Les Moore Responds to Jim Parkman Interview

It was a very small part of the interview, but a few words from attorney Jim Parkman,  brought a request for a chance to respond.

In the interview, recounting a conversation with Donald Watkins prior to taking on the accounting fraud case involving Richard Scrushy, Mr. Parkman says he outlined a couple of conditions for agreeing to work on the case.

Parkman: Conditions  "Number one.  I run the show.  I tell everybody what to do, who to do, how to do it, my theory.  Number two, Donald, you stay on the case; you gotta sit in the courtroom with me.  So I left and they called me the next day and said, You got your conditions.'  I said, 'Okay.'  So within a matter of days we moved to Birmingham."

Les Moore's Background Attorney Les Moore is a former Montgomery police officer and former ABI agent.  He was working as the assistant director of corporate security at HealthSouth when the FBI raided the company offices in March 2003.  He has been working as a lawyer representing Richard Scrushy in various matters since "about May of 2003."   At HealthSouth Before the Trial
Moore says he just wants people to understand the team effort involved in Richard Scrushy's acquittal in Birmingham in June 2005 and he's not sure my interview with Mr. Parkman reflected that teamwork.  He asked me if he could meet with me in person and say a few things concerning the matter.  I worked up some questions and headed back to Birmingham.
We talked at a conference room in the building where Mr. Moore has his office on Thursday, July 20th.  I asked Moore if he was speaking for anyone other than himself and he responded, "Just myself."  He says he likes Jim Parkman and called him a "nice guy" and a "great lawyer" but Moore says he has difficulty with what he read on wsfa.com.

Moore says he first "read the article a couple of weeks ago."  Les Moore On the Article

"A bunch of people brought it to my attention, a lot of people that were involved in the case brought it to my attention.  It was kinda like Jim, when I read...I'll tell you what I thought when I read the article.  It was like he was the only one involved and that kind of struck me as like that's a little strange because that's not the way it was.  It was a team effort.  Everybody was involved and there was no one person.  That was something that really stood out to me in the article, the print.  I didn't watch the video.  I read the print."

"When it was in there about the conditions of him running the show, to me it just didn't operate like that.  It was more of a team effort.  Everybody had input, of course, I was the newest lawyer on the scene.  I didn't have as much input as everybody else and shouldn't have.  But it was just interesting to me that maybe Jim, in his eyes, ran the show, but I didn't see it that way.  I saw it like there was input from everybody and to be honest with you Richard Scrushy made most of the final decisions."

Moore says he first met Mr. Parkman "when he came into this case so that would have been the fall of 2004.  I met him at the office in Birmingham.  That was the first time I'd ever met him or heard of him or seen him."

The former Montgomery police officer says,"I was asked if I knew him and at the time I did not and was asked to do some checking on him as far as just ask around to other lawyers that I knew and I did and I got a good response.  They said that he worked real hard and was one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Dothan, but they specifically talked about Dothan.  That's really it, no other comments."

Moore admits he doesn't know anything about the conversation Parkman had with Watkins.
  "I don't know anything about that conversation, but in my opinion he did not run the show.  It was a team effort.  That's just the way I feel about it and I believe if you ask any of the other lawyers on the team they would agree it was a team effort.  It was not a one man show.  That's what I kind of ...took from the comment and that's not the way I see it."

"There were probably seven lawyers at the table in the courtroom.  I was in the courtroom.  This is another thing.  You're talking about in the courtroom.  We had sidebars.  Every time there was an objection there was a sidebar."Sidebars

"Ninety-nine percent of those sidebars Jim Parkman didn't even attend.  Art Leach and I handled all the sidebars because we were doing all the legal arguments and legal issues.  Now I'm not saying that to take anything away from Jim Parkman and his ability to cross examine, but there were more people there working really hard in that case than just Jim Parkman."

Team Effort"Jim Parkman's a great cross examiner - he's just like, great and then on the other hand you've got Art Leach who argues the legal issues great.  That's what it took in this case...one person couldn't do it all.  It all really came together well.  You had Watkins there kind of strategizing  and everybody would throw their ideas in.. I mean we'd sit in the room at night, all hours of the night and throw out ideas  and everybody had their input and decisions would be made. Sometimes things would change.  Sometimes things would stay the way they were originally.  It was important that everybody pull their weight and everybody did.  It was probably one of the greatest team efforts I've ever seen."

