Scope and Content
Related Collections at the California State Archives
Title: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Records - Sirhan Sirhan Case File
Collection number: 96-03-17
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
12 cubic feet of textual and photographic records
California State Archives
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 represented in the collection:
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.
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.
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
[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.
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
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-