a partial transcript of the proceedings during Sirhan Sirhan's trial. The office files include jail logs that document Sirhan Sirhan's activities twenty-four hours a day and memoranda from deputies describing their conversations with Sirhan. The jail logs and deputies' statements are notable in that they document Sirhan's behavior and interests. Also included are courtroom security files, press releases, newspaper clippings, and Sirhan's requests for reading materials. In addition, there is a large quantity of letters from the public sent to Judge Herbert Walker, the presiding judge for Sirhan's trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court. There are photocopies of letters sent by the public to Sirhan. The collection also includes photographs of Sirhan's jail cell, the courtroom, and of Sirhan meeting with his attorneys. There are a few artifacts in the collection including a pen that Sirhan broke in the courtroom and safety pins used to prick Sirhan's hand during neurological tests.
    The records have been organized following the filing system and order established by the Sheriff's Department, as is customary in archival practice. Series titles have been retained. Significant duplication shows up throughout the records. For example, a particular press release or photograph may be in several different parts of the collection. In order to document this practice, such duplication has not been eliminated unless it occurred within the same file unit. All duplicate material has been retained.

    Related Collections at the California State Archives

    California Supreme Court case file, People v. Sirhan Sirhan, CRIM 124026
    Los Angeles Superior Court case file, People v. Sirhan Sirhan, A233421
    Los Angeles Police Department, Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation Records, F3901, F3906

    Related Collections at Other Repositories

    Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archives, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Road, North Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Los Angeles County (Calif.). Sheriff's Dept.
    Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
    Sirhan, Sirhan Bishara, 1944-