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Justice on Tour If the Dallas County Democrats, fresh off their election year courthouse romp, think that conservatism is dead in their county, they had best think again. On Oct. 23, 1,560 people gathered in a large ballroom at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in downtown Dallas to listen to a lunchtime chat by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who is on tour promoting his recently released memoir titled “My Grandfather’s Son.” The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank that believes in limited government, free enterprise, traditional values and a strong national defense, and the Federalist Society, a conservative legal network that believes in the principle of judicial restraint, sponsored the event, which according to the Heritage Foundation was the largest event it has staged outside of Washington, D.C., in its 34-year history. Among the assembled were Texas Supreme Court Justices Nathan Hecht and Dale Wainwright, former White House Counsel and former U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, who now is a partner in Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, and 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Priscilla Owen. Thomas and former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont took the stage and seated themselves in high back chairs for what was designed to be an informal interview session � that is, with du Pont asking the questions (something Thomas is loathe to do from the bench) and Thomas answering the questions (something Thomas did quite comfortably and candidly). Thomas dealt with some preliminary questions about how cert petitions are granted. There was nothing conspiratorial about it, he said, and convincing another justice to actually change his or her mind regarding a legal issue was “almost a Smithsonian moment.” Du Pont then took Thomas through various portions of his book, giving Thomas a chance to re-tell the challenges he has overcome as he raised himself out of poverty to become a Supreme Court justice. Thomas said he felt that the “greatest person” he had ever known was his grandfather who at middle age, had taken on the responsibility of raising him. He listed Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, William Churchill and Abraham Lincoln as other individuals he admires. He said he wrote his book to “set the record straight” about his life, although Anita Hill, his nemesis at his confirmation hearings 16 years ago, maintains that the portion of the book dealing with her role in the hearings does nothing of the sort. Hill is now a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Thomas spoke against the judicial nomination process, which he said has been hijacked by interest groups more concerned with judicial outcome than judicial neutrality. Yet despite his feelings about how politicized the process has become, he remained decidedly charming, humorous and eloquent throughout the interview. The crowd was his from the get-go, giving him three standing ovations. Even listeners who don’t agree with his judicial philosophy may have been impressed by Thomas’ compelling life story, which was available in hardback at the ballroom entrance for the list price of $26.95. It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over Criminal-defense attorneys Jack B. Zimmermann and Kyle R. Sampson, both ex-Marine lawyers and partners in Houston’s Zimmermann, Lavine, Zimmermann & Sampson, have plenty of savvy with the military justice system. They know that an investigating officer’s recommendation of dismissal in an Article 32 investigation hearing is no guarantee that the “convening authority” � who has ultimate say over whether the case goes to a court martial � will follow that recommendation. Yet that savvy couldn’t stem the disappointment Zimmermann and Sampson felt when they learned on Oct. 19 that the convening authority, Lt. Gen. James T. Mattis, had overruled the Aug. 23 recommendation of investigating officer Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware and referred to a court martial criminal charges against their client, Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum. The government had charged Tatum for his involvement in the alleged murder of 24 Iraqi civilians in an incident that occurred on Nov. 19, 2005, in Haditha, Iraq. Zimmermann led a four-man defense team that represented Tatum against allegations that Tatum was responsible for the “unpremeditated murder” of two civilians � both Iraqi children � the negligent homicide of four other Iraqi civilians, and the assault of one other. Mattis dismissed the charges of premeditated murder and negligent homicide. Instead, he referred to a general court-martial two charges of involuntary manslaughter, one charge of reckless endangerment and one charge of aggravated assault. Tatum faces his maximum prison exposure on the involuntary manslaughter charges, which each carry a punishment of up to 10 years of confinement. In an e-mail, Zimmermann and Sampson, who spent 10 days in July at Camp Pendleton in California defending the Article 32, say that Tatum “did not commit any crime. . . . We will vigorously challenge the government’s case, and nothing will be left undone in defense of this fine young Marine.” Making a similar contention that they did in the Article 32, Zimmermann and Sampson write that the referral of charges “imperils every young Marine and soldier who faces split second decisions in combat.” The Marine Corps press release maintains that Mattis made his decision “after consideration of information developed from investigations by Marine, Army and Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigators, as well as evidence produced during an Article 32 investigation hearing.” The press release adds that the Marine Corps “is committed to a fair proceeding,” which Zimmermann and Sampson say they still believe. “We remain convinced that the military justice system eventually will reach the right result.” No date has yet been set for the court-martial proceeding.

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