Kenneth Starr

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(Redirected from Kenneth W. Starr)

Kenneth Winston Starr (born July 21, 1946 in Vernon, Texas) is an American lawyer and former judge who was appointed to the Office of the Independent Counsel to investigate the Whitewater land transactions by President Bill Clinton. He later submitted to Congress the Starr Report, which led to Clinton's impeachment on charges arising from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.


Early life

Kenneth Starr was born in Vernon, Texas in 1946, the son of a Protestant minister and part time barber. He first attended Harding University but transferred to George Washington University where he received his B.A. He later attended Brown University (M.A) and Duke University (J.D.). After his graduation from Duke, he became a clerk for then-Chief Justice Warren Burger. He then worked as an attorney for several years in Los Angeles before returning to Washington, D.C. to serve as a councelor to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith in 1981.

Pre-Independent Counsel activities

Prior to his appointment as Independent Counsel, Starr had been a federal judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals from 1983 to 1989 and was United States Solicitor General from 1989 to 1993 under President George H. W. Bush. As a judge, Starr was respected by both political parties and was considered to be a moderate conservative with a broad view of freedom of the press. Before his tenure as independent counsel, he was often mentioned as a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee. Kenneth Starr was also involved with the investigation of William Jefferson Clinton.

Time as Independent Counsel

In 1994 Starr was appointed by a three-judge panel to continue the Whitewater investigation, replacing Robert Fiske, who had been specially appointed by the Attorney General prior to the re-enactment of the Independent Counsel law. His powers were very broad, and he was given the right to subpoena nearly anyone he felt may have information relevant to the scandal.

Though his judicial reputation earned him initial popularity in the investigation, Starr's service soon turned controversial, especially after his powers were further expanded to investigate the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. Republicans saw him as incompetent and too trusting of the president. Democrats saw him as a repressed political zealot on a mission to remove Clinton. This controversy threatened to turn the prosecutor into the prosecuted when Starr's office acknowledged that it had leaked grand jury testimony in violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e). Starr later regretted his role in the Lewinsky investigation, saying "the most fundamental thing that could have been done differently" would have been for somebody else to have investigated the matter.[1] (

Post-Independent Counsel activities

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

On April 6, 2004, he was appointed dean of Pepperdine University's School of Law. He originally accepted this post in 1996, however he gave up the appointment in 1998 after a 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. However, once the investigation was behind him, Starr was appointed to the original post in 2004.

Also in 2003, Starr said he never should have been involved with the Lewinsky matter and the investigation should have focused on Whitewater. [2] (

As of March 2005, Starr was working to overturn the death sentence of Robin Lovitt, who is on Virginia's Death Row for allegedly murdering a man during a robbery in 1998. Starr is providing his services to Lovitt pro bono.

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