The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,
and particularly describing the place to be
searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Constitution of the United States
To recapitulate: In the late afternoon on Friday, the 13th of August, 1999, an agent from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) showed up at Judith Phillips’ home. I had been living with her for over a year. The agent, Patrick Maroney, presented me with an “invitation,” which he was careful to point out was not a subpoena, to testify to the Jefferson County Grand Jury. Neither my lawyer, Chuck Leidner, nor I had ever heard of a prosecutor issuing an “invitation” to testify at a grand jury inquiry. We guessed that by having served as Lewis’ lawyer and refusing to identify him for Jefferson County authorities in the spring of 1997, the Jefferson County District Attorney, Dave Thomas, was going to try to force me to testify and to name Lewis.
It was politics. If Thomas and his chief deputy prosecutor, Dennis Hall, wanted to force my testimony, he knew he could subpoena me. Though he could offer me immunity from prosecution, I could claim attorney/client privilege. This action on my part would only stall the grand jury proceedings. Here was my choice: I could show up, gratefully, to snitch on my client and my friend, Lewis; or I could become a target for a prosecution. Leidner contacted Hall, and declined the invitation for me. We surmised that the issue of commercial bribery, which had smoldered for more than two years earlier as a non issue, had been rekindled. We expected a subpoena next or, more likely, an indictment for either bribery or conspiracy to put my neck on the line if I didn’t inform on my client. I called Lewis. He laughed one of his deep throated belly laughs and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
“Craig,” I said, “I am worried, and this is something you should really be worrying about.”
I recalled to Lewis the events leading up to the interview with Burkhalter in May, 1997. Although I was not a major target of the grand jury investigation, and I could legally continue to hold Lewis’ confidence and refuse to identify him, the Jefferson County prosecutor obviously hoped that the threat of criminal charges would frighten me into identifying my client and possibly revealing a connection between him and James Rapp that I knew did not exist.
I hadn’t practiced law since May, 1998, having put my license on inactive status. My roots in the American west, growing up in Colorado with my father’s family from Texas, caused me to think of myself at this time, albeit romantically, as a “cowboy.” I wore my 3X Stetson to tatters and conversed fondly in Spanish or “American hic,” with anyone who would oblige me. On cold days I wore a thick Mexican poncho instead of a coat. I did all this to signal how far I’d strayed from my professional life as a lawyer. All that, of course, changed with Maroney’s visit on Friday the 13th.
The strategy behind the grand jury “invitation” forced me to decide whether to hold Lewis’ confidence, or roll over and help in his prosecution. In the aftermath of the Columbine massacre, the newspapers had been full of reports of the Jefferson County Grand Jury’s indictments of information brokers James and Regana Rapp. Rapp’s activities scamming McGuckin Hardware while looking for Patsy’s credit card records in the Ramsey case had brought him to the attention of authorities. Dave Thomas in Jefferson County, with jurisdiction over both Columbine and the April Fool’s Day fiasco at Vacca’s home and the ransom note, did the hatchet job on the information broker and the ransom note.
I knew that Rapp was liable to say anything, including something completely untrue, about Lewis or me, if it would help shave time from the convicted felon’s prison sentence that he likely faced. Lewis had displayed a similar, but craftier bravado. He had been targeted all through the Ramsey investigation. If Lewis could be tied to Rapp, the grand jury might snare the one big fish prosecutors were looking for.
Meanwhile, Lewis had moved to Boca Raton, Florida, and had received a promotion and a raise for his work in Boulder. He felt pretty safe there, so far from the eye of the storm in Colorado. “Fuck ‘em,” he said.
“Not good enough,” I told him. “If I do receive a subpoena and have to hire a lawyer, are you and The Globe going to cover my expenses?”
“Of course,” he said. He had always paid his bills and I believed him.
Chuck Leidner and I met Raj Chohan, a reporter for the CBS affiliate in Denver, on August 17, 1999, to air my side of the story. The story aired on August 19, 1999. I was immediately indicted by the Jefferson County Grand Jury on one count of commercial bribery, a felony. This was the resurrection of a two-year old investigation. When the CBI contacted my attorney to advise him of the indictment, the agent explained to Leidner that there would be no summons, as is usual in low level white collar crime, but rather an arrest. I was to turn myself in on Monday morning, August 23, to be booked and taken to the Jefferson County jail and held until a $1000 bail could be posted. This was not typical. This was tabloid. This was a lawyer caught in white collar crime. This was the JonBenet Ramsey case. This was also payback. I wanted to tell the public I knew of the perfidy and abuse going on in the criminal justice system. I contacted several reporters I had met.
When I arrived at the CBI headquarters in Lakewood, a Denver suburb, an agent had tipped Carol McKinley of Fox News to film what is known in media circles as the “perp” walk. That is when the suspect is paraded in handcuffs by the police in front of the cameras for the 6:00 news. I had already called Chohan, and an hour before going to the headquarters to be taken into custody, I had taped an interview for CBS News describing the conduct of Thomas’ office and the CBI as “corrupt.” I accused John and Patsy, in collusion with their lawyers, of arranging for the filing of charges and my arrest in an effort to discredit my handwriting analysis that pointed to Patsy’s involvement in JonBenet’s death. I also stated for the record that I believed Patsy was complicit in the death of JonBenet. Not all of my statements were aired.
Idiot Boy’s Revenge
Lewis had always referred to the “aid” his editors from The Globe assigned to him, Jeff Shapiro, as “Idiot Boy.” Lewis had escaped any number of police plots and investigations into his high jinks, but with the grand jury testimony of former tabloid reporter, Shapiro, the revenge was served cold. Shapiro knew nothing about Lewis’ visits to the Vacca residence in 1997. But, during editorial meetings by telephone, he had tape-recorded The Globe’s editors. During one meeting, Lewis had suggested contacting Detective Thomas and offering to show Thomas the family photos he had bought from a family member in Arkansas. Lewis had followed up on the idea, approved by his editors, by mailing copies of the pictures to Thomas. That act of “blackmail,” along with Shapiro’s tape recording of the plan, and his handing over the tape recordings to the police, were enough for a charge of extortion against Lewis.
When I failed to report to the grand jury commercial bribery investigation upon their invitation, the DA raised the stakes and brought an indictment against me. He could still offer me a “deal,” and allow me to plea to a lesser charge, one that wouldn’t necessarily cost me my license to practice law, if only I would testify against Lewis. He needed my testimony to make his charges stick. I had no more desire to cave in to the prosecutor’s threat than the ex-cop did to The Globe’s suggestion to interview him.
