Jury selection starts in suit against Liddy

January 17, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Jury selection in the $5.1 million defamation lawsuit against G. Gordon Liddy began yesterday with U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz delivering a brief synopsis of the 1972 burglary that brought down a president.

"I assume that some of you have heard of Watergate," Motz said.

Liddy, the convicted Watergate conspirator who is host of a conservative talk show, is being sued by a Louisiana woman who claims that Liddy falsely told audiences that she was a madam for a Democratic National Committee call-girl ring.

Ida "Maxie" Wells, who was a young DNC secretary in 1972 and is now a college English instructor, contends that Liddy damaged her reputation by promulgating a theory that the call-girl ring was the true target of the Watergate break-in. In her lawsuit, Wells denies the allegations.

The trial, expected to last up to four weeks in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, will mark the first time a jury has been asked to weigh the possible motives behind the 1972 break-in at DNC headquarters - a detail that was eclipsed in the early 1970s by the subsequent cover-up by the White House and the downfall of President Richard M. Nixon.

Nine jurors were picked to hear the case. Opening statements are scheduled for this morning.

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