A mentor

One of the nicer things about working at my law firm is hearing other attorneys talking about the former members of the firm, in this case the senior partner of the firm when I first arrived. Sometimes those old stories find their way into print, as in this recent example:

small quotes blue[After clerking for Judge David W. Dyer, I returned to the private sector, and was working for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where] I was working on a sensitive criminal case arising out of the Kennedy Space Center. Our client, a contractor on the space program, had been accused of defrauding the government. It looked like the case might go to a grand jury for possible criminal charges. I was in charge of the day-to-day investigation. Part of my duty was to prepare for Armageddon if, heaven forbid, the company was indicted.

Starr ContemptWho would be our lead defense counsel? It couldn’t be a D.C. lawyer or, worse, a faraway California law firm. The situation called for home-state talent. Gibson Dunn retained Harris Dittmar, a Jacksonville litigator who had successfully defended former United States senator Edward Gurney in a corruption case. A staunch defender of President Nixon, Gurney had been indicted for perjury. To everyone’s surprise, “Ditt” won an acquittal.

“What’s the secret of your success?” I asked Ditt as we were driving to Orlando from Cocoa Beach.

“I let the judge and jury know that they can trust every word that comes out of my mouth,” Ditt said. “I will not be proven wrong.” That meant relentless preparation, plumbing the depths of the case.

Likability. Preparation. Honesty. Advice from seasoned attorneys like Judge Dyer and Ditt became my watchwords.

Ken Starr, Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Administration 18-19 (Sentinal 2018).

A kind tribute to a wonderful lawyer and man.

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