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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

MATTHEWS, Alphons L.

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Attorney Al Matthews is seen with two of his most famous clients, Caryl Chessman in 1948 and Barbara Graham in 1954. Both died in the gas chamber at San Quentin for their separate crimes.
MATTHEWS, Alphons L. (Dubuque, IA--1986) The brother of Blayney F. MATTHEWS and grandson of Alphons MATTHEWS, Alphons served as chief counsel in the Los Angeles County public defender's office and later was a famous criminal-defense attorney.

A man who would be covered in the press almost as much as some of this clients, he was a defender of civil liberties. His method of sympathizing with clients to argue their cases was on display in his representations of Caryl Chessman and Barbara Graham. The latter association earned him even wider fame as a character (played by Joe De Santis) in 1958's I Want to Live, with Susan Hayward as Graham.

Later Matthews was part of the defense team for Linda Kasabian, a member of the Charles Manson cult of the 1960s. In his 1986 obituary, the Times wrote

          his "constant fight for the abolition of capital punishment 
          prompted him to lend his name in 1968 to a group seeking clemency 
          for Sirhan Sirhan, convicted assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy... 

In 1974, Matthews gave up his right to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was protesting a ruling by the justices limiting the scope of the 1966 Miranda decision on defendants' rights to counsel.

Driving around town in his sea-green Cadillac convertible, Matthews enjoyed Hollywood connections, high and low, through his brother Blayney F. Matthews, chief of security at Warner Bros.



"Historic Los Angeles," Online: https://wilshireboulevardhouses.blogspot.com/2013/03/644-south-rossmore-avenue-please-see.html