Dallas Lawyers Take On Paula Jones’ Case
A small Dallas law firm with expertise in litigation and ties to a conservative advocacy group has taken on Paula Corbin Jones’ lawsuit against President Clinton, Jones and her spokesperson/advisor, Susan Carpenter-McMillan, announced Wednesday.
“I have all the faith in the world they will get me a jury trial--which is what I’ve been looking forward to,” said Jones, standing next to Carpenter-McMillan on the patio of her advisor’s San Marino home. Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, alleges that Clinton made a crude sexual advance to her in a Little Rock, Ark., hotel room in 1991. Jones now lives in Long Beach.
None of the six members of the law firm of Rader, Campbell, Fisher & Pyke were present at their new client’s press conference. But, in a phone interview, attorney Donovan Campbell, 46, promised to aggressively pursue the lawsuit and meet the trial date set for May.
“We have been engaged to win this case, and that’s what we will try to do,” Campbell said. “I have no instructions regarding a settlement.”
Jones’ previous lawyers quit the case after Jones turned down a proposed $700,000 settlement. Carpenter-McMillan said Jones rejected the offer because it contained only a general statement of regret from Clinton for any damage to her reputation, not an outright apology for his alleged behavior.
The new attorneys were chosen from about 100 firms offering their help, according to Carpenter-McMillan who, along with her attorney husband, William McMillan, screened the firms and whittled the group down to roughly 10. The finalists then met with Jones and her husband as well as the McMillans.
“They showed me they were willing to take it as far as they have to,” said Jones, who added that she felt comfortable with the attorneys, one of whom was born in Little Rock and all but one of whom graduated from Texas law schools.
“I said it was because they spoke country,” laughed Carpenter-McMillan.
Carpenter-McMillan said prospective lawyers were not evaluated on their politics. The case, she said, “has always been about a man who exposed himself. It has nothing to do with politics.”
The six-member law firm handles a variety of civil litigation. Campbell, who graduated from Princeton University in 1972 and from the University of Texas Law School in 1975, has also been involved in several high-profile cases involving conservative issues.
Campbell has worked as a volunteer attorney for the Rutherford Institute, a conservative religious-rights group based in Charlottesville, Va. The Rutherford Institute will be assisting in the Jones lawsuit, according to a statement from the lawyers, and will conduct fund-raising to help pay legal costs.
As a Rutherford attorney, Campbell wrote a brief in 1993, on behalf of 30 Texas state legislators, defending the Texas anti-sodomy law, which calls homosexuality a mental disorder. (The law had been challenged as outdated and unconstitutional.)
Similarly, for the Rutherford Institute, Campbell defended the right of a girls high school basketball team to huddle and recite the Lord’s Prayer after games. The practice had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union in Dallas.
The forceful stance of the new attorneys--who said in their statement that they will “vigorously prepare [the case] for trial"--is not good news for Clinton, who had hoped to settle the Jones lawsuit during the summer. Instead, Carpenter-McMillan said, Jones’ attorneys would be spending their first few weeks on the job handing out subpoenas.
“We can adhere to the scheduling order already set by the court,” Campbell said. “We don’t anticipate needing any extra time.”
Hall reported from Los Angeles and Savage from Washington.