Haunting past p. 13

By: M.L. STEIN DONALD SEGRETTI, THE so-called "dirty trickster" in President Richard Nixon's reelection campaign, blames the media for his withdrawing his candidacy for an Orange County, Calif., judgeship.
"Reporters did not ask me one sensible, substantive question," fumed Segretti, a Newport Beach lawyer, in an interview. "All they wanted to talk about was Nixon."
Following the 1972 presidential campaign, Segretti served 41/2 months in prison on his misdemeanor conviction on charges of distributing anonymous political literature on Nixon's behalf.
In a bitterly worded press release, Segretti, 53, said that in launching his campaign for the Superior Court judgeship, "I failed to consider that the media will never forget that I was involved in the reelection campaign of President Nixon 23 years ago.
"What I had hoped would be a low-key, dignified campaign for judicial office (which merits dignity and respect) has turned into something altogether different, sensationalizing the events of 23 years ago, instead of focusing on the issues of today. My experience practicing law and my life in 1995 have been completely ignored."
The press, Segretti complained, paid no attention to his credentials for the judgeship, which included graduation from the prestigious Boalt Hall Law School of the University of California, Berkeley, four years as a captain in the Army Judge Advocate General Corps, teaching at the Corps' school at the University of Virginia, a Bronze Star for service in Vietnam and 17 years as a practicing attorney.
Also ignored, he went on, was his motivation for running: "Serious deficiences in the judicial system," including an overburdened criminal justice system, the rising cost of legal services and a "legal lottery in which juries make huge awards for relatively small grievances."
"I believed that by sitting as a Superior Court judge, I could have addressed some of those problems," he contended, after pulling out of the race four days after entering it.
In a further slap at the media, Segretti commented: "While I have been told that I could win this election, I have to ask myself, 'At what cost?' Not only would my family suffer, the office of Superior Court Judge might suffer loss of dignity. The resulting cost to both my family and the judicial system is something I do not wish to endure."
In the interview, Segretti recalled: "All they [the media] wanted was to sensationalize what happened a long time ago. They completely lost sight of what they should have been concentrating on. What they wanted was to portray me as a flamboyant, controversial figure. They looked only for sound bites."


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