While being fingerprinted at the CBI headquarters, I met a former private investigator whose reputation I knew, but whom I had never met in person, Agent Robert Brown. He had worked for years in partnership with Jane Cracraft, a former Denver Postreporter, in the firm of Brown & Cracraft. He was an elderly man in 1999. He told me he needed hip replacement surgery and I could understand why he had left private investigations for the return to secure bureaucracy of state employment. His mind was still sharp, and he headed up the Jefferson County Grand Jury inquiry into Rapp, Lewis and me. Both Maroney and Brown were courteous and professional as I was being booked. Once they put on the handcuffs and escorted me to the cameras waiting outside, the reality hit on me full force. I was going to jail.
I was placed in an unmarked police vehicle with my arms secured behind my back. Steel cut off the blood to my hands. I was determined to behave as a professional, but I was angry, helpless, frightened, finally able to understand the sense of degradation my clients had complained of. I knew from my training in law and my experience as a private investigator I had not committed a crime. Yet, in custody and handcuffs, I felt “guilty” and at the mercy of my captors. Brown and Maroney used the circumstances of my arrest to attempt to reel in the evidence they wanted on Lewis.
“So, how did you first come to know Craig Lewis?” Brown asked. I smiled. I had hoped not to be treated as a fool. “Craig who?”
Brown chuckled as he drove. Perspiration broke out on my forehead and over my lip. Maroney sat immediately behind me. He was about 40, much less than six feet tall, but as big around as the Michelin Tire character. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was going to get a “love tap” on the back of my skull from him. I had dismissed him at my home when he handed me my grand jury invitation, turning my back to him and walking away without a word before closing the front door. My clients had told me many times of the kicks, punches and falls onto hard pavement at the hands of the police officers once those handcuffs went on and any witness was left behind. I had always told them, “I can’t do anything about that without a witness or some proof.” I realized how little consolation those words had been. With a high profile case such as I found myself in, and with the interview I had done for a television reporter, I hoped for a “safe” journey, and got one.
I was locked in a holding cell with three other men. I found myself far less edgy, a sense of security beginning to envelope me as inmates in orange jailhouse blouses and pants moved about among the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies. I met men in the cell being held on charges ranging from traffic violations to domestic violence. I had been arrested for commercial bribery and was a lawyer. “Oh, you’re here on white collar crime,” a man with a mustache and close cropped hair said. He asked me several times for the details of my brush with the law. I wondered what his keen interest was in me and if he was a either a cop, or a jailhouse snitch. I kept my mouth shut.
The hours passed slowly, as they are supposed to in jail. Another prisoner arrived, a good sized young man, about 25, with blond hair. He boasted about the beating he received in the Adams County jail a month earlier. He had fought back when a sheriff’s deputy pushed him into a cell. He claimed that it had taken five more deputies to finally subdue him and that his paperwork had been “lost” for several weeks while his bruises healed. I don’t know if it really had taken five men to subdue him, but I did believe the story about the misplaced paperwork and the bruises. I’d had several clients who had suffered the same kind of “mistake,” after failing to act with sufficient docility.
Lunch came: a baloney sandwich and an apple accompanied by lockdown. The rules were that during lunch all inmates must be locked in their cells. It felt to me like being in a Volkswagen Beetle with the windows rolled up and a squad of smelly men trapped inside. I began to breathe with a little labor. Sweat poured from all the inmates in my cell. I found a spot on the concrete bench with my back against the wall and tried to breathe slowly and deeply. By then my angina began. Terrifying pressure grew in my chest. Pain that comes with every breath, no matter how shallow, began.
“Are you okay?” the man who had shown so much curiosity about my charges asked. “You look really pale.”
I shook my head.
The big young man pounded on the cell door. “Hey!” he shouted, “Something’s wrong with a guy in here!” He hit the door again, and again. “He looks like he’s really sick.”
Suddenly the door opened. The guards ordered me from the cell and sat me on a bench across from the holding cell. I had brought nitro glycerin tablets with me to the jail, but they had been taken from me. A nurse showed up and offered me one. My vision was blurred and the pain thudded in my chest. “These don’t look like my nitro,” I said.
“Well,” the nurse said, “these are the pills you brought in with you. Take ‘em or leave ‘em.”
I put one under my tongue, and, as it began to dissolve, the threat of death rising from my heart began to ease. The bail that had been posted for me several hours earlier was miraculously found by the authorities and I was released. Two friends picked me up from the jail and got me home. In six hours I learned what accused criminals describe in our criminal justice system as “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Advice To A Cowboy
Life changed dramatically. I looked forward to piecing together the wreckage my health and domestic problems had made of my life through one of the greatest of all tonics for good health – work. My arrest, perp walk and statements on television precluded employment in the media sensitive field of education. As a matter of fact, my felony indictment precluded employment in general. The Globe had sent me $6,000 by overnight mail before I turned myself in to the CBI, $5000 to retain Chuck Leidner and $1,000 to post bail.
Leidner had practiced law in Colorado for nearly 30 years, both as a prosecutor and as a public defender. He’d spent most of his career as a criminal defense lawyer. He had mentored me, befriended me and had referred cases to me. We had become close professional friends and I fully trusted him. Unfortunately, I failed to take his advice on two occasions. First, in 1997, he advised me to not provide a statement to Burkhalter, the Jefferson County investigator. I did so anyway at Lewis’ request. Second, he advised me not to lambaste the Ramseys, their lawyers, or DAs Hunter or Thomas in a television interview following my “invitation” to testify before the grand jury. I didn’t believe that I knew better than Leidner, I had simply grown disillusioned with law and become a “cowboy,” a person who wants to ride off into the sunset, but who often ends up scalped.
Leidner is an excellent lawyer, a sole practitioner who tries cases and works from an office suite in downtown Denver. He saw the intent of Jefferson County to force me to talk or to prosecute me, and he respected my refusal to turn on my former client. He advised me to hire a law school friend of his, Gary Lozow, a partner in the prestigious (read: expensive) law firm of Isaacson, Rosenbaum, Woods, & Levy. He identified Lozow as “the best criminal defense lawyer” in Denver and he believed I’d need the kind of representation that a large law firm could provide. He would remain on the case as co-counsel. The media attention that the Ramsey case brought had already raised my stakes.
District Attorney Thomas had a political imperative regarding Lewis’ prosecution. He wanted to teach me, through the media and thus through me to the Colorado criminal defense bar, a lesson about thwarting “the interests of justice” as his office interpreted those “interests.” The loss of my license to practice law was only one of the penalties that would be exacted from me for protecting Lewis.
Lewis would soon be charged with both commercial bribery and extortion. His lawyers in Florida and Colorado knew it and so did his editors. As a matter of fact, his editors worried that Dave Thomas, in faraway Jefferson County, might bring them under his Big Top for their “conspiracy” to commit extortion. I was the only person who could positively identify Lewis as having been at the Vacca household looking for the most famous ransom note in history. As long as I held my tongue and protected my client, The Globe would fund my defense.
