|Born||Paula Rosalee Corbin
September 17, 1966
Lonoke, Arkansas, United States
|Occupation||Civil servant, centerfold, reality television personality|
Paula Corbin Jones (born Paula Rosalee Corbin; September 17, 1966) is a former Arkansas state employee who sued U.S. President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment. Clinton entered into an out-of-court settlement, agreeing to pay Jones and her attorneys a total of $850,000, before the lawsuit was dismissed pre-trial on the grounds that Jones failed to demonstrate damages.
The Paula Jones case precipitated Clinton's impeachment. Charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were brought against Clinton based on statements he made during the depositions for the Jones lawsuit. The specific statements were about the nature of his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, with whom he denied having a sexual relationship.
Jones v. Clinton
According to Jones's account, on May 8, 1991, she was escorted to Clinton's (then Governor of Arkansas) room in the Excelsior (now Peabody) Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he propositioned and exposed himself to her. She claimed she kept quiet about the incident until 1994, when a David Brock story in the American Spectator magazine, printed an account. Jones filed a sexual harassment suit against Clinton on May 6, 1994, two days prior to the 3-year statute of limitations, and sought $750,000 in damages.
Jones was initially represented by Gilbert Davis and Joseph Cammarata, two Washington, D.C.-area lawyers. Susan Carpenter-McMillan, a California conservative commentator, became her press spokesperson. Carpenter-McMillan wasted no time in using the press to attack Clinton to a much greater degree, calling him "un-American", a "liar", and a "philanderer" on Meet the Press, Crossfire, Equal Time, Larry King Live, Today, The Geraldo Rivera Show, Burden of Proof, Hannity & Colmes, Talkback Live, and other shows. "I do not respect a man who cheats on his wife, and exposes his penis to a stranger", she said.
Judge Susan Webber Wright granted President Clinton's motion for summary judgment, ruling that Jones could not show that she had suffered any damages. As to the claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, Wright ruled that Jones failed to show that Clinton's actions constituted "outrageous conduct" as required of the tort alongside not showing proof of damages caused by distress. Jones appealed the dismissal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, where, at oral argument, two of the three judges on the panel appeared sympathetic to her arguments.
Clinton and his defense team then challenged Jones's right to bring a civil lawsuit against a sitting president for an incident that occurred prior to the defendant's becoming president. The Clinton defense team took the position that the trial should be delayed until the president was no longer in office, because the job of the president is unique and does not allow him to take time away from it to deal with a private civil lawsuit. The case went through the courts, eventually reaching the Supreme Court on January 13, 1997. On May 27, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Clinton, and allowed the lawsuit to proceed. Clinton dismissed Jones's story and agreed to move on with the lawsuit.
On August 29, 1997, Jones's attorneys Gilbert Davis and Joseph Cammarata asked to resign from the case believing the settlement offer they had secured, which Jones refused, was the appropriate way to end the case. In September, Judge Wright accepted their request.
Jones was then represented by the Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal organization, and by a Dallas law firm. Carpenter-McMillan continued to serve as Jones's spokesperson. In December 1997, Jones reduced the damages sought in her suit against Clinton to $525,000 and agreed to remove Danny Ferguson from the suit.
On April 2, 1998, before the case could reach trial, Judge Susan Webber Wright granted President Clinton's motion for dismissal, ruling that Jones could not show that she had suffered any damages. Jones soon appealed the dismissal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Conclusion of case
On November 13, 1998, Clinton settled with Jones for $850,000, the entire amount of her claim, but without an apology, in exchange for her agreement to drop the appeal. Robert S. Bennett, Clinton's attorney, still maintained that Jones's claim was baseless and that Clinton only settled so he could end the lawsuit and move on with his life. In March 1999, Judge Wright ruled that Jones would only get $200,000 from the settlement and that the rest of the money would pay for her legal expenses.
Before the end of the entire litigation, her marriage broke apart. She also appeared in the news media to show the results of a makeover by Daniel C. DiCriscio and a nose job paid for by a donor.
In April 1999, Judge Wright found Clinton in civil contempt of court for misleading testimony in the Jones case. She ordered Clinton to pay $1,202 to the court and an additional $90,000 to Jones's lawyers for expenses incurred, far less than the $496,000 that the lawyers originally requested.
Wright then referred Clinton's conduct to the Arkansas Bar for disciplinary action, and on January 19, 2001, the day before Clinton left the office of president, he entered into an agreement with the Arkansas Bar and Independent Counsel Robert Ray under which Clinton was stripped of his license to practice law in Arkansas for a period of five years. His fine was paid from a fund raised for his legal expenses.
Lewinsky scandal connection
Jones's lawyers decided to show to the court a pattern of behavior by Clinton that involved his allegedly repeatedly becoming sexually involved with state or government employees. Jones's lawyers therefore subpoenaed women they suspected Clinton had had affairs with, one of whom was Monica Lewinsky. In his deposition for the Jones lawsuit, Clinton denied having "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky. Based on testimony provided by Linda Tripp, which identified the existence of a blue dress with Clinton's semen on it, Kenneth 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 judge ordered that Clinton be given an opportunity to review the definition. It said that "a person engages in sexual relations when the person knowingly engages in or causes contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person". Clinton flatly denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky. 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. It was upon the basis of this statement that the perjury charges in his impeachment were drawn up. Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on December 19, 1998, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. But despite Republican control of the Senate, Republicans were unable to muster the required two-thirds supermajority to convict, with only 45 senators voting guilty on the perjury charge and 50 on the obstruction charge.
Life following the Clinton lawsuit
Jones's legal fund did not cover the attorneys' fees, and Jones's personal life was disrupted during the controversy: she was divorced by her husband, purchased a house after the settlement, and incurred a large tax bill. She then posed nude for Penthouse, stating that she would use the money to pay taxes and fund her two grade-school-aged children's college education. This caused her to be publicly denounced as "trailer-park trash" by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.
- Juanita Broaddrick, aka Jane Doe #5 in Jones's lawsuit
- Gennifer Flowers
- Kathleen Willey
- Monica Lewinsky
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- Paula Jones at the Internet Movie Database