Harassment Diary

by Paulette Cooper, 1982

My 1997 editorial comments are enclosed in [[double square brackets]].

Part 5: My First Grand Jury

In the middle of February I was subpoenaed to appear before a Grand Jury. I was excited, and flattered, thinking that the government was gathering evidence on Meisler's reporting false bomb threats, and wanted to know some thing about the crazy group he belonged to, or the origins of our "feud". Thus I figured I was being called as an expert witness or something and didn't even show up with an attorney.

Bob S [[boyfriend]] was a criminal lawyer, however, and he advised me not to open my mouth without a lawyer until I was sure that I was not the "target" of the investigation. At that Grand Jury, to my amazement, Gordon said that I was the target of the investigation. And I almost dropped dead when he told me that if I was convicted, I could get 15 years! I think it was at that moment that my nightmare really started. (John Gordon was the Assistant U.S. Attourney.)

Petrified, I started looking for lawyers -- none of whom wanted less than a $5,000 retainer! They would call Gordon and hear that the government had some "very serious evidence" against me -- but no one would tell us what the evidence was. They wouldn't even tell us when the two supposed bomb threats allegedly received by Meisler were mailed, and I had traveled enough as a travel writer that I might have been able to immediately prove I couldn't have sent them. I was very upset over having to hire an expensive lawyer to defend myself on something I knew nothing about. And then each lawyer started throwing out terms like "indicted" (based on letters I hadn't seen, mailed on dates I didn't know, based on evidence the Government wouldn't tell me), and I don't know which was greater: my rage at the injustice, or my panic at the possible consequences.

I retained a prestigious criminal form of former AUSAs, Morrison, Paul, Stillman & Bailey (the last no relation), paid I believe 1/2 of the $5,000 retainer (the rest was loaned to me by my parents) and worked primarily with a sanguinary sonofabitch named Jay. Even before the next Grand Jury, Jay suggested I take a lie detector test, and being so naive in those days as to think lie detectors worked, I agreed. They chose one of the most prestigious firms in the country, Richard Arthur. But the test came out inconclusive and the examiner felt that because of my sensitivity to the shades of meanings of different words (as a writer), that I fell into the category of people who cannot and should not be tested on lie detectors. (1)


(1) I didn't successfully pass the control test first, which was to look at a pink piece of paper that had a blue border and say "yes" that it was pink. I still noted the blue, and so registered lying when I said "yes" it was pink

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