Oral History of Carol Garfiel Freeman
Fourth Interview
October 18, 2021
Jodi Avergun: This is Jodi Avergun:. I’m meeting with Carol Freeman: at her apartment
in Chevy Chase, Maryland, for our fourth oral history session.
Carol Freeman: Oh, you’re not visual?
Jodi Avergun: No, this is all. We’re just using this as a tape recorder.
Carol Freeman: OK. Since I am now back in Maryland, I was able to find out some of the
information I didn’t have before.
Jodi Avergun: OK.
Carol Freeman: First of all, I found cards from when I was in the U.S. Attorney’s office.
For some reason, these made it through the dissolution of our house when
we moved to an apartment. I had, as an AUSA, ninety-seven trials, which
did not include uncontested pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity. Most
of these people were found guilty. One interesting footnote, I talked the last
time about a sex abuse trial I had had when I was a private attorney, of a
man, a little old man, who was accused of fondling little girls, and he was
found not guilty. Well, his name turns out to be one letter different – I didn’t
mention the name – one letter different from the name of a man I prosecuted
who was sentenced under the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act. Probably
not the same person, but I thought that was really an odd coincidence.
In 1995, I seem to have made a list of the Appellate Division’s appellate
opinions in which I was listed as an attorney. There were eighty-three by
1995. Eighty-three published appellate opinions, probably some of them
where I was the trial attorney, and six were cases that I argued as a private
lawyer, which included the Manville case – that was the one about the
admission to the bar of a man who’d been convicted of manslaughter. I also
remembered that I had petitioned for cert. in only one case. ( Actually I did
it in another case and cert was denied.) But in this case, I had had a case
from the D.C. Court of Appeals where the issue was whether the police had
probable cause to stop a car and search it and find a gun. A citizen had
reported that the driver of this car had a gun. The question was whether the
government had submitted sufficient evidence of the credibility of the
witness, the citizen who said the man in the car had the gun. The D.C. Court
of Appeals affirmed, Judge Gallagher dissenting. Well, on my cert. petition,
Justice Douglas would have granted cert. on that issue, which I thought was
a bit of a victory.
Jodi Avergun: Yes.
Carol Freeman: To correct a few things, I had said that in Manville, we had assumed that
there probably was somebody arguing against admission, and I found that I
have the material here.
Jodi Avergun: Nice.
Carol Freeman: I saved the Court’s opinion and the decision that I wrote for the committee.
The Court appointed an amicus, and the D.C. bar submitted an amicus brief,
apparently approving admission. I’m not sure what the amicus… well, there
was somebody who submitted a statement in opposition to the brief of the
amicus. Anyway, that’s a footnote there.
Jodi Avergun: I just want to add after this transcript that Carol has an actual slip sheet on
paper that they used to publish slip sheets on, and three-hole punched, and
she has–
Carol Freeman: the report of the committee on admissions.
Jodi Avergun: –a typed, you know, a real typewriter on typewriter paper, a report of the
DC bar committee. So what year is this from, Carol?
Jodi Avergun: 1988.
Carol Freeman: Also I said that it was Judge Nebeker who had dissented, and said that his
friend Judge Terry agreed. Actually, it was Judge Terry who said that, who
dissented, who said that Judge Nebeker, who had retired before the opinion
came out, had agreed with Judge Terry, and would have dissented. Both of
them are very good friends. I think I’ve mentioned before that Frank
Nebeker was a mentor of mine, I’ve–
Jodi Avergun: Yup.
Carol Freeman: –seen him many, many times in the succeeding time. Anyway–
Jodi Avergun: Let’s get the name spelling right, while we’re here.
Carol Freeman: N-E-B-E-K-E-R. I will go over the transcript.
Jodi Avergun: OK.
Carol Freeman: So I wanted to answer some of those questions.
Jodi Avergun: Yeah.
