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Ken Starr

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Ken Starr

Ken Starr
Kenneth W. Starr
President and Chancellor of Baylor University
Assumed office
June 1, 2010
Preceded by David Garland (Acting)
39th Solicitor General of the United States
In office
May 26, 1989 – January 20, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Deputy John Roberts
Preceded by Charles Fried
Succeeded by Drew Days
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
September 20, 1983 – May 26, 1989
Appointed by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by George MacKinnon
Succeeded by Karen Henderson
Personal details
Born Kenneth Winston Starr
(1946-07-21) July 21, 1946
Vernon, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1975)
Republican (1975–present)
Spouse(s) Alice Mendell (1970–present)
Alma mater Harding University
Brown University (MA)
Duke University (JD)

Kenneth Winston "Ken" Starr (born July 21, 1946) is an American lawyer and educational administrator, who has also been a federal judge. He carried out controversial investigation of figures during the Clinton administration.

Starr served as a federal independent counsel while Bill Clinton was U.S. president. Starr was initially appointed to investigate the suicide death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster and the Whitewater real estate investments of Bill Clinton. The three-judge panel charged with administering the Independent Counsel Act later expanded the inquiry into numerous areas including an extramarital affair that Bill Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky. After several years of investigation, Starr filed the Starr Report, which alleged that Bill Clinton had lied about existence of the affair during a sworn deposition. The allegation opened the door for the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the five-year suspension of Clinton’s law license.

Starr currently serves as the president and chancellor of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and serves on the board of trustees at the Baylor College of Medicine.


  • Early life 1
  • Education 2
  • Legal career 3
  • Federal judge and solicitor general 4
  • Early 1990s 5
  • Independent counsel 6
    • Appointment 6.1
    • Investigation of the death of Vince Foster 6.2
    • Expansion of the investigation 6.3
    • Lewinsky scandal, Paula Jones lawsuit 6.4
    • Second thoughts on DOJ request 6.5
    • Criticism and political satire 6.6
  • Post–independent counsel activities 7
    • Death penalty cases 7.1
    • Sarbanes–Oxley 7.2
    • Morse v. Frederick 7.3
    • Blackwater Security Consulting v. Nordan (No. 06-857) 7.4
    • California Proposition 8 post-election lawsuits 7.5
    • Defense of Jeffrey Epstein 7.6
    • Support for Christopher Kloman 7.7
  • President of Baylor University 8
  • Published works 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Bibliography 12
  • External links 13

Early life

Ken Starr was born near Vernon, Texas, and was raised in Centerville. His father was a minister in the Churches of Christ who also worked as a barber. Starr attended Sam Houston High School in San Antonio and was a popular, straight‑A student. He was voted most likely to succeed by his classmates.[1][2]

In 1970 Starr married Alice Mendell,[3] who was raised Jewish but converted to Christianity.[4][5]


Starr first attended the Church of Christ-affiliated Delta Phi Epsilon, the national professional foreign service fraternity.[7] Starr worked for the Southwestern Company.[8] He later attended Brown University where he earned master's degree in 1969 and then went to Duke University School of Law, earning his J.D. in 1973. Starr was not drafted for military service during the Vietnam War, as he was classified 4‑F, because of a case of psoriasis.[9]

Legal career

After his graduation from Duke, Starr became first a law clerk for U.S. Circuit Judge David W. Dyer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1973–74), then for Chief Justice Warren Burger (1975–77).

He joined the Washington, D.C., office of the Los Angeles–based law firm Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher in 1977 and was appointed counselor to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith in 1981.

Federal judge and solicitor general

Official Commissioned Portrait 2007

Starr was nominated for a judgeship on George H. W. Bush.

Early 1990s

When the Senate Ethics Committee needed someone to review Republican Senator David Souter instead of Starr.[10] Starr also considered running for the United States Senate from Virginia in 1994 against incumbent Chuck Robb, but opted against opposing Oliver North for the Republican nomination.

Independent counsel


In August 1994 pursuant to the newly reauthorized Ethics in Government Act (28 U.S.C. § 593(b)), Starr was appointed by a special three-judge division of the D.C. Circuit to continue the Whitewater investigation.[11] He replaced Robert B. Fiske, a moderate Republican who had been appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno.[12] Although Starr and other independent counsels were later criticized as unaccountable and unstoppable, the statute gave the attorney general and the Special Division the authority to remove an independent counsel.

