Starr Accused of Obstructing Justice in GM Case

| Tue Mar. 3, 1998 4:00 AM EST

A South Carolina attorney accused U.S. Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr yesterday of obstructing justice by concealing perjury in a lawsuit against General Motors. He told the MoJo Wire that he found "the linchpin" of evidence against Starr in our Friday report on Starr's suppression of GM documents.

J. Kendall Few, a lawyer for plaintiffs in several cases involving GM's fire-prone side-saddle fuel tank, charged Starr with committing a criminal obstruction of justice and formally asked the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina to convene a grand jury to investigate Starr's actions on behalf of GM in the 1993 South Carolina case Cameron v. GM.

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As an attorney for GM in that case in 1994 and 1995, Starr made numerous motions -- personally arguing some of them before a federal appeals court -- to suppress secret GM documents which show that a key GM witness changed his story and may have perjured himself in several courtrooms.

In a sworn affidavit released yesterday, Few writes that "The abuse of the attorney-client privilege for the purpose of concealing the existence of prior perjured testimony clearly constitutes an obstruction of justice, and I am prepared to testify...to the fact that Mr. Starr is guilty of an obstruction of justice."

In 1973, GM engineer Edward Ivey wrote a memo calculating the cost to GM of fire deaths in its vehicles. He later testified in more than a dozen lawsuits brought against GM, saying that no one at GM asked him to write the memo, that he couldn't recall why he wrote it, and that he did not distribute it to anyone at GM.

But in a long-suppressed 1981 interview—released two weeks ago by a judge in a Florida lawsuit -- Ivey told GM lawyers he wrote the memo "for Oldsmobile management" to help them deal with fuel system litigation, and that he probably gave it to several specific GM engineers and officials.

MoJo Wire reported Friday that Starr successfully suppressed the damaging Ivey interview in the Cameron case in South Carolina, where he argued that documents discussing the interview were protected under the attorney-client privilege.

Few said Monday that while reading the Florida trial transcripts disclosed in the MoJo Wire article, he found "the linchpin" of evidence that Starr had obstructed justice in the prior case. "The statements of the GM lawyer in the transcript of the McGee trial clearly indicate that Document 233 [which Starr concealed in Cameron] was created from and contains essentially the same information as is contained in Document 210, the Ivey interview."

"The Ivey interview," Few continued, "when contrasted with Mr. Ivey's deposition testimony, clearly indicates that Mr. Ivey, with the complicity of General Motors counsel, had committed perjury in at least 13 separate depositions in at least 9 states over a period of more than 13 years.

"Mr. Starr had access to Document 233, which he described in detail to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in a petition filed with that court on January 4, 1994, and subsequently in oral arguments before that court. Mr. Starr was made clearly aware of the fact that GM was suppressing the contents of Document 210 in at least four letters which I directed to him" in February 1994, Few said. "General Motors encouraged and presented perjured testimony. Mr. Starr was the central figure in that from at least as early as January 4, 1994 to at least as late as January 15, 1995."

Few forwarded copies of his sworn affidavit to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, to the three U.S. Court of Appeals judges who appointed Starr as special prosecutor, and to Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Joseph Biden (D-Del.) on the Senate Judiciary Commmittee. Few also filed a separate motion in a pending lawsuit against GM in South Carolina, asking the judge to make a formal finding that Starr concealed perjury and obstructed justice in the 1993 case.

Kenneth Starr did not return phone calls to his office at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C.

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