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Joseph Wambaugh

July 02, 1989

Concerning Joseph Wambaugh's legal battles, "The Crimes of Joseph Wambaugh" (by Sean Mitchell, Feb. 26): I can see why he has been sued so often despite signed waivers and fee payments. He has an attitude problem that invites confrontation. As to his intemperate criticism of the jurors in the MacDonald vs. McGinniss trial at which he testified, I, as forewoman of the jury, would like to set him straight on a few facts.

To start with, we did not think Jeffrey MacDonald was innocent--as Wambaugh asserted. After reading "Fatal Vision," most of us sadly agreed on the guilt of this "handsome, articulate Princeton physician." But that was not the issue. This civil case was about contracts and the means Joe McGinniss used to write the book. Wambaugh's complaint that we did not like him, McGinniss or William F. Buckley, who also testified, is irrelevant. What we had to decide was, in effect, whether the end justified the means as they described it, and, if not, what damage had been done and to whom. That we never got that far (after a five-to-one decision that MacDonald had fulfilled his contract) was due to one juror who refused to deliberate; so what might ultimately have been the verdict has to be pure conjecture. The settlement that was so "astonishing and alarming" had nothing to do with us.

ELIZABETH LANE

Claremont

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