Starr Speaks to Texas Tech Grads
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr told law school graduates Saturday that truth is the foundation of their profession and that ``lies and half-truths corrode our system of justice.″
Speaking to graduates of Texas Tech University’s School of Law, Starr did not directly refer to President Clinton or other aspects of his investigation. He did spend time honoring the grand jury as an essential tool of American justice and saying such bodies should continue deliberation until every stone has been turned.
``The grand jury serves society by conducting a thorough and extensive investigation of potential wrongdoing,″ Starr said. ``Its work is not complete, the (Supreme) Court has said, `until every available clue has been run down and all witnesses examined in every proper way to find out if a crime has been committed.‴
In a reference that might be applied to Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, who spent 18 months in prison for civil contempt of court for refusing to testify and recently was indicted on criminal contempt charges for refusing a second time, Starr said: ``Every citizen has an obligation to appear and to testify when subpoenaed. Many of the trial limitations on testimony, such as relevancy and hearsay, are inapplicable in the grand jury.″
And perhaps hinting at some of his legal fights with the Clinton administration over executive and other privileges that have been claimed, he said the only exception to everyone having to testify before grand juries are certain ``testimonial privileges″ that are to be limited in their use. ``Witnesses can withhold certain information in order to advance more important social values,″ he said. ``We tolerate such impediments to truth-seeking only in exceptionally important circumstances.″
Starr declined to answer reporters’ questions at the afternoon ceremony beyond saying he had accepted the invitation to speak because of his friendship with law professor Thomas Baker, the school’s top First Amendment expert.