While in the public defender’s office, Leidner worked with a crafty private investigator, Wally Barrett. This investigator had also worked with Haddon. Barrett though, claims the humanity of a saint. He had been the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office’s chief troubleshooter in homicide defense investigations. In the early 1970’s he had worked alongside Haddon, Morgan and Foreman. At the time the three lawyers opened their law firm in the mid-1970’s, Barrett began working as a private investigator. He has investigated as many homicides for criminal defense lawyers as any other private investigator in Colorado. I had known Barrett for years while I owned Investigative Reporting Services, Inc., and we shared office space in downtown Denver when I worked as a lawyer. He now began assisting Leidner and Lozow in preparing my defense. During this time he also took responsibility for lassoing in my “cowboy” anger and irreverence for the dysfunctional criminal justice system. He had his hands full.
Barrett began to work with me as he and I had worked with my criminal defense clients over the years. He talked me into shaving off my beard and mustache, into cutting off my shoulder length hair. He made sure I dressed as a professional for my first appearance, September 7, 1999, before Jefferson County District Judge Jane Tidball. I appeared without my lawyers that day because it was a simple appearance to continue my bail. The prosecutors in the courtroom didn’t have my file and didn’t know what my charges were. Hall, the grand jury prosecutor, didn’t show up. A process server on a debt I hadn’t been able to pay did show up, however, along with a half a dozen reporters. After Judge Tidball had rescheduled me for my next appearance, Barrett and I ducked into an elevator, then down a hallway to escape the reporters following us from the courtroom. We obtained permission from a court clerk to use a back stairway out of the courthouse. I saw James Rapp in the parking lot trying to avoid another gaggle of reporters. “You can call the press,” Barrett quipped, “but you can’t call them off.”
During a hearing two days later on September 9, 1999, Judge Tidball ruled that, I not only had a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, but that the issue of attorney/client privilege prevented my testimony to the grand jury. My subpoena to testify was quashed, and I was then no longer to be forced to testify. During the lunch break, I went to a local coffee shop to meet Lewis, who had come to Denver to meet with his lawyers and to check out my hearing. When I saw him enter the restaurant, he looked directly at me, but Barrett’s “cleanup” of me had been so thorough that he did not recognize me.
Over the years I had watched police and prosecutors stretch both the truth and their powers of authority to bring about the “law and order” they believed in. As a practicing lawyer responsible for the defense of those persons who had been caught in the questionable use, or abuse, of authority, my cheeks sometimes burned, but I kept my anger in check in order to obtain a better resolution for my client. That’s part of a lawyer’s job. A lawyer has no personal, emotional stake in the conduct of the police or prosecutors. He’ll have his chance to clear things up on the record. But, when I found myself in the defendant’s chair, with my own freedom threatened by the man at the prosecution’s table, I learned the difference between the professional frustrations lawyers must deal with and the real gut wrenching instability and helplessness of the accused in America.
On September 14, 1999, l was driving into Denver for the permanent orders hearing to finally settle my divorce, a civil action that had been going on for three and one half years, at a cost of over $100,000. I was taking an anti-anxiety medication a doctor had prescribed to prevent another heart attack. I had found it extremely effective in dealing with courtroom stress, but also powerful enough to relieve me of common sense and good judgment while making my sleepy. My need for this medication was one of the reasons why I had quit practicing law. As I drove, I tuned my radio to the Peter Boyles’ Show. He was once again discussing the Ramsey case. The discussion included Lewis, me and the circus going on in Jefferson County. Boyles’ opinion was that by prosecuting Lewis and me the government was attempting to shoot the messenger rather than to solve a murder. I called in and Boyles put me on the air. I excoriated Haddon for his political manipulation of the prosecution, and attacked Thomas and his office for their willingness to work as Haddon’s goon squad. It felt good, but it was ill-timed, ill-mannered and foolish. In the following day’s newspaper, Haddon’s response was that I was the one charged with a felony, and that “the facts speak for themselves.” I must be guilty, the astute remark implied. And, since the Ramseys were never charged, they must be innocent.
I derived much of my bravado and antagonistic attitude from an extraordinary luxury only a very few thrust into the criminal justice system enjoy. I didn’t have to pay for my private defense. Lozow, while a friend of Leidner, and one of the most brilliant lawyers I have had the good fortune to meet, was hellishly expensive. He billed not only for his time, but for the time of his young associate, Rick Kornfeld, for paralegals and for other of his associates involved in my defense. There was neither a “budget,” nor any question that the invoices would be paid.
The Jefferson County Grand Jury had indicted Lewis soon after I had refused to testify. I recalled sitting in the courtroom after Lewis’ indictment, surrounded by the lawyers on The Globe’s payroll: Lozow and Leidner on my behalf, Jeff Pagliuca, for Lewis, Dan Recht for The Globe, and Scott Jurdem for Recht. When Dennis Hall entered with agent Maroney, the CBI agent exclaimed under his breath, “Jesus!” at the sight of all of those suits clocking in at anywhere from $200 to $500 per hour. The hearing that morning, including the preparation time, probably cost The Globebetween $12,000 and $15,000, and there would be many more hearings on other days on as many issues as these gifted lawyers could think of. It did not matter that it would later be determined that no crime had occurred.
The Globe is not a charitable institution. Much of Lewis’ success as a tabloid reporter consists in his ability to treat a source cheap and buy the information he wants for less than the “market” value. Neither The Globe, nor its sisters and cousins in the tabloid market, are given to professional courtesy or loyalty. Had I not been holding a very important confidence for The Globe, there would have been no gang of lawyers working confidently to protect my rights. If Lewis had not been tape recorded talking to the editors of The Globe about blackmailing Detective Thomas for an interview, putting their necks on the line, he may also have been expendable.
The Globe was caught in one very expensive legal struggle. If the tabloid had abandoned Lewis, he may have “rolled over” on his editors and given testimony against them on the extortion issue to save his own skin. And, to keep Lewis from rolling over, The Globe had no choice but to underwrite my legal expenses. While John and Patsy had a contingency of lawyers to protect them from charges, The Globesupported easily the same number of lawyers to protect Lewis and me from supercilious and phony charges regarding protected speech under the United States Constitution.
On November 12, 1999, Judith was working in the basement office we shared at our home. I was watching television. At around 6:00 p.m., our dogs, two Weimaraners, began barking at a knock at our front door. A moment later, Judith’s daughter, Lindsey, called for me to come to the door. “There are a lot of men and some cops at the door. They said they have to see you,” she said.
I hurried to the opened front door. My front porch was filled with cops in street clothes and others in uniform. Maroney had knocked on the door.
