Nothing unethical about the affidavit

Here is the core of the affidavit in support of the Motion for Psychiatric Examination:

I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing. I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.

There is nothing in the affidavit about any sexual history of Shelton, and Clinton did not say that Shelton had falsely accused anyone of rape. She also did not say or suggest that Shelton had invited Taylor’s attack.

Naturally, Shelton was upset when she learned about the affidavit. This is what she told Josh Rogin she would say to Clinton if she had the opportunity:

You lied on me. . . . And you are supposed to be for women? You call that [being] for women, what you done to me?

A few general observations:

1. We are not always aware of how others perceive us. A colleague of mine who is not noted for a restrained courtroom style once asked a prosecution witness “Are you known as a big BS’er?” The prosecutor objected. The court sustained the objection, stating “He is probably the last person to know that.”

2. Being for women does not mean that you unquestioningly accept every statement made by a woman or a girl.

3. Taylor, according to Clinton’s account in Living History, claimed that Shelton had “made up her story.” Clinton did not believe this. However, her personal opinion in the matter was irrelevant to her responsibilities. Sometimes lawyers have to say to themselves “I have an opinion, but I could be wrong.”

Now, Shelton doesn’t believe anyone would have said those things about her. Therefore, Clinton must have made them up.

It’s not that simple.

In any case in which the accuser is known to the accused, defense counsel typically gets an earful from the defendant and his family and friends about the character of the accuser. (We know from the bail modification motion that Taylor had family in the area, and that some of them suffered financial hardship as a result of his incarceration.)

The things defense lawyers are told may be accurate, may have a grain of truth but reflect gross distortion, or may be made up out of whole cloth.

The terminology used to describe the past accusations could include accusations of far lesser transgressions than rape. It could include transgressions that were not sexual at all.  It would not be limited to transgressions that came to the attention of law enforcement.

It could include accusations that were truthful but were not believed by whoever reported them to Clinton.

Clinton would have had to be out of her mind to fabricate the contents of the affidavit. In that circumstance, a report giving Shelton a clean bill of mental health would have grossly and unnecessarily embarrassed the defense. Clinton was not planning a career in criminal defense, and her potential professional and political base was the feminist movement. For a feminist a few years out of law school, the Taylor defense was a journey to the dark side.

Clinton’s credibility with Taylor would have been diminished had she brushed off the issues that were being raised about Shelton. Sometimes clients need to hear “I looked into that, and it didn’t help us any.” Clinton’s in-person consultation with the Brooklyn serology expert would also have enhanced her standing with Taylor.

Notwithstanding his initial denial of criminal conduct, she ultimately persuaded him to accept the plea offer even though it meant going back to jail. Somewhere along the line, there was a come-to-Jesus speech, undoubtedly made more effective by her diligence.

Signing off for now…


About Norma Chase

Lawyer in private practice. Practice emphasizes family law and appellate work.
This entry was posted in Kathy Shelton, Thomas Alfred Taylor, Tommy Taylor and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Nothing unethical about the affidavit

  1. No Stress says:

    Thank you for your detailed work. I have ideas for your next blog post:
    1) The preliminary inquiry, which was scheduled for May 19, but in the court document, was date-stamped at May 21. Did the first lawyer attend the arraignment proceedings, and the preliminary inquiry was denied, but then when Hillary was appointed to the case, on May 21, the “denied” was scratched out and it was “granted” instead? Why doesn’t the court log that you found note the result of the preliminary inquiry, that obviously was scheduled in the first entry for May 19?
    2) Why did Gordon Cummings sign the May 21 arraignment proceeding, when he was the son of the judge? The judge had strongly suggested that he donate and support Bill Clinton in 1974. See this article:
    3) If you agree that it was inappropriate for the judge’s son to sign the preliminary inquiry as “granted”, when the previous lawyer had the misfortune of that same hearing “denied”, do you think he did so to assist Hillary inappropriately to benefit her? Do you think, therefore, he had any role in her being a “court appointed” attorney for Taylor (in spite of the prosecutor stating how much Hillary wanted out of the case, although Gibson said at times that Taylor stated in court that he wants a new lawyer, but it apparently wasn’t assigned immediately)?
    4) As for the last note in your very well-written compilation of the court log and court document, you’ve written the judge’s handwriting, that the rapist was released to work free in the community. Do you know of anything of this work release, which has not been reported anywhere? do you think he got the workrelease in the two months he was supposedly in prison, although the motion to release him was denied? Remember it was in Hillary’s request at the time that he be allowed to work and go to jail at night.

    I hope you will have a chance to research these many new blog ideas!

    • Norma Chase says:

      1. I don’t know enough about the Arkansas court system to answer this one. In any state, every courthouse processes cases and manages documents a little differently.
      2. I did a little checking online, and Gordon Cummings would have been finishing up law school at the time; he was admitted to the bar in September of that year. I would guess that he had a courthouse job (not unusual for relatives of judges) and that he signed the document in a clerical capacity. I am sure he was not the decisionmaker.
      3. I don’t see anything fishy here. I will offer a general observation: being politically connected does not mean a lawyer gets to plead treason down to disorderly conduct.
      4. From the fact that the bond reduction motion asks for work release as an alternative to the reduction, I would conclude that Taylor did not have work release between his arrest and his release on bond.

