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"How Watergate Revolutionized Legal Ethics"

Presenters: John Dean and James David Robenalt

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Lockhart Hall (Room 25)


This CLE focuses on the ethics of representation of an organization and the "report up" and "report out" requirements. The seminar also explores the ethical duties of an attorney who becomes entangled in client wrongdoing, whether deliberately or unwittingly. The course covers the ethics of an attorney representing an organization using John Dean's example as the case study—focusing on Model Rules 1.13 (Organization as Client) and Rule 1.6 (The Duty of Confidentiality).

The seminar is open to the public. Cost is $150 with only checks accepted at the door. Event #172764 has been approved for 3 CLE ethics credits. This event is co-sponsored by the Law School and Dorsey & Whitney LLP. For more information, contact Jenna Hubbard at 612-626-5983 or jlhubbar@umn.edu.

John Dean

Before becoming Counsel to the President of the United States in July 1970 at age thirty-one, John Dean was Chief Minority Counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, the Associate Director of a law reform commission, and Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He served as Richard Nixon’s White House lawyer for a thousand days.

He did his undergraduate studies at Colgate University and the College of Wooster, with majors in English Literature and Political Science. He received a graduate fellowship from American University to study government and the presidency, before entering Georgetown University Law Center, where he received his JD in 1965.

John recounted his days in the Nixon White House and Watergate in two books, Blind Ambition (1976) and Lost Honor (1982). He lives in Beverly Hills, California with his wife Maureen, and now devotes full time to writing and lecturing, having retired from his career as a private investment banker. He is working on his 12th book (10th since retiring), which returns to Watergate and is based on the new material now available. It was this material that prompted John and Jim to develop this CLE.



James David Robenalt

Jim is a partner and former Chair of the Business Litigation group at Thompson Hine LLP’s Cleveland office. Jim has won big verdicts for client, including Avery Dennison ($81 million jury verdict on international espionage case) and Solvay Pharmaceuticals ($68 million arbitration award on drug co-promotion agreement). Jim is also the author of two non-fiction books dealing with the American presidency: Linking Rings, William W. Durbin and the Magic and Mystery of America (Kent State University Press 2004) and The Harding Affair, Love and Espionage During the Great War (Palgrave 2009). He is a recognized leader in judicial reform in Ohio.

Jim teaches and instructs on the legal ethics and the representation of an organization under new Model Rules 1.13 and 1.6. Using John Dean as fact witness and Watergate as a case study, Jim and Mr. Dean have developed an interactive, fast-paced program that explores the duties of an attorney representing an organization when wrongdoing is uncovered. Rule 1.13 defines “organization” broadly, including corporations, partnerships, unions, governmental entities and the like.

Launched in Chicago in June 2011, the seminar has received glowing reviews both for its engaging presentation and its relevance to the most current rules of legal ethics. “Best CLE I have ever attended,” is the most common reaction.


9:00 a.m.
"The Nixon Tapes"

Follow the thread—from John Dean's suspicion, first revealed in his Senate Watergate Committee testimony that some of his meetings with the President were taped—to the Senate investigators' discovery of the taping system in their interviews with White House aide, Alexander Butterfield. In video presentations, Butterfield tells the story of the secret presidential taping system, and Scott Armstrong, co-author with Bob Woodward of The Brethren and research assistant on The Final Days, recounts his interview with Butterfield when he first learns of the taping system. Hear pertinent excerpts from the Oval Office tapes.

Dean and Robenalt will discuss Nixon's seemingly perplexing failure to destroy the tapes and review a lawyer’s obligation to preserve evidence. Stephen Gillers, Guns, Fruits, Drugs and Documents: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Responsibility for Real Evidence, 63 Stanford L. Rev. 813 (Apr. 2011).

9:30 a.m.
"Review of Watergate's Initial Days"

This segment will take the story from the first week following the break-in (June 1972) through the cover-up, Nixon's re-election, the first Watergate criminal trial of the burglars, Liddy and Hunt, and finally to the March 1973 events that propelled Dean to his talk with Richard Nixon on March 21, 1973—the "cancer on the presidency" warning. Here, the discussion will focus on both the "reporting up" requirements of Rule 1.13 and the “re¬porting out” provisions that permit a lawyer to report wrongdoing of his or her client under limited but significant circumstances.

10:45 a.m.
"Breaking Down the 'Cancer On The Presidency' Tape"

Hear crucial segments of the actual 45-minute Oval Office tape in which Dean discloses to the President the convicted burglar’s increasing extortion demands in advance of their sentencing before Judge Sirica and his concerns that White House employees might perjure themselves in upcoming hearings before the newly-formed Ervin Committee, with Dean’s additional in-person commentary on the events. Stunned by Nixon's reaction to Dean’s suggestion of the potential million-dollar magnitude of hush-money demand—"We could get that"—Dean soon realizes he needs to seek independent, experienced criminal legal advice.

11:30 a.m.
"The Decision To Break Ranks: Reporting Out"

Dean and Robenalt next turn to the question of when a lawyer representing an organization can and must report ongoing wrongdoing by the organizational client. Current Rules 1.6 and 1.13 are applied to the Watergate facts. Dean discusses his first tentative meetings with prosecutors and his meetings with the Senate investigators.

In addition, we review a criminal defense lawyer's strategic and tactical decisions in the initial stages of an investigation, including being the first to proffer a witness in a criminal investigation.

The seminar concludes with the playing of Dean's testimony before the Senate, the legal battle over the Nixon Tapes, leading to the Supreme Court's landmark decision in the summer of 1974 in United States v. Nixon, 418 U. S. 683 (1974), and President Nixon's resignation.