I hooked closed the screen door and said, “Oh, I’m not happy to see you again.”
“Why not?” the agent asked.
“Because every time I see you there’s trouble,” I said. “So, what’s the trouble?”
“I have a search warrant,” Maroney stated, “and I need you to let us in.”
“Let’s see the warrant.”
Maroney held up a folded piece of paper that I couldn’t possibly read. From behind me, our female Weimaraner was still barking, and both dogs were trotting back and forth across the living room, frightened and ready to protect our home.
“Let’s see it,” I said.
“Open the door,” another cop who stood next to agent Maroney ordered, opening his coat and placing his hand on his gun.
“Show me the warrant!”
“Open the door,” the cop with his hand on his gun ordered again, “or we’ll break it down.”
“I’m not letting you inside my home unless you show me the warrant! You know that’s how it works.”
“Put your dogs away, or I’ll shoot them if I have to,” the bullying cop threatened.
“Put a muzzle on him,” I said to Maroney.
Maroney put out his hand to calm down the trigger-happy cop.
I had defended enough clients to know that the reason the police did not want me to see the search warrant was because there had to be something wrong with it on its face. Of course, until I actually saw the paperwork, I had no idea what could be the matter. I also knew that I had a frightened twelve-year-old girl on the stairway behind me, a trigger happy cop threatening to kill our pets and nothing to hide. Whatever these “public servants” wanted, I doubted they’d find anything incriminating.
I collared my hunting dogs, unlatched the screen door and stepped back. In an instant, my home was filled with police. One went upstairs, others took positions in the hallway leading to Judith’s and my bedroom, and in the living room, dining room and kitchen. The bulk of the force went to the basement. I followed them, and found them in the office where Judith sat in silent amazement. I sat down at my desk.
“Show me the warrant, now that there’s a witness,” I said.
Maroney handed me the papers. As I had suspected, the cops had made a mistake.
Maroney had last been to my home to serve me with an invitation to the grand jury. He’d been a career cop. Earlier that evening this twelve year veteran of police work had taken troops of Boulder’s finest to the wrong address at the other end of the block. When he knocked on the door and the astounded Asian woman in residence there denied any knowledge of me, the CBI agent realized that he had gone to the wrong house, a half a block to the north of ours. Thus, he was obliged to return to the Boulder Police Department to prepare an amended search warrant with the corrected address. That paperwork, duly redone, and authorized a second time by a judge, Maroney and the Boulder Police Department proceeded for a second time to the wrong address. Although Maroney had corrected the numerical address, he hadn’t corrected the street name. Judith and I lived on Lincoln Place, not Lincoln Avenue. Though the search warrant was flawed on its face, the police continued with their illegal search. I called my lawyers.
Maroney, meanwhile, went to the bookcase behind my desk where the diaries I had kept since 1979 were stored, and pulled the volume from 1997 from the shelf. He opened it to April 1, read for a moment, and then offered me a receipt, which he insisted that I sign, as he was going to take the journal with him. I signed the receipt, “Patrick Maroney eats shit,” and began cussing out the cops. At one point I shouted from my front porch, “You fucking Nazis! Arrest the murderers of JonBenet Ramsey and leave the rest of us alone!”
Lindsey was in tears and terrified by the policeman’s threat to kill our pets. Judith was horrified that her home had been violated by an illegal police raid. I was taking nitro glycerin to calm my angina and coming to the realization that something far more sinister than a police raid had occurred. I knew from my studies in law that the CBI agents Maroney and Brown had to provide a judge with “probable cause” of my 1997 journal’s existence and location to obtain a judge’s signature authorizing a search warrant. The only way that “probable cause” could have been developed was through my ex-wife. George Orwell’s 1984 had become a reality in my own home.
My former wife offered her assistance to the agents of the CBI in finding “probable cause.” My former wife believed that my 1997 journal would help them develop evidence against me and she knew that a father in prison wouldn’t be coming around to see his children. The affidavit Maroney provided for the search warrant revealed the following:
On October 29, 1999, Michele Austin called Agent Brown and said that she had proof that the “Diaries” were currently located in the residence where Thomas C. Miller lives, 1076 [sic] Lincoln Place, City of Boulder, County of Boulder, State of Colorado. When questioned about her proof, she said that the two children, Justin Miller, age 11, and Trey Miller, age 10, visit Thomas C. Miller on certain days for visitation. She told her two children that Thomas C. Miller had a book belonging to her and that he had not returned it to her. She asked that during their next visit to Thomas C. Miller’s house to take pictures of the bookcase so that she could see if Thomas C. Miller still had the book.
I picked up my boys for their weekend visit on October 22, 1999. My younger son, Trey, had turned 10 in September. He was moody from the time I picked him up until I returned him to his mother. My older son, Justin, would be twelve in January. Although he wasn’t sulking as was his brother, I knew something was not right with the both of them. On Saturday we went on a hike in the steep foothills of Chautauqua Park with their dogs. That usually helped them cheer up through the transition from their mother’s home to mine. On Sunday, we watched the Denver Bronco’s football game. My journal from that day notes: “Rough day with Trey. Poor little boy needed his father to love him, and I did as much as I could toward that for him … He’s really acting out.”Later, I would find out that sometime during the weekend visit, Trey had taken the photographs requested by his mother of my bookcases. Justin would have nothing to do with her plan, he told me, and then explained that his mother threatened to put him in “timeout forever” if he told me what Trey was up to.
Once the police were gone, Judith immediately tried to calm her frightened daughter, Lindsey. I called Lewis to tell him that the police had my journal. His first response was apologetic, concerned for the welfare of Judith, Lindsey, me and our pets. It is true that tabloid reporters have very little sympathy for the people they write about, but like cops, or doctors or assembly line workers, they are human. Lewis was genuinely concerned, given the nature of our friendship and the explosive anger I expressed at the violation of my home. He cautioned me not to work myself into a heart attack. Almost like a therapist, he asked me to slow down, to take a breath and to describe what had happened in detail. “Did they hurt anyone?” he asked. I told him of their threat to kill our dogs. “Did they hurt Strate?” After a few moments, he came around to the inquisitive intellect that put him so far ahead of the curve in covering the news. “What was in the journal?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“I keep a journal, Craig, but I hardly ever read it. I don’t remember what I wrote about April 1, 1997.”
Lewis reassured me that The Globe was not about to let Thomas’ office put us in prison. He told me to have a stiff drink, get a good night’s sleep and rest assured that the lawyers would be working on the problem of the journal by morning. In fact, the lawyers were at work on the problem that evening. I received return calls that night from Lozow and Leidner, as well as private investigator Barrett. It was a Friday night, an illegal search and we all knew that the CBI would both photocopy and read my journal before we could file the necessary paperwork on Monday morning to protest the illegal conduct.
