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History, Lies and a Liar

How about this as a starter for Our Monday blog? Did you refuse to turn back your clock? Not so much?

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I did learn on the internet this weekend that February 22, 2022 (2/22/22) falls on a Tuesday. We will be able to truly call it 2’sday. How about that! And you have to believe it because it was on the internet. Right?

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Which brings me to what is truth? It’s hard to know. Watching any TV right now pretty much guarantees a political ad. Right? I mean, come on!

That led me to wonder how often one politician calls another politician a liar. In the courtroom, that is a “no no”. Although, I have heard liar used. Usually, someone says of another lawyer, “You are practicing sharp practice” or “you are misrepresenting facts”. I have referenced Roger Clemens before, when he came up with a new word for liar during the Congressional steroid hearings. In discussing Andy Pettitte’s assertion that Clemens had injected steroids, Clemens simply dismissed the claim by saying that Pettitte just “misremembered“. A new word for liar.

That brings me to a portion of a transcript from a now deceased, Washington DC, defense lawyer. He also once owned the Baltimore Orioles. (Edward Bennett Williams, also known as EBW)

This transcript of his cross examination occurred during the time of the Watergate Scandal and subsequent hearings. John Connolly had served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Nixon and was charged with taking a bribe. Williams was defending Connolly.

As background, this is the same Connolly who had been Governor of Texas and had been seriously injured while riding in President Kennedy’s car, on the day that Kennedy was assassinated.

I could write a long blog, just about stories of Connolly. He was known as a master manipulator who would do things like instruct his aides to call airports where he was just arriving. The aides would ask airport announcers to page “John Connolly, you have an urgent call“. He wanted those at the airport to know that he was there, and also make him sound important.

That background also provides context to the following transcripts of EBW’s cross examination of Jake Jacobson. Jacobson was the principal bribery testimony witness against Connolly.  Jacobson was also a disbarred Texas lawyer.

In defending Connolly against these bribery charges, Williams obviously wanted to discredit Jacobson and destroy his credibility. This is how Williams (EBW) began Jacobson’s cross examination:

Q: Mr. Jacobson, you’re a liar, aren’t you, sir?

A: No, I’m not!

Q: Take a look at this document. It says “Statement of Jacob Jacobson” on the top. That’s you, isn’t it?

A: Yes.

Q: And that’s your signature on the bottom?

A: Yes.

Q: And the first sentence says, “I lied when I testified before the grand jury,” doesn’t it?

A: Yes.

Q: So you are a liar, aren’t you?

BOOM!

I guess Al Gore had not yet “invented the internet” (I love that whopper of a lie)… and Benjamin Franklin had not discovered electricity. So may it was hard to find the truth!

 

And finally for our pic o’ day!

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Liar Liar, Suit Pants on Fire

I approached my first class of law school with a bundle of nerves. I looked around to see a multitude of tight fake smiles, or people nervously fidgeting, giggling or constantly and repeatedly looking through book bags.

Then, my eyes landed on a guy sitting in the back with a pencil on his ear. He looked very calm. I didn’t know at the time, but he later was known to brag that he basically smoked marijuana for breakfast everyday. Maybe that explained some things, looking back. At the time, I just was fascinated at his air of confidence. For story purposes, we’ll call him “Rip”.

I was still hearing the voice of the welcome assembly speaker, who had told us to turn to our left and to our right and look real close at those two people. He then smiled and said that only only 1 out of every 3 incoming law students would end up graduating. The other 2… well, you can see why I was carrying the bundle of nerves.

Back to Rip. I had 4 classes with him that semester. He always raised his hand to participate. He was one of those. He even seemed to enjoy the terror of being called on by the Professor. They called that the Socratic method. I still just call it meanness.

During the entire first semester of law school, you really still don’t know if you belong. You only take a final exam in each course. Then, when you came back for the second semester, they would post your grades on a wall. That meant that everyone crowded around to look at their pre-designated number and then slowly move their eyes across the page. Nowadays, you can get your results online. At least you can suffer in privacy and binge on ice cream in your pajamas, if your grades don’t measure up.

When the next semester rolled around, Rip told me that he had done very well and that he was ranked in the top 1/3 of the class. That’s when it happened. One day, I walked into Civil Procedure class and noticed that Rip was not in his usual corner, top-right chair. After class, I was told that Rip had been expelled from law school.

I ran over to his room and found him. He told me that he had failed to list a misdemeanor criminal charge on his original law school application. As a result of the misrepresentation, they had expelled him. A year later, I learned that he was working as a manager in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, ABC store.

I was reminded of Rip when I read about the University of Illinois law school in The Chicago Tribune. The American Bar Association has fined them for reporting inaccurate consumer data. According to the story, they intentionally published false admissions data to make it look like their students had higher grades and law school (LSAT) admittance scores. They also falsely reported their number of applicants and under-counted their number of admission offers.

These false numbers helped the law school to be ranked higher in the U.S. News and World Report yearly law school rankings. Such false rankings help them to get more applicants and helped their scoring in the accreditation process.

Now, compare their punishment for fraud to what Rip received for a false application. They were fined $250,000 by the ABA and… well, there is no “and”. The admissions dean did resign. The ABA spokesman said that “No matter what the competitive pressures, law schools should not cheat.” Can’t argue with that!

For pic o’ day, I thought I’d try to tie it in to the story. Admissions thought they could throw it all together and fool everyone. How is that for a pic os the analogy work?

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