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SPENCE’S ‘TRUE STORY’ WASN’T To the editor: The fairly perceptive review [" Gerry Spence Keeps Up With the Joneses," Sept. 1, 2003, Page 26] of celebrity lawyer Spence’s latest tale, The Smoking Gun,made the understandable mistake of assuming that the book’s subtitle, “A True Story,” was accurate. The reviewer called Spence’s style “sanctimonious,” and that would be an understatement. As the prosecutor who beat Spence in the first of the two trials recounted in the book, I was astounded with how many of the people, events, and places Spence described were unrecognizable. The reviewer correctly represented the book as calling the victim “a prominent, wealthy member of the community,” who lived “in an area that seemed to have its own form of feudal caste system.” If this had not been a murder case, this description would be laughable, but there is little to laugh about when a lawyer like Spence can twist the system to such a degree that no one was ultimately held accountable for the shooting. The victim, Wilfred Gerttula, was a man who drove an old pickup truck and lived in a modest home. Lincoln County, Ore., the site of the crime and where I was a prosecutor from 1985 to 1989, is and was a vibrant and progressive county in an enlightened state � hardly a medieval feudal society. This is Spence’s 13th book, and like his others, he tells of overcoming adversity to vanquish venal and corrupt law enforcement. It might make a good movie, but much of it is a legend in the mind of the author and his fans. The title of the book describes a particularly incriminating photograph of one of Spence’s clients, gun to her shoulder, firing at the victim’s car just before he was killed. The conceit is that any lawyer can defend the factually innocent, but it takes someone like Spence to overcome such compelling evidence. Spence tells much early in the book when he says, “[I]f I learned one thing it was that trials do not seek the truth, nor are they always intended to deliver justice.” Odd, I’ve always labored under the impression that truth and justice were exactly what we try to achieve as lawyers. Joshua Marquis District Attorney, Clatsop County Astoria, Ore.

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