The Trial of the Century

“Orphan Ann” Home Page: IV. The Trial of the Century


“Orphan Ann” Home Page

Sayonara, “Tokyo Rose” … Hello Again, “Orphan Ann”!

(4 Jul 1916 – 26 Sep 2006)

IV. The Trial of the Century

“The trial? Well, it covered thirteen weeks and there was just a multitude of witnesses who appeared whom I’d never seen before, never heard of before and yet they professed to have known me. They testified that they saw the broadcasts, heard the broadcasts, which was impossible because the Allied POWs were under guard and they couldn’t have got into the studio. But they all testified that they heard me say these things and they saw me actually perform. So many witnesses were brought over here. I suppose, after the war, they were asked to come and given so much per-diem and three meals a day, a trip to the US, that a lot of people just jumped at the chance. It didn’t make any difference what sort of witness they would make.” —Iva Toguri, to CBS correspondent Bill Kurtis on The Story of “Tokyo Rose”, broadcast on 4 November 1969

Back in the U.S., Walter Winchell was campaigning heavily to have “Tokyo Rose” brought back to the U.S. for trial. The American Legion organized a national campaign to prevent Iva from being allowed to return. Harry Brundidge, now working for the Nashville Tennessean, got the U.S. Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General Tom Clark, a personal acquaintance of Tennessean publisher Silliman Evans, to back him and former FBI Special Agent John B. Hogan, now an attorney for the DOJ Immigration & Naturalization Service Division, in a bid to recover Clark Lee’s notes and have Iva Toguri sign them. He arrived back in Japan just as Iva was recovering from the loss of her son. No longer caring what happened to her, wanting only to get back to the U.S., Iva signed off on the document. Two months later, Brundidge published a 10-part series that began Arrest of “Tokyo Rose” Nears: She Signs Confession To “Sell-Out.”

Norman Reyes, now attending Vanderbilt University, was co-opted as a witness against her. Three months after that, Attorney General Tom Clark announced that Iva Toguri d’Aquino would be tried for treason in the 12th District Court in San Francisco. Iva was re-arrested at her apartment in Ikejiri and, for the first time, presented with a formal warrant charging her with “treasonable conduct against the U.S. government” during WW2. She was shipped back to the U.S. on a troop ship, which was greeted at the dock by a band playing California, Here I Come for the returning GIs. While speaking to a lawyer for the first time since her initial arrest three years earlier, she was taken out of jail illegally by the FBI, which attempted to interrogate her without counsel yet again, but her new lawyer, Wayne Mortimer Collins, interceded.

Iva spent the next nine months awaiting trial in San Francisco County Jail, without bail. Feeling she had to stay busy and be of service to others, she helped out at breakfast and dinner, waiting on tables and cleaning up afterward. She worked as a clerk/typist in the Marshal’s Office weekdays from 8am to 4pm and embroidered in her free time from 6 to 9pm, producing bright floral designs on three tablecloths for the jail dining hall. She had lost 30 pounds during the sea voyage and still suffered from chronic dysentery. Despite her own troubles, she earned the nickname “The Little Nurse” for her assistance and advice to the staff and other inmates.

The trial itself lasted thirteen weeks and cost $750,000; the most expensive trial in American history to that time. No one who had ever met Iva believed her guilty and the local press corps voted 9-to-1 among themselves for acquittal. The government brought in a parade of witnesses flown in from Japan with all expenses paid and a $10 per-diem allowance that would give most of them a good start back home. The defense, paid for entirely by Iva’s father, could only afford to bring in depositions from witnesses in Japan, many of whom had already been visited by the FBI and CIC.

When the defense uncovered evidence of perjury in the grand jury that indicted Iva, the judge ruled it inadmissible on the grounds that the alleged perjurer wasn’t testifying at the actual trial. All references to Iva’s work with the POWs was ruled inadmissible as being irrelevant to the question of treason. Charles Cousens flew in at his own expense to testify on Iva’s behalf, as did Wallace Ince. Norman Reyes recanted his earlier testimony for the prosecution and asserted that it had been coerced. The jury could not arrive at a verdict.


Note Note Note
$750,000 in 1949 gold-backed dollars would be about $9,000,000 in today’s currency. $10 in 1949 gold-backed dollars would be about $120 in today’s currency.


The judge gave the jury an “Allen Charge” and told them that the trial had cost the U.S. government half a million dollars before instructing them to resume deliberation and bring in a verdict. Their final determination was not guilty on seven counts, guilty on one: “That she did speak into a microphone concerning the loss of ships.” The minimum possible sentence was five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine, the maximum sentence was death. No one expected the latter and the local press corps speculated that she would receive the minimum sentence and be out in three years. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The judge, whose son had served in the Pacific during the war, later admitted to AP reporter Katherine Beebe Pinkham that he had been prejudiced against Iva from the start.

Note Note Note
$500,000 in 1949 gold-backed dollars would be about $6,000,000 in today’s currency. $5,000 in 1949 gold-backed dollars would be about $60,000 in today’s currency. $10,000 in 1949 gold-backed dollars would be about $120,000 in today’s currency.

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Last Update: 01 January 2020

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