Starr took the position part-time and remained active with his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, as this was permitted by statute and was also the norm with previous independent counsel investigations.[13] As time went on, however, Starr was increasingly criticized for alleged conflicts of interest stemming from his continuing association with Kirkland & Ellis. Kirkland, like several other major law firms, was representing clients in litigation with the government, including tobacco companies and auto manufacturers. The firm itself was being sued by the Resolution Trust Company, a government agency involved in the Whitewater matter. Additionally, Starr's own actions were challenged because Starr had, on one occasion, talked with lawyers for Paula Jones, who was suing President Clinton over an alleged sexual assault. Starr had explained to them why he believed that sitting U.S. presidents are not immune to civil suit.[14]

Investigation of the death of Vince Foster

On October 10, 1997, Starr's report on the death of deputy White House counsel Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, owned by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, and Accuracy in Media, supported in part by Scaife's foundation.[16] Scaife's reporter on the Whitewater matter, Christopher Ruddy, was a frequent critic of Starr’s handling of the case.[17]

Expansion of the investigation

The law conferred broad investigative powers on Starr and the other independent counsels named to investigate the administration, including the right to subpoena nearly anyone who might have information relevant to the particular investigation. Starr would later receive authority to conduct additional investigations, including the firing of White House Travel Office personnel, potential political abuse of confidential FBI files, Madison Guaranty, Rose Law Firm, Paula Jones law suit and, most notoriously, possible perjury and obstruction of justice to cover up President Clinton's sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The Lewinsky portion of the investigation included the secret taping of conversations between Lewinsky and coworker Linda Tripp, requests by Starr to tape Lewinsky’s conversations with Clinton, and requests by Starr to compel Secret Service agents to testify about what they might have seen while guarding Clinton. With the investigation of Clinton’s possible adultery, critics of Starr believed that he had crossed a line and was acting more as a political hit man than as a prosecutor.[18][19]

Lewinsky scandal, Paula Jones lawsuit

In his deposition for the Paula Jones lawsuit, Clinton denied having “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky. On the basis of the evidence provided by Linda Tripp, a blue dress with Clinton’s semen, Ken Starr concluded that this sworn testimony was false and perjurious.

During the deposition in the Jones case, Clinton was asked, “Have you ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, as that term is defined in Deposition Exhibit 1, as modified by the Court?” The definition included contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of a person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of that person, any contact of the genitals or anus of another person, or contact of one's genitals or anus and any part of another person's body either directly or through clothing.[20][21][22] The judge ordered that Clinton be given an opportunity to review the agreed definition. Clinton flatly denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky.[23] Later, at the Starr grand jury, Clinton stated that he believed the definition of “sexual relations” agreed upon for the Jones deposition excluded his receiving oral sex.

Starr’s investigation eventually led to the impeachment of President Clinton, with whom Starr shared Time’s Man of the Year designation for 1998. Despite his impeachment, the president was acquitted in the subsequent trial before the United States Senate as all 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted to acquit.[24]

Second thoughts on DOJ request

In 2004 Starr expressed regret for ever having asked the Department of Justice to assign him to oversee the Lewinsky investigation personally, saying, “the most fundamental thing that could have been done differently” would have been for somebody else to have investigated the matter.[25]

Criticism and political satire

Starr has been the subject of criticism centered on the controversial Clinton investigation. Political commentator James Carville expressed this criticism from a humorous perspective in his book, And the Horse He Rode In On: The People v. Kenneth Starr.

Post–independent counsel activities

After five years as independent counsel, Starr resigned and returned to private practice as an appellate lawyer and a visiting professor at Kirkland & Ellis, specializing in litigation. He was one of the lead attorneys in a class-action lawsuit filed by a coalition of liberal and conservative groups (including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association) against the regulations created by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, known informally as McCain-Feingold Act. In the case, Starr argued that the law is an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech.

On April 6, 2004, he was appointed dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law. He originally accepted a position at Pepperdine as the first dean of the newly created School of Public Policy in 1996; however, he withdrew from the appointment in 1998, several months after the Lewinsky controversy erupted. Critics charged that there was a conflict of interest due to substantial donations to Pepperdine from billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a Clinton critic who funded many media outlets attacking the president. (Scaife's money, however, supported the Foster-was-murdered theory, according to CNN, and Scaife defunded The American Spectator after it endorsed Starr’s conclusion of suicide and mocked a Scaife-aided book.[16]) In 2004, some five years after President Clinton’s impeachment, Starr was again offered a Pepperdine position at the School of Law and this time accepted it.

Death penalty cases

In 2005 Starr worked to overturn the death sentence of Robin Lovitt, who was on Virginia's death row for murdering a man during a robbery in 1998. Starr provided his services to Lovitt pro bono. On October 3, 2005, the Supreme Court denied certiorari. (Lovitt was granted clemency and had his sentence commuted to life in prison without parole, on November 29, 2005, by Governor Mark Warner of Virginia.)

On January 26, 2006, the defense team of convicted murderer

Legal offices
Preceded by
George MacKinnon
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Succeeded by
Karen Henderson
Preceded by
Charles Fried
Solicitor General of the United States
Succeeded by
Drew Days
Academic offices
Preceded by
David Garland
President of Baylor University

External links

  • Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
  • Conason, Joe and Lyons, Gene (2000). The Hunting of the President. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0-312-27319-3.
  • Greenburg, Jan Crawford (2006). Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. Penguin Books, ISBN 978-1-59420-101-1.
  • Schmidt, Susan and Weisskopf, Michael (2000). Truth at Any Cost: Ken Starr and the Unmaking of Bill Clinton. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-019485-5.


  1. ^ a b Pressley, Sue Anne (1998-02-03). "Special Report: The Roots of Ken Starr's Morality Plays". Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  2. ^ Black, Jane Kenneth Starr: On the trail of the President, BBC, 1998-11-09, accessed 2009-06-25
  3. ^ Woods, Tim (2010-02-16). "Ken Starr named president of Baylor University". Waco Tribune-Herald. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  4. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark (2010-05-07). "Kenneth Starr Tries to Help Baylor Move On". New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b Ross Jr., Bobby (February 2010). "Pepperdine Law Dean Kenneth Starr named president of Baylor". Christian Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  6. ^ Manes, David M (2008-09-09). "Kenneth Starr in The Bison at Harding College". The Political Cartel Foundation. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  7. ^ "Eta Chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon". Delta Phi Epsilon. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  8. ^ Chu, Kathy (2006-07-21). "College students learn from job of hard knocks". USA Today (Gannett Co. Inc.). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  9. ^ Winerip, Michael (1998-09-06). "Ken Starr Would Not Be Denied".  
  10. ^ Greenburg, Jan Crawford (2008-01-29). Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. Penguin. pp. 89–93.  
  11. ^ In re GRAND JURY SUBPOENAS DUCES TECUM, 78 F.3d 1307 (8th Cir. 1996)
  12. ^ "Judicial Panel Names New Whitewater Independent Counsel (transcript)". ABC World News Tonight ( 
  13. ^ Starr bio on Kirkland site. See also Kirkland & Ellis LLP, accessed 2009-06-25.
  14. ^ (When this constitutional issue ultimately reached the Supreme Court, the justices unanimously agreed.)
  15. ^ "Report: Starr Rules Out Foul Play In Foster Death". All Politics (CNN). 1997-02-23. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  16. ^ a b Jackson, Brookes (1998-04-27). "Who Is Richard Mellon Scaife?". CNN. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  17. ^ Jurkowitz, Mark (1998-02-26). "THE RIGHT'S DADDY MOREBUCKS; Billionaire's cash fuels conservative journalism's fires".  
  18. ^ Lacayo, Richard and Cohen, Adam Inside Starr and His Operation, Time, Feb 9, 1998
  19. ^ Froomkin, Dan Untangling Whitewater, Washington Post, accessed 2009-06-25
  20. ^ "President Clinton's Deposition in the Paula Jones Case". Washington Post. 1998-01-17. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  21. ^ King, John (1998-05-03). "New Details Of Clinton's Jones Deposition Leaked".  
  22. ^ Hentoff, Nat (2001-01-29). "Above the law; Bill Clinton gets away with perjury (editorial)".  
  23. ^ Office of the Independent Counsel (1998-08-09). "Nature of President Clinton's Relationship with Monica Lewinsky". The Starr Report (US Government Printing Office). Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  24. ^ See Impeachment of Bill Clinton#Trial before U.S. Senate.
  25. ^ Deseret News: Starr regrets lead role in Clinton investigation. December 4, 2004.
  26. ^ Elias, Paul (2006-01-27). "Ken Starr asks governor to spare condemned killer".  
  27. ^ "SACRAMENTO / Governor turns down killer's bid for clemency / Morales running out of options as Tuesday's execution nears". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  28. ^ Sahagun, Louis (2007-08-17). "Death penalty foe gets five years in prison". Los Angeles Times. 
  29. ^ Sampson, Greg (2006-04-29). "Starr leads conservative constitutional assault on Sarbanes–Oxley oversight board".  
  30. ^ "Ken Starr to Lead Legal Challenge to the PCAOB". Accounting Web. 2006-04-05. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  31. ^ Associated Press (2006-04-05). "Starr to take on appeal over "bong" banner".  
  32. ^ Juneau School Board (2006-08-28). "PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI". On Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  33. ^ Supreme Court of the United States (2007-06-25). "MORSE ET AL. v. FREDERICK". CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  34. ^ "High Court Asked to Explore Contractor Liability for Deaths in Iraq". 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  35. ^ Egelko, Bob (2008-12-20). "Brown asks state high court to overturn Prop. 8". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  36. ^ Egelko, Bob (2009-03-05). "Justices seem to be leaning in favor of Prop. 8".  
  37. ^ Richman, Josh (2009-03-05). "California Supreme Court hears Prop. 8 arguments".  
  39. ^ "how the billionaire pedophile got off easy". Retrieved 2013-03-27. 
  40. ^ Brown, Angela K. (2010-02-16). "Ex-Clinton prosecutor Starr named Baylor president". Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas). Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  41. ^ Woods, Tim Ken Starr to meet Baylor faculty, staff, students today, Waco Tribune-Herald, 2010 June 1 (accessed 2010 June 13).
  42. ^ The Inauguration of Kenneth Winston Starr, Baylor University.
  43. ^ Woods, Tim Starr's first days: Possible Big 12 breakup hands new Baylor president an early crisis, Waco Tribune-Herald, 2010 June 13 (accessed 2010 June 13).


