Archive for July, 2011
Jeffrey MacDonald, Wade Smith and Me
In the summer of 2004, the 25th anniversary of the federal prosecution and conviction of Jeffrey MacDonald for the murder of his pregnant wife and two small daughters, Jim Heavner, the owner of WCHL, the flagship radio station of Chapel Hill, conducted a wide ranging three part interview with Wade Smith, one of MacDonald’s defense attorneys and also later one of my defense attorneys, and myself. During the middle hour of the interview, we talked in detail about the MacDonald trial.
Now, we are putting portions of that interview, unedited and just as it was then done, on my website which is www.blackburnseminars.com. If you go to the home page and scroll to the bottom middle, you can click on and just listen. You don’t need a special device, just the ability to click. In coming days we will have more of the interview, but for now, there is a very interesting several minute clip.
Some of you may not know, but at the end of the trial, during the time of the closing arguments, Wade, who was supposed to be the closer for his side and make the last argument for about an hour, never got the chance to really speak. That is because the other defense attorney, Bernie Segal of California, took three hours and fourteen minutes for his argument, leaving Wade just sixty seconds to argue his points to the jury.
I was worried that the Court might give Wade more time, and so perhaps as a preemptive move, I offered Wade ten minutes of my time, which he took. During the entire defense argument to the jury, this was the quietest the courtroom ever got. In the book Fatal Vision, Joe McGinniss quotes a juror as saying “perhaps if Mr. Smith had spoken more”. But he didn’t, and we will never know.
Wade and I talk about this moment in the clip on my website. You can hear his own personal thoughts about that time, now long ago, but still fresh in memory. And, you will hear me say it might have made a difference.
What if You Lived Your Life This Way…
· Humility – there is a temptation for a person to believe that he or she has all the answers, and the world is just waiting. I have found that the most attractive quality in a person is humility, and the ability to listen and learn from others. What makes a person the most attractive is the willingness to just listen.
· Self-Confidence (quietly) – this may seem like a contradiction to the above, but actually it should go along with humility. A quiet self-confidence in one’s self is critical. Don’t say you can’t do something because you are afraid. Try. Even if you fail, you will learn from that.
· Learn to Say No – when something does not feel right, do not do it. Do not cut corners. Do not say you will do something and then not do it. If you don’t think you should or can, then walk away.
· Learn to Follow Through and Keep your Promises – If you commit to doing something, then do it. And when you said you would. Always. If you do this, you can be successful. If not, you have no chance.
· Be truthful – there is no such thing as a “little white lie”. They can so easily grow into big ones, and once you go down that path, it is very difficult to come back.
· Do Not Over Commit – don’t think you can be a super-person. Act within yourself and agree only to do what is possible, and then work so hard to finish what you have started.
· Find your Passion in Life – everyone has a passion. Too many people don’t follow what is their own passion. You only have one life. Do what makes you happy and content, without regard to how much money is involved. Don’t let the acquisition of money and things run your life. Live your life in technicolor, not in black and white. If it takes some time to find your passion, keep at it.
· Sense of Humor – I could not live without this, and I doubt you can either. It is one of the most critical traits a person can have.
· Never Ever Give Up – Winston Churchill was the one most famous for saying this. He said it a very dark time in his country’s life. The words are still true today.
· Financial Self Control – live and work within your means. Don’t go too much into debt. Doing so will rob you of the passion in your life. It will take away any chance of real happiness. Don’t spend your life seeing how many material things you can acquire. But if you must acquire something, try friendships.
· Mistakes (serious ones) – they will follow you the rest of your life. You will never get rid of them. So avoid moral or legal mistakes. The price is too high.
· Kindness – “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Plato
· Grace – it has often been defined as “something we get that we don’t deserve”. Recognize this and accept and embrace it.
· Faith – at some point, for almost everyone, faith is the one constant and compass that you must have to live a good and successful life.