Jones Says She Will Appeal
Her husband says simple apology would end the lawsuit
DALLAS (AllPolitics, April 16) -- Paula Jones, choking back tears, said Thursday "despite the personal strain on my family," she will ask a federal appeals court to reverse the dismissal of her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton.
Breaking her silence after Judge Susan Webber Wright's April 1 decision, Jones told a packed news conference, "I was shocked." Jones' face contorted and for several seconds she was unable to go on. Her husband stood and put his hand on her shoulder and she began again.
"Shocked, because I believe what Mr. Clinton did to me was wrong, and the law protects women who are subjected to that kind of abuse of power," she said.
"I believe the grounds for a possible appeal are very strong, and I have faith in my attorneys' advice," Jones continued. And while she considered the stress on her family, "in the end, I have not come this far to see the law let men who have done such things dodge their responsibility," Jones said. "I want justice and my day in court."
Mrs. Jones' husband, Stephen, told The Washington Times Clinton could end the entire matter with only a few words and no monetary damages. "Zero dollars to us and the words, 'I was there. I was wrong. I'm sorry,'" he said.
Jones' lawyer Donovan Campbell said he believed that the appeal would take from six months to a year. "There is no one-free-flash rule recognized in the law," Campbell said. "Let a jury decide who is truly responsible."
Jones' appeal of Wright's decision will go to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in St. Louis, which handles federal appeals from Arkansas.
Wright dismissed the suit, saying that even if Jones' allegations were true, Clinton's conduct would not meet the legal standards necessary to constitute sexual harassment.
Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, alleges that Clinton exposed himself and requested that she perform oral sex during an encounter in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991. Clinton was governor of Arkansas at the time.
Clinton has said he doesn't recall meeting Jones and has denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement, the president's attorney Bob Bennett, said: "Judge Wright's decision was correct on both the law and the facts. Her thorough and thoughtful opinion was issued after a full review of all the evidence developed in extensive and far-reaching discovery.
"Therefore, we are confident that the appellate court will not permit Paula Jones and her supporters to pursue this case," Bennett said.
Campbell said Jones would still be open to a proposed settlement, but there was "nothing on the table."
John Whitehead, head of the Rutherford Institute, said the institute would continue to pay Jones' legal bills. He said so far that the conservative group had spent over $300,000 on "legal expenses," which did not include attorneys' fees.
Jones made her final decision to appeal Wednesday night after meeting with her lawyers and others representatives. The two sides met again Thursday morning to work out final details of an agreement outlining the conditions under which they will proceed during the appeal.
There has been friction between lawyers from the Dallas law firm that has been representing Jones, the Rutherford Institute, and Susan Carpenter McMillan, who has acted as Jones' spokeswoman and adviser.
The current lawyers have been unhappy with the public and frequent statements McMillan has made on Jones' behalf.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, McMillan's reduced role in the future proceedings was clearly delineated. "Susan Carpenter McMillan is, and remains, Mrs. Jones' friend. Except for a brief period of less than 30 days last fall, however, Ms. Carpenter McMillan has never been Mrs. Jones' legal agent or spokesperson, and that relationship will not change."
And in another signficant change that Jones' lawyers demanded their client agree to, it was announced that "to better coordinate questions and responses with the legal effort, all signficant media inquiries to Mrs. Jones, Ms. Carpenter McMillan or the Rutherford Institute will be cleared through the Rader, Campbell, Fischer and Pike Law Offices."
The latest guidelines seem to be in place, as McMillan has already canceled scheduled appearances on two CNN programs.