TLC: "If You Want 'em To Pay, Give 'em A Say"

Regular readers of this blog know something it takes the rest of you only minutes to learn: I am gullible and sometimes a fool. I've been taken in the past 24 hours. So have some of you.

A writer going by the name of Jimmy Jones has posted on these pages. The writer is familiar with the inner workers of the Trial Lawyers College. He raised good questions about whether some of the dust stirred in recent comments on posts about the college is attributable to former executive director Joane Garcia-Colson's recent departure. Did she quit in a huff once Gerry Spence made it plain that his new heir apparent was Jude Basile?

The name of the sender struck me as familiar. I even conjured up a wholesome beef-fed face of some lanky Texan, or a good ol' pork-fed fellow from Oklahoma. I could almost even hear the voice of the writer. I was certain I knew him. He does have some insight into doings at the ranch, insinuating that Garcia-Colson once lost it and screamed at Spence in the presence of Spence's wife, an allegation that appears to have the ring of truth to it, based on other reports.

But there is no Jimmy Jones among the alumni or the college or staff. I have confirmed this through several people familiar with such things. Jimmy Jones is a pseudonym, and not just any pseudonym. I was blind, dumb and gullible: Jimmy Jones is none other than Guyana's Jim Jones, and you recall him, don't you? He made Kool Aid and mass suicide something like synonyms in the minds of some.

Query? Who is Jimmy Jones, and who at the college is feeding him, or her, information? It is someone with an axe to grind against Joane. Many of the points he makes against her lack foundation in fact. Joane had fled the ranch before the brilliant tomfoolery of "Thongs for Justice" apparel was conceived and executed.

There was plenty of finger-pointing going on in private emails about Jimmy's identity today. One board members has been singled out as a suspect. I spoke to the board member, who denies the charge, and I believe the denial. It would be incredibly stupid to enter this fray by proxy. A board member or staff member proclaiming to be a truth-telling warrior for justice does not enhance her or his credibility by hiding behind a pseudonym. This discussion about TLC hardly rises to the level of the Federalist Papers.

But new questions did arise today:

1. Why was Kaitlin Larimer recently muscled out of the position of treasurer at a recent TLC board meeting? Did a full board vote to approve the new treasurer, Jim Nugent?

2. Is it true that Jude Basile, Nugent and Spence decided without full board approval to name the new executive director, a fire-cracker with former experience in fundraising and lobbying? Were other board members really surprised to learn of this appointment, expecting, as was announced, that applications would be open until September 15?

3. One source reports that there were but four applicants for the executive director's position at the time of the new director's appointment, not the stack described in Wyoming by Basile at the 80/15 celebration?

Questions, questions, questions. All this whispering and so little speech. I am hard-pressed to understand it.

But I do understand this: The Trial Lawyers College claims to be an institution dedicated to obtaining justice for the people. It opposes big government and seeks to make corporations accountable. Yet the college is accountable to no one: the board elect itself after apparent nomination of candidates by Spence; the property used by the college is owned by a foundation with a lease that can be revoked at any time; although a board exists, power increasing flows into the hands of Spence and a couple of hand-selected cronies. All this and contributors and those dependent on the college for psychic sustenance appear afraid to speak out. Why not just change to name of the ranch from Thunderhead Ranch to Little Kremlin in Wyoming?

Why not permit alumni to vote for a few board members? It makes little sense to infantalize alumni with a B-Team board of F Warriors: "If you want 'em to pay, give 'em a say," Spence might plead. Why not publish the minutes of board meetings? Why not full disclosure of the financial structure folks are cajoled into contributing to whenever two or more are gathered in the name of Gerry Spence? And why isn't anyone questioning the increasing power given Spence's wife, who is now on the board?

Alter ego, anyone? It doesn't take much work to pierce this corporate veil. Why not just give Spence his immortality? He ought to transfer title to the ranch to the college. Devotees can then build him a library that will bear his name forever. Then open up the board and make the college a mutual society of warriors dedicated to something other than cloak and dagger on the Internet, and hawking cases from students nationwide in the quest to build a reputation rivaling that of the master himself.

About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis


Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

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