Law in Popular Culture

Story of New Law Grad's Work on Tim McVeigh's Defense Team Is Headed to Hollywood

As 1996 neared an end, Chad Wold’s life course seemed set. The recent law school graduate was getting settled in Montana, where he was about to get married and study for the bar exam.

But then, in a stunning development that illustrates the power of networking, came a phone call offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The lead defense attorney for accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, with whom Wold had chatted briefly after hearing him speak at a conference, needed a bright law clerk and wanted Wold to take on the Denver job, recounts the Flathead Beacon.

The offer from attorney Stephen Jones was not one Wold could turn down. So he accepted and somehow managed to persuade his fiancée, who was then out of town, shortly before their scheduled wedding, that he and her car would be gone by the time she returned and they would have to try to figure out, long-distance, how to deal with wedding plans.

Now Barry Levinson, who directed Rain Man and The Natural, is planning to do a movie based on Wold’s experience on McVeigh’s defense team, using a script written by Wold’s brother, the article says.

Today, the 38-year-old Wold is a civil litigator living in Whitefish, Mont. His former client is dead, after being convicted in federal court, sentenced to death and executed in 2001 for the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 and injured 680.

Wold says the life-changing experience of working on the case continues to shape his views of the justice system and the world, and he is proud of the job the defense team did.

“We were walking tall knowing we defended someone zealously, someone who could not defend himself,” he tells the Beacon. “The system worked.”

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