See also

  • First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life. Grand Central Publishing. 2002.  

Published works

The official inauguration of Ken Starr as the 14th president of Baylor University was held Friday, September 17, 2010, where Stephen L. Carter was the keynote speaker.[42] Within his first two weeks at the helm, Starr was immediately plunged into “leading the charge” to keep the university in the Big 12 Conference for athletics.[43]

Starr was Louise L. Morrison Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University, when on February 15, 2010, Baylor University announced that it would introduce Starr as its newest president.[5] Starr became Baylor’s 14th president, replacing John Lilley who was ousted in mid‑2008 (interim presidents are not counted in the list of Baylor’s presidents).[40] Starr was introduced as the new president on June 1, 2010.[41]

President of Baylor University

In 2013, Starr wrote a letter to a Fairfax County, Virginia judge in support of Christopher Kloman, a 74 year-old retired teacher at the Potomac School who pleaded guilty to molesting five female students over a period from 1966 to 1985. Starr asked the judge presiding over the case for leniency for Kloman, who is a friend of the Starr family and who "took the time to chat" with Starr's daughter, who was a student at the school until 1998. "Community service would a far better punishment than having him languish in jail," he wrote.

Support for Christopher Kloman

In 2007 Starr joined the legal team of Palm Beach millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was criminally accused of the statutory rape of numerous underaged high school students.[38] Epstein would later plea bargain to plead guilty to several charges of soliciting prostitutes and serve 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach jail.[39]

Defense of Jeffrey Epstein

The court ultimately held that the measure was valid and effective, but would not be applied retroactively to marriages performed prior to its enactment.

Starr argued that “Prop. 8 was a modest measure that left the rights of same-sex couples undisturbed under California’s domestic-partner laws and other statutes banning discrimination based on sexual orientation,” to the agreement of most of the judges.[36] The main issue that arose during the oral argument included the meaning of the word “inalienable,” and to which extent this word goes when used in Article I of the Californian Constitution. Christopher Krueger of the attorney general’s office said that inalienable rights may not be stripped away by the initiative process. Starr countered that “rights are important, but they don't go to structure . . . rights are ultimately defined by the people.”[37]

On December 19, 2008, Proposition 8 supporters named Starr to represent them in post-election lawsuits to be heard by the Supreme Court of California. Opponents of the measure sought to overturn it as a violation of fundamental rights, while supporters sought to invalidate the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in the state before Proposition 8 passed.[35] Oral arguments took place on March 5, 2009, in San Francisco.

California Proposition 8 post-election lawsuits

Starr continues to represent Blackwater in a case involving the deaths of four unarmed civilians killed by Blackwater contractors in Fallujah, Iraq, in March 2004.[34]

Blackwater Security Consulting v. Nordan (No. 06-857)

On May 4, 2006, Starr announced that he would represent the school board of Juneau, Alaska, in its appeal to the United States Supreme Court in a case brought by a former student, Joseph Frederick. The former student unfurled a banner at a school sponsored event saying “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” as the Olympic torch was passing through Juneau, prior to arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The board decided to suspend the student. The student then sued and won at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which stated that the board violated the student’s first amendment right to free speech.[31] On August 28, 2006, Starr filed a writ of certiorari for a hearing with the Supreme Court.[32] On June 21, 2007, in an opinion authored by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, the court ruled in favor of Starr’s client, finding that “a principal may, consistent with the First Amendment, restrict student speech at a school event, when that speech is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use.”[33]

Morse v. Frederick

Ken Starr announced that he would challenge the portion of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act that gives authority to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).[29][30]



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