Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Preservation of Freedom Earned, Re-Earned Daily

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Preservation of Freedom Earned, Re-Earned Daily

Article excerpt

If you expect quick, cheap answers to difficult and complicated problems, you probably don't understand the American legal system.

That was one message delivered Tuesday by Oklahoma City attorney Lawrence E. Walsh, independent counsel for the Iran-Contra affair, and featured speaker for the Oklahoma County Bar Association's annual Law Day luncheon.

"Freedom must be earned, and re-earned, every day," Walsh told a Civic Center Music Hall audience of approximately 250 bar members and guests. "It can be expensive, it is sometimes slow, and it is often uncertain, but it means preservation of a system which is necessary."

Walsh said the Iran-Contra trials of Oliver North and John Poindexter helped to redefine where the lines are drawn in America's system of checks and balances.

"Trying to prove the truth in the field of intelligence asks us how far the legal field can be stretched," Walsh said. "Executive privilege goes only so far. Two courts and two juries have held that false statements are not acceptable. They drew the line there."

Walsh said the Iran-Contra case is so full of details and technicalities and unique circumstances, it is extremely difficult to prove what laws may have been broken, and by whom.

"The rule of law is tested by nitty-gritty problems," Walsh said. "And the broad principles are preserved and established."

Walsh was introduced by Andy Coats, a colleague at the Oklahoma City law firm Crowe & Dunlevy. Coats, a former mayor of Oklahoma City, said Walsh has compiled a record in his legal career which is "world class."

Walsh, 78, a native Canadian who earned his law degree from Columbia University, started practicing law in New York, where he advanced to the position of counsel to Gov. Thomas Dewey in the 1940s. He was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower as a federal trial judge in 1954, and three years later left what could have been a lifetime job to become the No. 2 man in the Justice Department as deputy to Attorney General William Rogers. …

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