Will The Real Tom Cruise Please Rise?

The Cheshire home invasion case has thus far been a media extravaganza, taxing the resources of a small courthouse in a small state. But for all the fanfare the trial of Steven Hayes has offered, the forthcoming trial of his co-defendant, Joshua Komisarjevsy, will offer even more pizzazz. That's because one of the court-appointed lawyers representing Mr. Komisarjevsky may well be the inspiration for Tom Cruise's role in the legal thriller, A Few Good Men.

Walter Bansley III plays the role of understudy to lead counsel Jeremiah Donovan in the Cheshire case. He was appointed to replace Auden Groggin, who left the defense team after being elected to the state legislature. But is Bansley really the understated stuff stars study?

According to the website for Mr. Bansley's father-and-son firm, Bansley is "the actual military lawyer" portrayed by Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. Bansley elder and Bansley junior pose on their site, dressed in Marine Corps uniforms and looking for all the world like the a couple of fighters ready to rumble. Their website features a link to the "Cheshire Capital Case."

Bansley's been in the state for about 16 years now, and has done plenty of the thankless yeoman's work of court-appointed counsel to folks seeking a new trial after conviction. And he's not been bashful about his exploits as the real lawyer Tom Cruise only pretened to be; the local media has reported on this understudy star in our midst. Let's face it, it is an impressive bragging right by anyone's standards.

It turns out that Bansley is not the only one bragging about that role, however. Don Marcari, an attorney with 13 -- yes, count 'em, 13 -- offices in North Carolina and Virginia, also claims that he was the inspiration for Cruise's role. His website boasts: "Don first gained national attention when his exploits as a young defense attorney ... became the basis for the motion picture, A Few Good Men." The Baltimore Sun has conferred this honor on Marcari, printing a correction to a story misidentifying Marcari. Answers.com lists Marcari as the lawyer Cruise portrayed. No mention of Mr. Bansley in these sources. 

But wait, there are other claimants to this throne. According to Wikipedia.com, the role played by Cruise, Lt. Daniel Kaffey, was actually a composite of three men: Marcari; a former United States Attorney, David Iglesias; and, Christopher Johnson. Both Iglesias and Johnson claim on their webpages that they were one among others who inspired Cruise's role. No mention of Mr. Bansley here either.

This is what lawyers call an apparent dispute of fact. I can't explain how all these claims can be reconciled. I suspect the underlying story is complex: I wince when I see a lawyer qualify a simple statement of fact by such locutions as "the actual military lawyer." When I tell my wife about a glowing sunrise, no qualification is necessary. I saw the Sun; not the actual Sun hiding somewhere behind an apparent Sun.

So in a case that has brought its share of high-profile controversy and drama, comes now the quick descent from the profound to the ridiculous: grown men all boasting that an actor was paid to portray them. Perhaps Tom Cruise will attend the Komisarjevsky trial and clear all this up. Most likely not, though. Odds are he was just reading from a script.

Perhaps all four men talked about the trial to the scriptwriter, thus giving all colorable claims to being, well, what? 

I don't expect answers to this query. I merely raise it before the mainstream press starts reporting that Tom Cruise's ghost is defending Joshua Komisarjevsky. Perhaps a real reporter can sort all this out before the new trial begins.  We're not like the folks scorned by Lt. Colonel Nathan Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. We can handle the truth.

Also listed under: Cheshire Homicide

Comments: (1)

  • A Few Too Many Good Men
    The reality is that in the incident upon which "A Few Good Men" (both the play and the movie) was based, there was a large team of Navy JAG lawyers, including Aaron Sorkin's sister, who told him about the case. When writing the script, he used his sister as the basis for Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway, played by Demi Moore in the film. It seems like every male member of the defense team has subsequently claimed to be the basis for Kaffee.
    Josiah: Interesting that all these guys are preening to be the one and only and the sole woman in the mix stands silently by.
    Posted on October 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm by Josiah Rowe

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