Moving this post to the top because I’ve added additional information.
Wednesday, September 12th, University Democrats had a Question and Answer session with Mikal Watts. I have a transcript and as Half Empty puts it
The question was:
This is a long and twisted and rambling answer that will make your eyeballs cross but hang in there:
A: Yeah, well, I guess the Karl Rove truck begins. Let me just tell you something. The people that we are going up against will swift boat you all day long, and they will continue to swift boat you, and I can assure you of a couple things. The people that we’re going up against — you better be ready to win. If you’re going to a knife fight, don’t let the other guy have the big knife. I can assure you that for the last 20 years, I have fought the fights against the large corporations. I have fought the fights for the people who that weren’t flamethrowers — on behalf of the people of
that frankly are lucky that they have a match. And we have got to be ready. Because I don’t care about what they’re gonna make up this time, what they’re gonna make up next time, it’s coming, and we’ve got to be ready to fight back. Texas
The people of
want to hear about issues and they don’t want character assassinations. But I can tell you that the way that I handle that, is I tell my wife don’t watch the TV, don’t read the blogs, don’t read this, don’t read that, ok. I can take those blows, and will take them. Ok, and I’m ready to take those blows, but I’m ready to fight back. I told a joke about Karl Rove. He came down to Harlingen, Texas, with John Cornyn, to raise money, thereby giving rise to the joke that, you know, in South Texas we know about a guy named Dick Cheney, but at least when he comes he brings a shotgun; this guy brings a snake. [laughter] Texas
The Republican machinery – the Republican machinery — will attack me, they will attack Rick, they will attack, anybody who’s a Democrat. It will come. But you better have someone who’s ready, willing, and able to fight back, and if we don’t, we’re gonna be in a world of hurt.
So, what did the UT students take away from that long non-answer? Here’s what one student who recently landed in
“You know that thing about having a big knife when you go into a fight?”
I think what he was saying that he has a lot of money and he can afford to buy judges.“
Edited with additional information:
The letter in question (pdf) was written by Mikal Watts to opposing legal council in an effort to entice them to accept a $60,000,000.00 settlement rather than filing an appeal. In the letter he lists the many reasons he believes the appeal would be unsuccessful including some history of similar cases where the plaintiffs were awarded “nine figure settlements.”
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So far the letter represents exactly what I would what from my legal representation but things start to break down on pages 7 and 8.
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In the rest of the letter
I read the part in question like this: It won’t do you any good to seek an appeal because I’m an excellent lawyer who has influence with the judges because I have made substantial campaign contributions to them therefore they are inclined to be favorable toward me. I guess I’m not alone in that interpretation because the Houston Chronicle asked why this wouldn’t disqualify
Mikal Watts of San Antonio, a lawyer and candidate for the Democratic nomination for
senator, has done the reputations of the courts and the trial lawyers no good. U.S.
As reported by the Chronicle’s R.G. Ratcliffe, in 2001 Watts wrote to opposing counsel claiming that his firm’s campaign contributions had won the hearts and minds of the justices on the 13th Court of Appeals, “all good Democrats.” If
Wattsand his firm indeed gave campaign gifts with the expectation of influencing the court’s decisions, it would constitute an illegal bribe. If Wattswas just making an idle threat to intimidate a defendant in a lawsuit, he behaved unethically.
As a well- and largely self-financed candidate for high office,
Wattsowes voters an explanation: Does he think his campaign donations influence the outcome of cases? Regardless of the answer, Wattsshould explain to the voters why his outrageous claim does not violate the public trust and disqualify him from the office he seeks.
We the People need our trial lawyers to protect us from abuses by big business negligence. In this regard, Mikal Watts has done an excellent job of defending the little people. However, his apparent attempt to purchase influence in trials and to purchase a senate seat does no favor to those in his profession and only adds to the bad wrap that Republicans give to trial lawyers.
An editorial in the San Antonio Express News calls for judicial reform: Editorial: Watts’ letter shows judicial reform need