Letter to Representative Robert H. Michel on Justice Department Action on the Trial of Representative Harold Ford
Dear Mr. Leader:
This is in response to the March 2 letter from you and four of your colleagues. In that letter you express concern about the process which led the Department of Justice to object to the impaneling of a virtually all-white jury brought in from Jackson, Tennessee to try Congressman Harold Ford in Memphis, Tennessee.
Please be informed that when the White House received inquiries concerning this jury issue, they were referred, at the direction of my Counsel, to the Department of Justice for whatever action the Department deemed proper. I have been informed by Counsel that the White House made no recommendation to anyone at the Department of Justice as to how this issue should be resolved.
The Acting Attorney General, Stuart Gerson (who, as you know, was a senior member of the prior Administration and will be leaving office when a new Attorney General is confirmed), has informed us that he personally made the decision to object to the impaneling of the jury and that he did so strictly on the merits. When he made his decision, Mr. Gerson wrote that he was motivated by "a desire to achieve a principle of fairness and uniformity that reflects on far more than this case" and his decision was based on an "[un]willing[ness] to say on behalf of the United States, that justice cannot be obtained from a Memphis jury or, indeed, from the jury in any city." I am attaching a copy of his written statement.
I have no reason to question this statement by Mr. Gerson or his explicit assurance that political considerations played no role in his decision.
NOTE: This letter was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary but was not issued as a White House press release.
William J. Clinton, Letter to Representative Robert H. Michel on Justice Department Action on the Trial of Representative Harold Ford Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220301