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Jones v., ClintonJones v. Clinton

INTRODUCTION
DOCUMENTS
CAST OF CHARACTERS
LEGAL ISSUES
HEADLINES

The Legal Issues

Many pundits originally scoffed at Jones' chances in court and many are equally skeptical about her chances of overturning the case's dismissal with her appeal.

But in November 1996, journalist Stuart Taylor changed some minds with an article in the American Lawyer magazine contending that "Jones' evidence is highly persuasive." The principal reason: Jones told one friend, Pamela Blackard, about her encounter with Clinton within 10 minutes of returning to her desk in the Excelsior lobby, and another, Debra Ballentine, about an hour and a half later. Both have said that Jones appeared very upset and told them almost exactly the story she was later to make public, in all its repellent detail.

There were weaknesses in Jones' case, too. Danny Ferguson, the trooper who took her to the room where she allegedly met Clinton, has said she did not appear at all upset afterward. To the contrary, he says, she told him she would be willing to be Clinton's regular girlfriend. (Jones says he is lying.)

On the central matter of harassment, Jones contends Clinton made some remarks about knowing her boss before trying to grope her and at the end of the encounter told her, "You are smart. Let's keep this between ourselves."

Taylor has written that the Supreme Court's litmus test for sexual harassment is when sex has been demanded as a quid pro quo, i.e. "give me sex or you won't get a promotion," or when the person making the complaint has been subject to a hostile environment that jeopardized their ability to function competently.

To many, Jones case appeared dubious on the first condition. Not only wasn't she fired, but she received raises after the alleged incident (though she claims they were substandard).

The question of damages

In their final filings in mid-March, the lawyers battled over whether the case should go to trial as scheduled May 27.

Clinton's attorney, Bob Bennett, argued -- successfully, it turned out -- Jones had not established any legal claim worthy of trial or offered evidence of either sexual harassment or employment discrimination.

But Jones' lawyer, Donovan Campbell, called the evidence in the case "very graphic and very important" and said they could show a pattern of prior conduct on Clinton's part.

"You can show a pattern and practice of prior conduct involving the same type of conspiracy to approach women through the use of state troopers ... to provide sexual favors," Campbell said. "That's a pattern and practice that gives rise to an inference that there has been a conspiracy and an agreement to do that with respect to Ms. Jones."

The lawyers also battled over a claim by Jones' team that she suffered from "sexual aversion" as the result of her alleged encounter with Clinton. In their filing, Jones attorneys' submitted an affidavit by an Arizona sex therapist, Patrick J. Carnes, who spent 3 1/2 hours with Jones and her family in February.

In his affidavit, Carnes said Jones exhibits symptoms of "severe emotional distress," "extreme anxiety," "intrusive thoughts and memories" and "sexual aversion." Bennett has questioned Carnes' credentials and called Jones' claim of sexual aversion "a big joke."

The Complaint: Civil Action No. LR-C-94-290

These were Jones' legal arguments contained in her original complaint, Civil Action No. LR-C-94-290 (full text):

Count 1: Deprivation of Consitutional Rights and Privileges
Jones says Clinton, in summoning her to the suite at the Excelsior and asking her for sex, imposed on her an "oppressive" work environment with the implicit suggestion she could face repercussions if she didn't agree to his request. She claims she was blocked from "opportunity for advancement and she suffered an economic deprivation."

Count 2: Conspiracy To Depriving Persons of Equal Protection of the Laws
Jones says that Clinton and state trooper Danny Ferguson, in arranging to have Jones brought to Clinton's suite, engaged in a "conspiracy" that deprived Jones of "having and exercising her rights and privileges as a citizen of the United States."

Count 3: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Clinton's actions in the hotel suite, Jones' complaint says, were "extreme, intentional, and caused Jones severe emotional distress." And she charges that Clinton and his subordinates subsequently took actions that degraded her further. "These actions were so outrageous in character, and extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society," the count states.

Remedies
The complaint demands $75,000 in compensatory damages for each count, and $100,000 in punitive damages for each count, bringing the grand total to $525,000. Finally, the complaint demands a jury trial for each count.

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