My journals contained the most personal information imaginable. The police had my handwritten record of every sexual encounter, drunken moment or diatribe. I had written down my feelings about our criminal justice system and I had named judges, cops and prosecutors. I had recorded the moments of angina caused while trying to care for my clients or my children. The latter didn’t make for particularly interesting reading and certainly provided no juicy evidence of felonious conduct, but my private thoughts certainly told both police investigators and my prosecutor, Dennis Hall, where I was weak and what made me strong. My private diary also gave them the names of every person who could give them another piece of information about my life, my work, my family and my personality. Agent Brown called many of those people, from old girlfriends to drinking buddies at poker partners. There were no secrets left in my life, nor in the lives of my clients.
My lawyers found the conduct of the police and Hall particularly offensive. The urgency of the Friday night raid clearly intended access to my journal at the beginning of a weekend with knowledge that no court could protect my rights. Agent Maroney’s refusal to show me the warrant initially and his urgency to force the illegal search made sense. By Monday morning the whole of my 1997 journal had been copied and rested in the hands of the police and prosecutors.
My lawyers and I appeared at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Monday morning to request an emergency hearing for the return of my journal. The case law on the use of my children by police agents is clear – the search was illegal. The contents of my journal were the “fruit of the poisonous tree,” and none of it could be used as evidence against me. Of course, case law is just that – old cases decided by courts on appeal. It takes motions, hearings, erroneous rulings by judges and appeals to force open the argument of an illegal search.
During the following months, Hall and the CBI would continue to use my journal for mine and Lewis’ prosecutions. Throughout the 18 months between the time of the police raid on my home and the days of my trial, Hall would hold onto my journal and/or copies of it. He proposed every legal argument his lifetime career as a prosecutor could provide. I perceived his arguments as only deceptions to avoid the return of my property. Once a lawyer, I admired such craft and thought. Now a defendant, I howled at my lawyers.
Crimes Against Privacy
Hall had bolstered his case against Lewis thanks to the notations in my illegally seized journal. Despite a legal argument that the contents of my journal regarding Lewis were privileged and could not be used by the prosecution, Judge Christopher Munch read my diary, made his decision and turned it over to the prosecution. The issue of the illegal nature of the search and seizure would have to wait for my trial.
On December 20, 1999, Lewis had to return to Colorado from Florida to surrender himself to the CBI. He was to be humiliated as I had been, led out in handcuffs before the cameras and booked into the Jefferson County Jail. The surrender occurred at 8:30 in the morning and I brought my boys with me. My sons were with me for the Christmas holidays. Trey still could not conceive that his mother had lied to him about the purpose of the photographs she asked him to take of my book cases. Justin said he wanted to tell Craig he was sorry for what had happened.
Someone at the CBI again had tipped McKinley of Fox News that Lewis was to turn himself in and she was there to film the perp walk, as she had done for me. Other members of the press milled around in the parking lot. Pagliuca, the lawyer for Lewis, was there, and, of course, agents Brown and Maroney.
No Crime, Lots Of Punishment
Commercial bribery was a statute so unused and vague that career criminal defense attorneys defending Lewis and me had never heard of it. Lewis and I talked frequently by phone. I could hear the slurring of his speech once he was home from the office. We commiserated with each other over the sense of doom that often swept over us. Because Lewis, a national reporter, had finally been “caught,” arrested and jailed in the Ramsey case, coverage of both of our cases drew national attention. And, because The Globe’s lawyers would not give an inch, especially with their every invoice being paid, the battle raged in several Colorado courtrooms.
The lawyers for Lewis and me had filed motions concerning the illegal search of my home and with regard to the constitutionality of the commercial bribery statute. The Colorado law states that “any benefit” conferred upon a “source” constitutes a “bribe.” Did “any benefit” mean an offer of confidentiality, a cup of coffee, a vacation, a kiss or $30,000? Lozow filed a motion addressing grand jury abuse by Hall. Pagliuca, for Lewis, sent out subpoenas demanding access to Haddon’s law firm and his case files in their defense of John Ramsey, and the same to the attorneys for Patsy. My lawyers filed a motion to suppress the statement I had made to Burkhalter in 1997, and a motion to dismiss my indictment because the ransom note was in the public domain once the police handed it over to John and Patsy’s lawyers. And, when the bench in Jefferson County ruled against Lewis and me, our lawyers immediately appealed. At this time, The Globe, Lewis and I were all getting our money’s worth out of our lawyers.
What often confuses the layman about law is the manner in which legal decisions are tailored to specific issues, rather than to a general application of common sense. For instance, my journal contained various entries regarding secrets that my clients had given me, or decisions I had made about my legal strategies. My lawyers argued that my confidences fell under the umbrella of attorney/client privilege, or privileged attorney work product. Hall argued that the journal did not contain such matters. My private thoughts didn’t necessarily reveal my legal strategies. They were the thoughts of a sick and broken man. At the very least, he knew my indictment and conviction would discredit me as an expert as to who wrote the ransom note.
Private Parts Of A Public Journal
During a grueling hearing on December 2, 1999, Judge Munch, a career prosecutor before his appointment as a District Court Judge in Jefferson County, determined that he must read my journal to determine if any information should be censored from the prosecutor’s eyes. He ruled on giving himself permission to read my journal at the same time as he refused to hear arguments as to the illegality of the manner in which the journal was obtained. Trained in law, having practiced law, having filed motions on behalf of my clients regarding illegal search and seizure and having asserted my privileges of confidentiality through my lawyers, all I could do was to sit with my mouth closed. At several points, I nearly leapt from my chair to denounce what I viewed as the illegal and profligate conduct of the judge and the prosecution. To have done so would have only undermined my case and provided me with a cozy cell for contempt of court. I walked from the court house dissolving nitro glycerin under my tongue.
Everyone in the courtroom knew that the critical issue was the illegality of the search, but by framing a different question: “Is the information confidential?” Hall kept the critical issue of the illegal search out of the courtroom. He kept the journal, and now he had Lewis identified without my testimony. As I left the hearing, I recognized Maroney and Brown, as well as the Jefferson County DA’s Investigator, Burkhalter, as they trouped out of the courtroom.
“You fat Nazis!” I shouted. Reporters from news services from around the world swiveled their necks like hungry birds of prey to see my face boiling with rage. “Over there,” I said to the press. “Patrick Maroney,” I shouted, “You’re a fat Nazi! You’re all fat Nazis!”
