Richard Nixon’s job as public partner did not include trying cases. However, he did make an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1965, law partner and future White House Counsel Leonard Garment handed him the case that would be known as Time v. Hill. Garment believed the argument would help Nixon as he prepared for his 1968 presidential campaign by showing him at the top of his profession.
Nixon represented James and Elizabeth Hill, a married couple in Pennsylvania who had become a news sensation after escaped convicts broke into their home and held them hostage before escaping in the Hills’ car. The incident partially inspired a novel, The Desperate Hours, that was soon made into a play and movie. The Hills, upset over the loss of their privacy, were angered when Life published a story about the play, accusing the magazine of stating that the heavily fictionalized The Desperate Hours had been a factual re-enactment of the incident and sued.
Nixon, made two oral arguments before the high court, which was headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren (pictured), a longtime political rival and personal enemy of Nixon’s. Ironically, Warren ended up voting for Nixon’s clients—albeit in a losing effort. Time (Life’s parent company) prevailed. To his chagrin, Warren would eventually deliver the oath of office to Nixon—months before retiring from the Supreme Court and handing a vacancy to his longtime nemesis.
Nixon in New York is the first book written by Victor Li, an assistant managing editor at the ABA Journal.
Read an excerpt from Nixon in New York in the May 2018 issue of the ABA Journal.
Attribution: Text by Victor Li; gallery by Andy Lefkowitz; photo by Wikimedia Commons.