Watergate Victory: Mardian's Appeal

Overview

The appeal of the conviction of Robert Mardian in the Watergate conspiracy trial before Judge John Sirica is the topic of this intriguing book. Written by a member of the defense team that prepared Mardian's appeal, Watergate Victory provides a unique defense perspective on the Watergate case while also discussing legal issues that were central to the Watergate case but which have largely been ignored. Issues that are analyzed include the admissibility of the White House tapes at the trial, the ethical obligation...

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Overview

The appeal of the conviction of Robert Mardian in the Watergate conspiracy trial before Judge John Sirica is the topic of this intriguing book. Written by a member of the defense team that prepared Mardian's appeal, Watergate Victory provides a unique defense perspective on the Watergate case while also discussing legal issues that were central to the Watergate case but which have largely been ignored. Issues that are analyzed include the admissibility of the White House tapes at the trial, the ethical obligation of the attorneys for the Committee to Re-elect the President to keep confidential what they had learned from Gordon Liddy, and issues involving multiple conspiracies, variance and severance. Contents: Two Paths to D.C.; A Man's Life is at Stake; The Only Charge Conspiracy; Beverly Hills to Burning Tree; A Slight PR Problem; Confession, Confidentiality and Commitments; Have a Fire; The CIA Connection; Hush Money; Read the Lead Sheets; Surrogates and Security; Conflict between CRP Counsel; Legal Issues in a Political Case; White House Tape Memos; Spokes, Chains and Mulitiple Conspiracies; Variance Sham or Good Faith; Spillover, Sickness and Severance; Uniquely Among the Defendants; Vague and Sprawling; Highly Prejudicial and Untrustworthy; Erroneous and Self Serving; Last But Most Important; Free Mardian; No Surprises; Retreat to Harmless Error; Fallacious Premises and Adequate Instructions; No Surprises II; Responding to the Government; More Memos and the Joint Appendix; The Reply Belief; Oral Argument; The Opinion; The Press and Richard Nixon; A Ruff Decision.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephens Gillers
Books by trial lawyers are common but rarely do we get the kind of close analysis of a criminal appeal that Arnold Rochvarg offers in Watergate Victory: Mardian's Appeal. Accessible even to the noexpert reader, Rochvarg guides us through complex legal concepts as the appeal moved from conviction, to legal strategy, to reversal.
Hamilton P. Fox
Mr Rochvarg makes a convincing case for the proposition that regardless of whether he was guilty in fact, Mardian did not deserve to be convicted based upon the evidence that the government was able to mount against him...Second, the book serves as an object lesson of the pain and effort that is necessary to achieve excellent lawyering. Too many believe that all lawyers do is consult the case books. But excellent results are achieved only by the careful marshalling of the facts and an intelligent and effective strategy that chooses which arguments to press and which to ignore. Lawyering, when done correctly, can make a huge difference, and Rochvarg's book is a shining example of that lesson.
Graham Allison
An insider's view that persuasively challenges conventional wisdom on the Watergate trial.
Charles J. Ogletree
... a must read for the generation that only views Watergate as a phrase that only partially describes a true constitutional crisis.
Robert L. Dudley
A search of the Library of Congress under the subject heading Watergate yields 232 publications. Given that, do we really need another book on Watergate? Obviously Arnold Rochvarg believes we do, for he has written a slender but detailed book about Robert Mardian's appeal of his Watergate conspiracy conviction. More than twenty years after the trial, Mardian, a minor figure in the Watergate affair, is best remembered, if remembered at all, as a codefendant of the notorious trio of John Mitchell, John Ehrlichman and H.R. "Bob" Haldeman. Written in the first person, the book is simultaneously the story of an appeal and the memoir of a young law school student. Rochvarg, a former law clerk for the firm that represented Mardian, recounts, in a sparse style, his personal experiences in preparing the appeal. Thus much of the book is devoted to illustrating the author's professional growth from a naive student enamored with the law to a seasoned skeptic. Typical of this growth is the author's realization, after finding what he considered errors in Judge Sirica's handling of the Watergate trial, that criminal convictions may not always be fair. Understanding that the Watergate trial may not have been flawlessly conducted, Rochvarg muses, "If it turned out that the Watergate trial was unfair, I thought about how unfair the typical criminal trial must be for a defendant." Aside from the personal story, the author tells us that the book has two purposes. The first is to demonstrate that Robert Mardian was "unfairly convicted." As a secondary objective Rochvarg claims that, "The book also explains much about the appellate litigation process, an aspect of our legal system which tends to be less understood than the more familiar trial process." On this last point, few readers will learn much new about the appellate process. There is an abundance of detail here about this particular appeal and readers certainly get a sense of the endless hours spent combing documents and rechecking facts. If one needs an antidote to the glamorized version of legal practice portrayed by legal thrillers, this book will provide it. The author also provides thorough discussions of the issues of agency and the law regarding multiple conspiracies. Indeed the coverage of differences between chain and spoke conspiracies is handled very well. There is, however, little here about the appellate process that is generalizable or new. The real strength of this book is its zealous defense of Robert Mardian. In its thirty-five brief chapters, the book meticulously walks the reader through each aspect of Mardian's case. Brick-by-brick, the author shows how the appeal was built. Each overt act associated with the conspiracy of which Mardian was convicted is laid out and the pertinent facts and law are examined. The testimony of the various witnesses is scrutinized and contradictions are exploited to prove Mardian's case. Particularly interesting is the lengthy discussion of the infamous Watergate tapes. Although Mardian never appeared on any of the tapes admitted at trial, his name did arise five times. Rochvarg argues, rather convincingly, that the introduction of these tapes severely prejudiced Mardian's case. The problem, as Rochvarg sees it is that, "the mere mention of Mardian's name by Nixon and by Ehrlichman in the context of their conspiratorial conversations was very damaging to Mardian." The issue is all the more acute because all of the taped references to Mardian constituted hearsay and even double hearsay--as, for instance, when Ehrlichman reported to Nixon a statement attributed to Mardian by John Dean. Did Judge Sirica err in admitting the tapes or were they covered by recognized exceptions to the ban on hearsay evidence? Rochvarg emphatically declares Judge Sirica wrong. Unfortunately we will never know since the Court of Appeals did not squarely answer the Sixth Amendment questions raised by the tapes. A ruling on the admissability of the tapes was avoided because the Court of Appeals overturned Mardian's conviction on other grounds. In an almost anticlimactic decision the court ruled that Mardian's trial should have been severed from the other defendants. Even here, however, the court took a very narrow view of the issue. Judge Skelley Wright's opinion for the court upheld the initial denial of the pretrial motion for severance, but ruled that Judge Sirica should have granted severance when, two weeks into the trial, Mardian's lead attorney became ill and was forced to withdraw. Perhaps because the ruling was so narrow, Rochvarg works diligently to prove that Mardian was not just unfairly tried but innocent. Indeed in the book's final chapter Rochvarg asserts, "As to whether Mardian was guilty, if I were on the jury, I would have voted not guilty." Clearly, not all readers will share the author's belief in Mardian's innocence, but the book does raise serious doubts that cannot be easily ignored. Rochvarg has defended a former client with bravado and skill. Mardian should be pleased. In the final analysis, this is a slim book about a narrow topic. It is unlikely to be of great interest to the general reader. Watergate buffs and scholars interested in the Watergate trials, however, will find the book worthwhile. When, as seems inevitable, the revisionist histories of Watergate are written, Rochvarg's book will provide a useful resource.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819199164
  • Publisher: University Press of America
  • Publication date: 5/23/1995
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.72 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Arnold Rochvarg is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

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