My favorite side bar to the saga of Lewis “Scooter Libby” involves jury foreman Denis Collins. Soon after Libby’s conviction was announced, Collins, clad in a ski jacket, found himself addressing a horde of reporters. Collins played the role of plain-spoken everyman in the D.C. to the hilt. His white hair flapped in the wind as he asked “Where’s Rove…where are these other guys?”
It got even better when Collins did his media hits at night — Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper, Keith Olbermann. He wore a white shirt with stripes. He had his tie pulled up just before his top button. I took a good look at him and something about the whole package was very familiar. The persona was almost identical to any one of a number of City Desk reporters I’ve worked with or come into contact with over the years. The closest direct match to Collins locally is John R. Ellement of The Boston Globe. Ellement’s got the same haircut, the same sartorial style, the same direct quality. These guys, in a way, are throw backs. Real newspapermen who don’t fancy themselves part of the ruling class.
Now, that all changes for Collins. He the subject of great attention. He’s got a major account of his jury service on the Huffington Post. The only surprise here is that Collins didn’t hold out for a major book deal. Whoever placed him on this jury allowed his ship to come in.
Collins has been banging around for years. He’s such a Washington D.C. person he has written a novel about Douglas MacArthur and the Bonus Army during the Great Depression. Now he’s part of Washington D.C. history. Right now, there are questions about Collins’ conflicts. But it was the job of Libby’s lawyer to knock him out if he viewed it as a problem. (The reality here is that finding people to serve on urban juries is often difficult. I’ve heard of lawyers being called to sit on juries in cases where they’ve had litigation against one of the sides in the case.) My comment on Collins is as follows: see your opportunities and take ’em.