Moore says everyone was involved in decisions about how to run the case:Making Decisions

"You know, there's not one person in this group that made the decisions.  I mean, Richard Scrushy was just as much involved in the decisions as anybody, which he should have been.  But when issues came up, Donald Watkins was involved; Jim Parkman was involved; Martin Adams was involved; I was involved; Art Leach was involved and I'm not sure how much people are aware but we had an individual by the name of Jim Jenkins in Atlanta who just...he has a great legal mind and he did a lot of research and a lot of the writing in this case that supported us during the trial and before the trial.  He really came into the picture strong when Chadbourne-Parke left."
"I saw it as a team effort and Jim had his core group of people and they worked on the evidence and the facts and then I worked more with Art Leach and Jim Jenkins and we worked more on the legal issues and arguing the law to the court.  And like I said, and of course you can see from the results, it worked out for the good."

Different Roles "I was more into the side of the case of research, of the legal issues as far as the motions that were filed, the arguments.  I teamed up with Art Leach.  Art Leach and I worked more together and then Jim Parkman had him and his crew.  What they started doing when he came into the case was going through the documents.  Some of the other firms that had been involved had gone through the documents but Jim, and rightfully so, said he wanted to go through the documents himself and that's when that began."

"So they were pretty much going through the documents and we were going down the other road - filing motions and writing briefs and arguing.  I remember one of the things we did was try to get the tape recordings suppressed and that was the big issue.  We had to write briefs and argue that."
Art Leach, who also continues to represent Mr. Scrushy in various legal matters, did not read the article on Mr. Parkman and has nothing to say regarding that issue.  However, he tells me he believes everyone has missed the role of another person very important to the case - Judge Bowdre.  

 "First, it was critically important that Judge Bowdre was dedicated to providing Richard Scrushy a fair trial.  The government's media blitz was very effective in turning the jury pool against Richard Scrushy.  Without a fair judge, who saw that all those with established bias were removed, the case would have been over before it began.

Next, with regard to our motions, Judge Bowdre actually listened, studied the law, and made her decisions impartially. Her decisions were always fair and grounded in the law. She truly has an inquistal judicial mind, by that I mean she is a judge who loves the law, enjoys learning the law and also enjoys the complicated interactions with the lawyers. She is - bar none - the finest judge I have ever appeared before.

As with everything in the law we had some success and we were less than successful in other areas. Judge Bowdre denied the challenge to the then new Sarbanes-Oxley corporate fraud statute which was prepared and argued by the Chadbourne lawyers. She granted our motion to restrict evidence of wealth. We won a motion to suppress based upon the improper collusion between the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Most importantly we were allowed to try our case - get our evidence before the jury and ultimately we prevailed."

 Mr. Leach, a former prosecutor, says it's important to remember the defense was not the only side dealing with a complicated matter.  "The story in Birmingham is also a story of the DOJ trying to cope with a difficult case in an honorable and professional manner. Former Federal Prosecutor and Deputy Chief of the Fraud Division, Richard Smith was at all times guided by the highest ethics while zealously prosecuting Mr. Scrushy."

Case Theory  As to who developed the theory of the case Les Moore contends, "I would say that Donald Watkins and Richard Scrushy did and I won't even pinpoint it down to those two.  I think it was everybody.  We would sit down and have strategy sessions to figure out what way we were going and how we were going to argue and how we were going to handle witnesses that way."

"You've got to look at it (this way too)...Our client was innocent...Because we knew that it made it a little bit easier in my opinion.  I mean if you can get up and argue your client is innocent then it makes things go a lot easier and obviously it went well."
Art Leach says, "Bottom line, there were a great many factors that combined to cause the result in Birmingham. The same can be said for Montgomery."
Jim Parkman in other conversations with me has always given others a lot of credit for their roles in the accounting fraud case.  If there was not enough context around some of Mr. Parkman's comments the fault lies with me, not him. 
I like to give people the chance to say what they have to say and stay out of the way as much as possible.  Readers are smart enough to form their own opinions.
Reported by:  Helen Hammons