Over the years I have had the privilege of working for many extraordinary people.
Some are redefining the way we do business. Others have taken on the United States government, multinational corporations, insurance companies, and other governmental and commercial entities in their quest for justice.
Most legal cases are primarily important only to the people involved. The effectiveness of a legal system should be judged by how well it handles everyday issues, as well as those that find a greater audience in newspapers and on television. I have been privileged to be involved with both kinds of cases.
A few which have received extensive public attention are:
|Clark v. United States. A courageous woman named Mary Clark demanded that the United States Air Force accept responsibility for contaminating her ground water. She fought for several years, and ultimately prevailed against a team of federal Justice Department lawyers, their hired experts, and unsympathetic neighbors. Her quest was the subject of a Reader's Digest article and numerous local television and newspaper stories. In a decision which is still one of the leading cases of its kind in the nation, she was able to not only obtain financial compensation, but bring a new water system to an entire neighborhood. I, along with my colleague Ann Eschenbach, were privileged to represent Mary.|
|Mollnow v. United States. In another case, Carl Mollnow challenged the safety of United States Air Force flight paths and safety procedures. When, the Air Force ignored his warnings and a number of airmen lost their lives, the Air Force attempted to silence him by destroying his career. His courageous challenge was the subject of a lead story on "60 Minutes." Unfortunately, after appeals, the government succeeded in denying him his day in court by citing an old doctrine which shielded the Air Force from judicial review of anything "incident to military service." Nevertheless, his sacrifice undoubtedly saved lives.|
|Pacific Northwest Women's Coalition vs. Tacoma. A coalition of women's organizations wanted to march in the city of Tacoma to commemorate women's suffrage. The city denied their request for a permit. I was asked to represent the coalition on behalf of the ACLU. We succeeded in having Tacoma's restrictive parade ordinance declared unconstitutional. The government had invoked a law nearly identical to the one used against the Nazis in Skokie, Illinois. At that time the ACLU was loudly criticized for challenging the government's position. I suspect most people would disagree with the application of this law in one instance, but support it in the other. These two cases reaffirm the principle that freedom is not discretionary, and that the right of free speech is not dependent upon the speaker or the message.|
|Reed v. Asarco. Two courageous people took on one of the most powerful corporations in the U.S. They sought to hold Asarco responsible for arsenic contamination produced by its Tacoma smelter. In doing so, they broke new ground in both law and science. Unfortunately, their view of the scientific facts was ahead of its time. A few years later, government investigations proved to be true what Asarco's hired experts had testified was impossible. Their efforts laid the groundwork for cases to follow.|
In other cases, my clients have challenged governments' attempts to restrict their activities and use of their property, battled insurance companies in their search for justice, and brought before our legal system a wide variety of personal and business issues. I feel honored to be able to participate in the American legal system on their behalf. With all its imperfections, it is the best in the world. Yet, it must be protected against those who attack it on behalf of special interests or would sacrifice liberty for expediency.