Two of my lawyers, Leidner and Kornfeld, were standing nearby. They placed themselves around me and led me from the courthouse. They never told me to “shut up,” but everyone saw and heard me acting like a fool. They were right, of course. Outside, I felt better. Psychiatrists say that patients often come out of depressions through anger and, although I felt the angina, I didn’t feel nearly so depressed or in further need of nitro glycerin. I was glad that the media had been present, and that they had heard what I thought of the police and Hall. I believed all along that my case would have to go to a jury trial and that I would win. After all, how could I miss with a jury trial in which there was no credible evidence of a crime? I was innocent. How fortunate I wasn’t practicing law and didn’t have to deal with such a fool for a client.
Judge Munch had taped yellow sheets of paper over a few pages of my journal and permitted the cops and prosecutors to continue their possession of it. His order releasing the journal to Hall stated that my entries were rarely, and then only marginally, related to privileged information. None of my entries relating to Lewis, he ruled, was privileged. Meanwhile, my lawyers would be provided photocopies of my journal since the prosecutor and the CBI were legally mining it for evidence to build their cases. My feeling of having been sodomized by Judge Munch grew to a sense of having been gang raped by the criminal justice system.
Several lawyers, chief among them being Lewis’ Jeff Pagliuca, said to my face that I had been a “fool” to ever have kept a journal. I could only say to the derision of my lawyers, “Give me back my journal!” It was obtained illegally. To call me a “fool” for keeping a journal seemed to me akin to telling an attractive rape victim that, “You asked for it.” Pagliuca was right. I would never trust the Fourth Amendment protections of the Constitution with my most personal thoughts in a diary, ever again.
Hall developed an ingenious strategy that he hoped would alleviate his need for me as a witness in Lewis’ case and a way to keep my journal through the hair splitting legal process. He would claim, disingenuously, as it turns out, at a hearing the following day on December 3, 1999, that he did not intend to use my journal in the prosecution of my case. Rather, Hall wanted only to use the journal entries that identified Lewis as my client and that mentioned our trip on April Fool’s Day to the Vacca house in the Lewis case. Therefore, he claimed, the court need not rule on the legality of the search that brought the journal into his hands, as the information was not being used to prosecute me. Judge Munch would not rule on the issue of the illegal search. He limited his determination to the issue of attorney/client privilege.
After the hearing, I watched the courtroom clear. The judge had gone to his chambers, my lawyers gathered around, shaking their heads at Judge Munch’s decision that they argued was a clear violation of my privacy and the Fourth Amendment. As Hall’s heels clicked into the hallway, I heard only jackboots as he walked out of the courtroom. I raised my left arm in a mock Nazi salute once he was out the door. Barrett, who had been sitting in the gallery, saw the gesture and called to me, shaking his head. Quite suddenly, Hall whirled back into the courtroom. He stopped only inches from me and demanded, “Did you make a gesture to me, Mr Miller?”
“I’d like to make a few gestures toward you, Mr Hall,” I said.
“Gary,” he shouted, referring to my lead attorney, Lozow. He stepped around me to confront my lawyers. “You’d better get your client under control.”
By then, Barrett was standing next to me, shaking his head, ready to hold my arms to my side, or put his hand over my mouth, as Lozow barked to Hall and to me, “Just calm down, both of you!”
After Hall had left the courtroom again, Lozow took me to task for my childish behavior. He did it in the most eloquent manner he could have. “You have the advantage of a lawyer’s education and you’re not acting like one. I expect better from you, and I need your cooperation in order to defend you.” I blushed.
Leidner was tremendously disappointed in me for what I had done. Outside the courthouse, I tried to defend my behavior by reminding him of how my children had been used by the police. Leidner looked at me with a sadness deep as history. “Nobody took your children from your home and shipped them off to a concentration camp. Nobody murdered your family.”
As I returned to Boulder that evening, I opened the car windows for cold air. I often looked for a local herd of deer on the rugged hills at the foot of the Rocky Mountains between Golden and Boulder. I didn’t see the herd that night. I felt ashamed. I had become my own enemy. No matter how wrong, how corrupt, how full of error, deceit, even cruel our American legal system can be, there is a protocol in place for the protection of all citizens. I was long overdue for a return to the level of professionalism and respect I once subscribed to as a lawyer and as a citizen of a great, if imperfect, nation. I was trained in the American legal system and I had a responsibility to uphold its ideals if ever to address its flaws.
The “Son-Of-A-Bitch” Rule
Hearings came and went over the following months. In Jefferson County, it seemed the squad of lawyers for The Globe’s interests couldn’t win a hearing. Judge Jane Tidball, who was the judge assigned to my jury trial, would listen to the arguments of Lozow or Pagliuca with attentive blue eyes. She would often roll her eyes, like a silent movie actress, when the defense lawyers rested, then ask for Hall’s response. Attentive and caring again, she would regurgitate the differing arguments at remarkable length in making her ruling, defining the cogency of Hall’s thoughts, the irrelevancy of my attorney’s case law and then rule on behalf of the prosecution.
In other courts, appellate and Federal courtrooms, where Lewis’ lawyers worked, the results often came out better. Not only would the judges listen to the arguments, but temper their rulings to reflect logic and respect for the law they interpreted. One issue concerned the unconstitutional nature of Colorado’s commercial bribery statute, and an appeal from Jane Tidball’s ruling that the statute was constitutional went to the Colorado Supreme Court. That placed Lewis’ and my trials on what seemed eternal hold. The record in the case was clearly and carefully crafted by The Globe’s lawyers. Experts in the field of journalism, including columnist Chuck Greene of the Denver Post, Patricia Calhoun, editor of Westword and Peter Boyles, the radio talk show host, stated that the statute that made criminal “any benefit” conferred by a journalist upon a source for information was overbroad, and that all of them, in one way or another, had violated the statute in the normal course of news gathering. Hall had no experts to support his contention that the $30,000 offered by Lewis was different in nature from an offer of confidentiality, or a meal or a few cigarettes. The Supreme Court liked the argument of The Globe’s enough to decide that on its face, the statute did appear unconstitutional.
Yet, with my “Heil Hitler” salute to Hall, I had managed to do for Lewis what all of the lawyers now on The Globe’s payroll had been unable to do. The deputy district attorney now wanted me in jail as much as the DA wanted Lewis. The Globe was bankrolling our defense to protect its reporter and their right to information. The assiduous pursuit of Lewis and me in Jefferson County was the result of bought political pressure by John and Patsy to discredit my expert opinion. The guilt or innocence of John and Patsy never mattered to Thomas; this was politics, after all. The little girl’s death occurred in Boulder, a town not in their jurisdiction. The Globepublished innumerable articles linking the Ramseys to the crime. The media in general published any number of articles excoriating the Boulder Police Department. That offended prosecutors. That I was a court-qualified handwriting expert who had published my opinion that Patsy wrote the ransom note didn’t matter. That I had acted angrily and unprofessionally over the manner in which my private journal was taken from my home was what mattered.
