Garrison remains a colorful and controversial figure; opinions differ as to whether he uncovered the actual conspiracy behind the John F. Kennedy assassination but was blocked from successful prosecution by Federal government coverup, whether he bungled his chance to uncover the truth of the conspiracy, or whether the entire case was a wild goose chase motivated by Garrison's desire for self publicity.
Jim Garrison was born with the name Earling Carothers Garrison in Knoxville, Iowa. His family moved to New Orleans in his childhood. He served in the United States Army in World War II, then got a law degree from Tulane University. He briefly worked for the FBI, then went into private law practice. He served as New Orleans' assistant District Attorney from 1954 to 1958. In 1961 he ran for District Attorney, succeeding in the race despite lack of major political backing, and took office in May of the following year. In 1973 he lost the office to Harry Connick, Sr.
The 1991 Oliver Stone motion picture "JFK" was partially based on Garrison's book. Kevin Costner played a fictionalized version of Garrison in the movie. Garrison himself had a small on-screen role in the film, playing United States Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren.