Judge In Jones' Case Known for Sticking to the Law
By Terry Frieden/CNN
Judge Susan Webber Wright
LITTLE ROCK (AllPolitics, April 1) -- Judge Susan Webber Wright, the moderate Republican who gave a Democratic president a stunning legal victory Wednesday by throwing out the Paula Jones lawsuit, is widely regarded as a jurist who sticks closely to the law when making her decisions.
Attorneys who have practiced in the courtroom of the 49-year-old federal district court judge say she is known for letting the law, not politics, guide her decision-making.
"I think she does a very thorough job with the pleadings and the motions that are filed in cases," says Little Rock lawyer Sam Perroni. "She takes a hard look at them to see if they have any legal merit."
A similar view is offered by those in academia.
"Fundamentally, Susan Wright follows the law and pays attention to the facts," says Little Rock law professor John DePippa. "If you did that in this case from the beginning to the end, you saw there were few facts of law to favor Paula Jones and many that favored the president. And that's indicated by the ruling she made today."
Got an A from Clinton in law school
When Wright was a student at the University of Arkansas law school, she took a class from a law professor named William Jefferson Clinton. On one occasion, he lost the law exams and offered the students B pluses.
Wright said no, appealed and ended up with an A.
Any notion that Wright might favor Clinton for giving her the A was dispelled in 1974 when he ran for Congress. Wright supported the Republican incumbent.
Years later, she supported George Bush's candidacy for president, and it was Bush who later appointed her to the federal bench.
Wright has presided over a Little Rock school desegregation case, but it was not until a Whitewater-related trial in 1996 that she emerged into the national spotlight.
The Jones case was not a happy one for the judge. She grew angry with the news media and with the blatant political agendas of the lawyers who constantly disclosed secret proceedings.