HOUSTON, TX.--In her new book, Sex Appealed, a Texas judge documents why she concludes that a landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down anti sodomy laws was based on pre arranged arrests staged to test the constitutionality of Texas' law.
The non fiction book, her first, is subtitled Was the U.S. Supreme Court Fooled?
The controversial 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court ruling favoring the defendants in the landmark case is the trigger event kicking away roadblocks to gay marriage. Lawrence v. Texas remains in headlines today in a larger cultural war over adoption, employee benefits, the military's Don't- Ask, Don't -Tell policy, and related issues of judicial activism.
WASHINGTON, D.C. Hearst columnist and grande dame of Washington political journalism Helen Thomas with Judge Janice Law at the National Press Club.
The author, Judge Janice Law, is a former journalist. Lawrence v. Texas, was assigned to her Houston, Texas criminal court in 1998 shortly before she took her bench. "Rumors circulated immediately in the Harris County, Texas courthouse that the arrests were a set up, that the defendants invited their arrest," Judge Law said. The Supreme Court based its historic decision on right to privacy.
"If the set up were known during the case's five year appeal journey from my court, then the defendants would not have a right to privacy claim, and the U.S. Supreme Court may never have heard the case, or may have decided it differently", Judge Law explained.
After the high court's reverberant ruling, she decided to investigate the still lingering set up rumors. By then she was a visiting judge, sitting for judges who are on vacation or ill. She interviewed everyone from denizens of Houston's gay bars, to the defendants' New York attorneys whose dazzling brilliance was acknowledged even by their opponents.
In Sex Appealed, Judge Law weaves a non fiction narrative of sex, jealousy, betrayal, ambition, political maneuvering, and murder. Judge Law's dogged research uncovered another mystery, the 2000 unsolved murder of one of the witnesses to the sodomy arrests, a talkative drunk who was beaten to death as the controversial cases pended a crucial ruling from a Houston -based appeals court. His homicide remains unsolved: a genuine whodunit. There is no statute of limitations on homicide prosecutions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. Judge Janice Law meets fellow columnist/author Art Buchwald during the annual Book & Author Night sponsored by the National Press Club where their books were featured. L-R: Don Jansen, Art Buchwald, Judge Janice Law; Debra Griffin, Judge Law's former court coordinator.
"I researched and wrote Sex Appealed because I know many of the Lawrence participants, I had the time, contacts, and the journalistic background to investigate, and, as a lawyer and judge, I felt an obligation to history to find out what really happened behind the scenes in one of the most culture-altering cases in America's legal history," Judge Law said. "I am the judge who, after the internationally publicized case was concluded at the highest level, embarked on her own investigation of rumors about the case assigned to her Texas court," she added.
The defendants and their Houston and New York attorneys have consistently denied rumors that the 1998 arrests of Tyron(c.q.) Garner and John Lawrence were manufactured for the purpose of litigation.
"My conclusion that the arrests were invited will be debated for years by all factions,"she added. Stanford University journalism professor, the late Dr. William L. Rivers, in his book The Mass Media , 2nd edition (Harper & Row) wrote of Janice Law's investigative journalism ability: "Law's stories make it clear that she is among the ablest fact gatherers in American journalism, fully capable of teaching other journalists how to root out fact, how to bring to light hidden significances. Law reported facts as a perceptive political reporter does..."