In the field of criminal defense, when all of the power of the state, from cops to prosecutors to judges, focuses on the conviction of the accused for reasons other than those properly formulated in an indictment, the persecution is called the “Son-of-a-bitch Rule.” It has nothing to do with guilt or innocence, money or power, past convictions, character, law or justice. Once the system determines that the accused is a son-of-a-bitch, he is properly convicted and sentenced. On a rare occasion, a jury might acquit. It is an unwritten rule, of course, those who apply it deny its existence. But for those who have earned the title of son-of-a-bitch in the criminal justice system, there’s no other reality.
I received a letter from the Supreme Court Disciplinary Committee a few weeks after my “gesture” toward Hall. The letter was simply a cross-copy of the one the committee had mailed to the complainant, Hall. It stated that the Disciplinary Committee would look into the allegations Hall had made regarding my unprofessional conduct once my criminal charges had been decided. The committee could not take any action until then.
I could not believe that Hall had made such a miscalculation. A prosecutor must recuse himself from a criminal case in the event that the prosecutor is personally involved. He had filed a grievance against my license to practice law based upon my gesture toward him. Colorado’s Rules of Professional Conduct state:
- A lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the appropriate authority.
All during the pendency of my charges I had been wishing for a change of venue, where the charges against me would be tried in another county, any other county. Jefferson County is well known by criminal defense lawyers for its successful prosecution of cases before conservative, mostly white, upper class citizens. I worried some about the composition of the jury pool, but had to worry a lot about the angered prosecutor who was taking my case personally enough to file a grievance against my law license and who still wanted to take me to trial. Under the rules for prosecutors though, a prosecutor with a personal stake in the prosecution of a case may not proceed against the accused. It almost automatically results in a change of venue if a client has enough money to pursue the issue, and, money, I thought, was no object.
While my constant plea, “Give me back my journal!” remained unheeded by my lawyers as they split other legal hairs, a hearing still could be conducted upon my lawyers’ motion to disqualify the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office because of Hall’s grievance. On March 1, 2000, Judge George E. Lohr in Jefferson County denied the motion. He stated:
… Hall acted in good faith and believed that he had a duty to report the conduct [Miller’s]. His conclusion, though incorrect, was not clearly unreasonable and does not in itself cast doubt on his good faith. His report was not based on improper animus toward Miller nor was it made for the purpose of obtaining any improper advantage in this criminal proceeding.
After I read Judge Lohr’s decision, I called Barrett. He and Leidner had known Lohr for years. Both held him in high regard. They had been delighted to see him, rather than former prosecutors Christopher Munch or Frank Nieto, judges who had ruled in favor of the prosecution on earlier matters. I faxed the decision to Barrett, gave him time to read it, than called him and asked, “It’s the son-of-a-bitch rule, isn’t it?”
“Yep, buddy,” Wally said, “I’m afraid that’s just what it is.”
While in a state of limbo between the time I realized I was being subjected to the son-of-a-bitch rule and the beginning of my trial, I reflected on my behavior over the months, the foul language, insults to cops and my unforgivable demeaning of the Holocaust with a Heil Hitler salute to Hall. I contacted my lawyers and explained to them that I wanted to write a letter of apology to Hall. They considered it a very bad idea. I explained to them that although I had no respect for Hall and his tactics, I had less respect for myself and my reactions. I had not been a gentleman or a professional and was determined to apologize. They agreed, and on September 24, 2000, I sent that letter to Hall.
While frightened by my own circumstances, I acted irresponsibly and rudely toward you and your associates. My symbolic acts and speech were inappropriate. I acted this way in front of two attorneys who are representing me. Both admonished my behavior and advised me that I was wrong. My remarks reflected on the horror of the concentration camps in the Hitler era, and were totally inaccurate in relation to my circumstances.
I felt an emotional relief as great as any I have felt in my life. No matter what happened, a dismissal, an acquittal or a conviction, I had accepted my own responsibility and remorse and, in a very Catholic sense, confessed. In the horror of months of legal persecution, I had come to my own center of peace.
The Colorado Supreme Court finally ruled that neither Lewis nor I had been tried and convicted of the commercial bribery statute, and thus the issue was not “ripe” for the Court’s intervention to halt the prosecution. In the parlance of the layman, that meant that Jefferson County must now go forward with trials for Lewis and me and, if convicted, Lewis and I could then appeal the conviction based upon its questionable constitutional status.
Over the months of criminal jeopardy, Lewis and I had often talked on the telephone, but we avoided talking about our cases, concerned that the CBI might be tapping my telephone. To most, that kind of concern seems like paranoia. The charges were not for bank robbery, murder or kidnapping, but for white collar crime on the least serious of felonies, if it was a crime or a felony at all. This was also the “Ramsey” case, a twisted derivative of the Ramsey case, and a high priority in the politically charged arena of Dave Thomas’ District Attorney’s Office, as well as for the CBI. The county and state governments were spending huge amounts of their resources in prosecuting a case that moved again and again into the appeals courts as The Globe’s lawyers would not surrender an inch. Editor and Publisher, the insider’s magazine of the mass media, was carrying articles on the “threat” to the free press by Jefferson County’s pursuit of the commercial bribery statute.
Even though the Boulder County Grand Jury had been disbanded without even a report on the murder of JonBenet, the newspapers continued to carry stories of the lingering prosecutions that had arisen from the thwarted Ramsey investigation. Journalists continued to remind readers that John and Patsy remained “under an umbrella of suspicion,” and that the cops and prosecutors in two counties, Boulder and Jefferson, as well as the CBI, were looking like dolts. The political pressure was mounting on Thomas to find a way out of the money drain and public relations quagmire by prosecuting the “tabloids.”
Silk Stocking Betrayal
Dan Recht, one of The Globe’s primary lawyers in Colorado, had been deep within the legal quagmire, looking to fashion an escape for Lewis, himself and the editors of The Globe. While I had been identified as the lawyer for Lewis in the April Fool’s Day visit to the Vacca house, Recht had received into his trust account the $30,000 from The Globe for Lewis to make his offer to Vacca. That put Recht razor-close to the alleged “criminal” action of Lewis and to me as a “conspirator” in the so-called crime of commercial bribery. His bank records had been subpoenaed by the CBI and perused. He had given testimony to Hall’s grand jury, under a grant of immunity, regarding his receipt of the money and his capacity as counsel to The Globe. Because of the close proximity of Hall’s prosecutorial knife to Recht’s throat, The Globe was paying another lawyer, Scott Jurdem, thousands of dollars to represent Recht. Of the lawyers, all of whom had been shocked by the raid on my home and the taking of my journal, Recht had personally expressed the greatest sympathies, more so than even my own lawyers.
