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September 1, 2017
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v2.1 Reference

The Goldmark Case

An American Libel Trial

In 1962 John Goldmark, cattle rancher, Harvard Law School graduate, and distinguished three-term state legislator for a lightly populated area in north central Washington, was overwhelmingly defeated in his bid for reelection. He and his wife, Sally, had been accused of being communists by a small group of right-wing extremists. The Goldmarks sued their accusers for libel and when their case came to trial in the winter of 1963-64 it has become a cause celebre throughout the country.

Witnesses of national reputation crossed the country to testify, the eastern press covered the case, and issues of civil liberties, the communist challenge to the values of American society, and the radical right movement were fought out before a rural jury. The charge that the American Civil Liberties Union was a communist front, among other issues, was litigated for the first time. Today the Goldmark trial can still tell us much about democracy, civil liberties, and trial by jury.

William Dwyer was the Goldmarks' chief counsel. His gripping story of their nightmare and ultimate vindication is a classic of American trial court history. He provides a vivid picture of the political climate and its effect on everyone involved—plaintiffs, defendants, and counsel for both sides. In addition he gives us a fascinating description of the courtroom drama itself, revealed in the extensively quoted testimony, and a fascinating account of the way trial lawyers plan the strategy of a case: from jury selection, the questioning and cross-examination of witnesses, to final arguments.

About the Author

William L. Dwyer (1929-2002) served as U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Washington from 1987 to 2002. He was a past president of the Seattle King County Bar Association, member of the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association, and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. His books include In the Hands of the People and Ipse Dixit.


"Bill Dwyer's book deals with a landmark in the legal and the political history of the state of Washington. Most important, it tells the tragic and triumphant story of one of Washington's most interesting political leaders, John Goldmark. And it does so in a narrative which is both beautifully crafted and compelling."—Slade Gorton, United States Senator
University of Washington Press

9780295994864 : the-goldmark-case-dwyer
Paperback / softback
304 Pages
$30.00 USD

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