The ground rule here is the same politically embarrassing but legally sensible one that Wright employed back in April: Assume everything Jones alleges actually happened. Was there any harm done? "There were no explicit threats of reprisal and there were no reprisals," Clinton attorney Amy Sabrin said, pointing out that Jones claims to have met the then governor for a grand total of only 15 minutes -- and received the same raises as her colleagues afterward. And what about Monica? Jones' lawyers say the earth-shattering revelations of the Starr report represent new evidence of a pattern of predatory sexual behavior. Nonsense, says the Clinton camp; Lewinsky came along four years later, on her own steam. Tune in next year for the appeal decision, if anyone still cares by then.
So is the Paula Jones suit back on, or isn't it? Nobody knows but a three-judge panel in St. Paul, Minn., and they're not likely to tell for another three or four months. Still, lawyers for Jones and President Clinton did their level best to sway the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday. Both sides in the sexual harassment case had good reason to be apprehensive. Jones has an uphill battle because such a legally conservative court would be loath to overturn a lower court's decision. But Clinton can't breathe easy yet; the judges seemed especially interested Tuesday in whether their Arkansas counterpart Susan Webber Wright had the right to toss out Jones' case in the first place.