Over the years, Recht and one of my lawyers, Rick Kornfeld, had developed a friendship. They argued law together, went on mountain climbing experiences together and decided to practice law together. Unfortunately, when Kornfeld decided to jump ship and go to work with Recht, he abandoned my case. He had to. His new employer, Recht, created an ethical barrier to continued work on my case as The Globe’s interests were diverse from mine. The Globe had paid tens of thousands of dollars to Lozow’s law firm for work done by Kornfeld. Now, he would be barred from working on my case due to a “conflict of interest.” The work he had done on my case had to be redone. The fees that had been paid for work on my case had to be paid again. My journal, which Kornfeld had read, had to be read again, this time by Lozow. No one can fault a man from moving on to a new job, but my sense of betrayal was palpable.
By the fall of 2000, I had reconciled myself to the reality of a trial. I believed in the jury system and I knew that I had not committed a crime. And I believed that Lewis had not committed the crime of commercial bribery by pursuing a news story under the protection of the First Amendment’s Freedom of the Press. We had good lawyers, lots of them, and the financial resources of The Globe. If we lost at trial, I would be convicted of a felony and the license I had to practice law would be suspended for a long, long time, if I wasn’t disbarred. There would be fines and court costs, and possibly some time in jail, but I doubted that. I had a big mouth, but I didn’t have a police record. I really didn’t have much to lose. I wasn’t practicing law and I didn’t know if I ever would again. As an indicted felon I had lived with a social stigma. As a convicted felon, I’d get used to it.
If I lost at trial, the lawyers for John and Patsy would forever be able to attack my credibility as the handwriting expert who had fingered Patsy for writing the ransom note: “the ravings of a convicted felon.” On the other hand, if I won at trial, the most important statement of my life would be made: that I would not be a servant of corruption, nor surrender to it. My trial would embody the defense of truth. And, my truth is that Patsy Ramsey wrote the ransom note and helped to stage the kidnapping of JonBenet Ramsey as a tragedy gone berserk.
On November 9, 2000, I woke as eager to read the newspaper as everyone else in the nation following the drama of the presidential election. No winner had been declared in the disputed vote count between Al Gore and George W Bush. The local election was over though, and Thomas had been reelected as the District Attorney in Jefferson County. Once past the front section, I turned to the local news to find a photograph of Lewis and a story that sent me into an emotional tailspin. Lawyers for The Globe had negotiated a dismissal of the charges against him, both in the commercial bribery case and the more serious extortion matter. The Globe made an admission to “unethical” conduct in approaching Vacca with an offer of $30,000 for the ransom note; and to atone for its conduct, the tabloid would give $100,000 to the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism for the purposes of establishing an ethics program. Heaven knows how needy the University of Colorado was for the funds. The School of Journalism, which had produced Michael Tracey’s “documentary” paid for by John and Patsy, had lost accreditation by the North Central Association, and represented the lowest of academic standards.
Recht, the lawyer who had been the “bag man” holding the money for Lewis’ hoped for purchase of the ransom note, received some high level assistance in proposing the bribe to Thomas. Between the time of my work with The Globe and my trial, The Globe had been purchased and merged into American Media Corporation which also owned the tabloids The Star and the National Enquirer. With that merger, The Globeacquired the services of one of the most powerful law firms in the United States and the services of an equally powerful lawyer, David Kendal, counsel to President Bill Clinton. It was he who proposed the $10,000 bribe to Thomas. One need not look further than the law office of Hal Haddon to opine as to how such an unusual solution to the problems for Lewis and The Globe occurred.
My former silk stocking attorney, Kornfeld, knew a solution would be forthcoming for Craig Lewis and The Globe. After all, he now worked in the law firm that Bill Clinton’s lawyer used to set up the bribe. Kornfeld not only stuck me with the bill for the work he walked away from, but left me to learn about the bribe from the newspapers. Recht and Kendal approached Thomas and Hull a few days before Election Day. By now, I regarded Recht and Kornfeld as underhanded, dishonest and reprehensible in their character and conduct, feelings similarly engendered by Republicans for Bill Clinton, and, no doubt, by Democrats for George Bush. Politics are one thing though and law, supposedly, quite another. No law school offers a course in how to administer bribes in the course of criminal defense. Still, I understood Recht’s desire to settle the matter, not only for the sake of his client, The Globe, but to place a thick stack of hundred dollar bills between his neck and the knife in Hall’s hands. That Thomas and Hall would listen to the offer, and accept the bribe, speaks volumes of their own need for a course in ethics.
Thomas stated publicly that his office had reached a satisfactory resolution in the prosecution of Lewis. The Globe had admitted its unethical conduct. The University of Colorado would be able to educate future journalists against future investigative misconduct. (With Michael Tracy’s involvement in the John Karr arrest, it appears the funds didn’t make it into the right pockets.) The bribe also saved the citizens of Jefferson County a fortune by eliminating the entrenched legal battles and Hall the ongoing headache of appeal after appeal.
An e-mail on the day of the settlement was published on the internet from a lawyer whose office is in Jefferson County. The lawyer admonished practitioners in Jefferson County not to enter pleas of guilty or not guilty to the judge, but to request the option to donate to the University of Colorado instead of enduring the vagaries of prosecution. Most importantly for the pursuit of the son-of-a-bitch rule, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office still had a real prize to prosecute in the “Ramsey” case, a lawyer – me.
I didn’t call Lewis. My “friend,” against whom I had refused to testify, who would have been successfully prosecuted without my protection of his confidence, had betrayed me. He knew he must betray me, although he would not testify against me, either. I wish he would have called to warn me. He couldn’t. Tabloid men tell no tales. Lozow, whose law firm had earned in excess of $100,000 thus far in my defense, told me that lawyers for The Globe waited for about two nanoseconds before contacting him by e-mail, fax and telephone to state that American Media Corporation would no longer pay my legal fees. He said that he wouldn’t drop my representation, but I learned that I was now on my own. I would be responsible for paying the freight. At that moment, my bill at Isaacson/Rosenbaum was only about $4,000. He asked me how long before I could pay the bill. I told him 10 days.
“All right,” Lozow said, “I want $4,000 on the wood in ten days or I’m off the case.”
I had a few thousand dollars left in my retirement account that hadn’t been eaten up by my convalescence, my divorce and unemployment. I drew out the money, gave it to my lawyers, and some to Barrett, and began the agonizing wait for my trial which was postponed from January until June. At long last, I had come full circle in American law, from criminal defense lawyer, to a defendant with means, to a common son-of-a-bitch with no means and little hope. I was now fully absorbed in the sense of helplessness that the poor face in a criminal justice system fueled by money and blind to the corruption that comes from power.