      • Let the Facts Speak says:

        1. But you would concede that what I’m saying could be true – that the initial arraignment proceeding occurred as scheduled on May 19 with Baker and the preliminary inquiry was denied, that the but then on May 21, when Rodham was substituted as Attorney, that same preliminary inquiry was granted? Why doesn’t the court log that you found note the result of the preliminary inquiry, that obviously was scheduled in the first entry for May 19?
        2. If Gordon Cummings was acting in a clerical role, why is it his signature is on the document appearing to grant a hearing that had earlier been denied, as the previous lawyer asked for it? That is certainly not a clerical task – and I cannot find an example where a judge lets someone else sign a document with his decision on it. Can you?
        3. Yes, morally speaking being politically connected doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. But, what if Gordon Cummings acted in a so-called “clerical” role by presiding over the preliminary inquiry, giving Hillary what she wants, with the judge’s tacit approval, who may or may not have been in the courtroom at the time?
        4. I don’t agree with this conclusion, because neither the court documents nor the court docket notes what the decision of the judge was regarding Hillary’s bail request. We only PRESUME Taylor was in jail during this time because he got two months credit during his sentencing. As far as we know, the judge denied bail but granted the work release in that two month time period, and again perhaps Hillary wanted it that way because she knew Taylor didn’t have the money for bond anyway.

        Now, my next question for you is, given that it appears that Gordon Cummings had this role in helping Hillary on the day that she was substituted as an attorney, did she use him when faced with being appointed to this case? For example, if what Mahlon Gibson says is true, that Taylor stood in court and demanded a female lawyer, and that Clinton told Gibson she didn’t want to do it, did she call up Maupin Cummings and talk him out of it? Because she was not appointed attorney for him until May 21, when there had already been 2 additional court appearances after the initial one according to the court docket, not to mention the arraignment proceeding on May 19. So in other words, the judge apparently let Baker represent Taylor for four court appearances even though the judge had already appointed Hillary as the attorney. And was this call that Taylor made in the middle of the courtroom on May 19, during the initial preliminary inquiry? Yet that same motion gets overturned when Hillary becomes attorney, when she initially states she wants nothing to do with it, by the apparent assistance of the judge’s son, a donor to the Clinton machine.

        My theory is Hillary must have changed her mind about the court appointment, because if Gordon Cummings was willing to break the rules and sign a document that only a judge can sign, he must have been happy to serve as a middle man, so that even though Hillary may have initially not wanted to take the case on, when she saw that the system is rigged, she leaped into action. And then all the blood evidence disappears. Or, she intentionally called Mahlon Gibson to pretend like she didn’t want the case, when really the case had been setup for her by Gordon Cummings, to assuage suspicion.

        Another question, do you think it is possible that neither the work release, not the arraignment proceedings on May 19 and 21, or the judge’s response to the initial bail request, are noted in the court docket, because they tend to make the judge and others look bad? Do you think it is possible they tampered with the court docket to make it appear that the psychological evaluation of Kathy Shelton was declined by the judge, or do you think it may have omitted where that decision was overturned, as this was the only spot in the court docket where Hillary’s objection is noted?

      • Norma Chase says:

        I approved your post but do not plan to respond to it. [Original reply.]

        On second thought:

        The arraignment document (page 7) is not a court order. It is a form notice of the defendant’s rights, given during the arraignment proceedings. The date 5/13/75 appears at the top, but that is the date the charges were filed. The rights of which the defendant was informed included “To make bond in the amount of $50,000.00.”

        The arraignment had been scheduled for May 19, 1975. It may or may not have taken place on that date. There is no space for dates for the signatures of the defendant or his attorney. The stamp date of May 21, 1975 is simply the date the document was clocked; after that, it would have been physically placed in the court file. It is not unusual for a document to take a day or two to reach the court file.

        While there is no document specifically stating that the defendant was held for court at the preliminary hearing, we know that he was held from the Motion to Dismiss (page 10). Had he not been held for court, the charge would have been dismissed at the hearing, and there would have been no need for a further motion. We can also infer from the motion that the prosecutor did not call Shelton as a witness at the hearing but rather presented the affidavit of the investigator who had interviewed her.

        In most states, a defendant has the right to a preliminary hearing. Arkansas seems to handle this, or to have handled it, a little differently. I found a 1983 law review article — specifically about Arkansas — titled The Availability of a First Appearance and Preliminary Hearing — Now You See Them, Now You Don’t. When I see a title like that, I ask myself whether I have any immediate need to read further. The answer, in this case, was “Naaah.” But here’s the link if you want to read up:


        Finally, when I said “being politically connected does not mean a lawyer gets to plead treason down to disorderly conduct[]”, I meant that such a lawyer will not be able to plead treason down to disorderly conduct. A lawyer with that expectation would exhaust his or her political capital very quickly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s