Friday, Jan. 09, 2009

Ken Starr

Then: A former federal judge under Ronald Reagan, Kenneth Starr served as United States Solicitor General and was at one time a leading candidate to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. In 1994, Starr replaced Robert Fiske as the independent counsel tasked with investigating the Whitewater controversy, a scandal which eventually morphed into the Monica Lewinsky investigation. President Clinton's impeachment trial came to define Starr's time in the office.

Starr's case against Clinton is laid out in the 445 page report to Congress now known as the Starr Report, released in September, 1998. That report, which was released to the public and became a best seller led to an accusation that Clinton had lied under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky and ultimately to a House vote to impeach. That year, Starr shared TIME's Person of the Year cover with President Clinton.

Clinton was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999, and Starr resigned from the Office of the Independent Counsel that October. The office was later dissolved and replaced by the U.S. Justice Department Office of Special Counsel.

Now: After he left office, Starr placed his focus on law education and private practice, leaving Washington behind. He authored a best-selling 2002 book, First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life, which sought to provide readers with an easy understanding of Supreme Court decisions.

In 2004, he became dean of Pepperdine University's Law School; he has also remained active in private practice, including several high-profile cases. In 2005 he did pro bono work representing Robin Lovitt, a Virginia man who was sentenced to death for a 1998 murder. More recently, he has worked on the defense of security contractor Blackwater International in lawsuits involving the deaths of civilian contractors in Iraq, and is currently acting as counsel for several religious groups who campaigned to enact Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban.

Starr remains silent on the details of the Clinton impeachment, but reached by TIME while vacationing over the holidays in Florida, he acknowledged there were things that might have been done differently.

"All in all, it would have been better, more prudent for a different independent counsel to be appointed to investigate the Lewinsky phase of the investigation, but I think that is wishful thinking," Starr says, "It had to be investigated under the [independent counsel] statute. The statute required that if certain information came to the attention of the attorney general, then the matter had to be investigated and Attorney General [Janet] Reno did her duty and said the Lewinsky matter has to be investigated and the sitting independent counsel should be the one to do it."


Listen to Ken Starr talk about his post-Independent Counsel career

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