Carol Freeman: We left off last time after I talked about the Leake case – L-E-A-K-E –
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: Which is the man who took hostages in the Kensington Temple of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I reviewed my files and I came
up with some more cases that might be worth mentioning, some of which
were when I was with the Public Defender’s Office, some of which were
court-appointed afterwards, and I suppose one or more of them might have
been retained, I’m not sure. One of the more interesting cases was the case
of the young woman, probably age 18, who was living with her boyfriend’s
family, became pregnant, didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant, and gave
birth to the baby in the bathroom of the house and then put it in a garbage
can outside. The baby survived, and later was adopted, but the young
woman didn’t remember a lot about being pregnant, giving birth, and what
she had done with the baby, so we had to engage a hypnotist, who
hypnotized her to bring back her memories so that we could enter a plea.
She pleaded guilty to child abuse, and was placed on probation, so–
Jodi Avergun: So you were defending her…
Carol Freeman: I was defending her. These were all defense cases.
Jodi Avergun: OK.
Carol Freeman: That was definitely in the Public Defender’s Office, and I had a co-counsel
who was a former DC police officer whom I had known. He was a
motorcycle officer. I don’t want to mention names–
Jodi Avergun: Sure.
Carol Freeman: –in some of these. Anyway that was an interesting case.
Jodi Avergun: Yes.
Carol Freeman: I had several other clients who had mental issues. One of the saddest ones
was a boy, from the rural Montgomery County area, who was severely
retarded… severely mentally deficient…
Jodi Avergun: OK.
Carol Freeman: …and he was accused of, and probably did, light some barns on fire. He
couldn’t get bail, and it was so sad, he used to call me up from the jail and
say “I did good, Ms. Freeman, I took a shower,” and it took me nine months
or more to persuade the Assistant State’s Attorney–who was a very good
prosecutor–that this guy really was mentally deficient…
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: He claimed he had taken the cows out of the barn before he set it on fire,
but there were no cows in the barns.
Carol Freeman: We finally persuaded the prosecution to agree that he was not competent to
stand trial and he was released to an appropriate facility. But before that
happened somebody in the community got word of him and wrote outraged
letters to the local paper about how the defense counsel wasn’t doing
anything, this man was kept in jail, and the Public Defender had to write a
letter saying not true, it’s the prosecutor’s fault–
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: That was an interesting case. I felt sorry for the guy.
Jodi Avergun: Yeah.
Carol Freeman: Very sad.
And then there was a woman, a Hispanic woman, who was living as a
housekeeper in the basement of a house near Churchill High School. They
allowed her to have her young son live with her. She developed some
serious mental disorders and ended up knifing the daughter, who was a
teenager at the time, causing serious but not life-threatening injury. I
represented her with an Assistant Public Defender who was Spanishspeaking,
and we ended up with a trial in which she was found guilty but
not criminally responsible. She ultimately, I think, did get out of Perkins,
the mental hospital, on conditional release. But I’ve lost track, as I
mentioned before, I’ve lost track of a lot of these people.
Jodi Avergun: Sure.
Carol Freeman: There were a few repeat clients that I had, mainly women with serious drug
addictions. Sometimes I was able to get them into Second Genesis or
another program, sometimes I wasn’t. But they would keep coming back.
They were not young people at this time, they were middle-aged women.
There was one young woman who got into a fight at a house and ended up
stabbing one of the people to death. We had a good trial with her. She was
found not guilty, self-defense. I felt good about that one.
Jodi Avergun: Sure.
Carol Freeman: There were some other murder cases where the people were guilty. There
was one case of a man who was accused of burning or setting fire to his
house where his wife was sleeping. That got me into research on arson and
arson investigation. Very interesting. I ended up not going to trial with that
one because the Public Defender thought I was spending too much money
– this is the State Public Defender, not my friend Ted Wieseman – thought
I was spending too much money on expert opinions, and they decided that
this client was not qualified for the Public Defender.
Jodi Avergun: Wow.
Carol Freeman: So he did have another lawyer, who had a trial and he was found not guilty.
But I think part of that was because I had already done–
Jodi Avergun: The research.
Carol Freeman: –all the research and gotten an arson investigator as a witness. Interesting
Then there was a very sad case of a woman who had a diabetic son about
age twelve, and she belonged to a church that believed in prayer over
medicine. She had taken her son to a doctor who had prescribed insulin. But
one day, with the support of members of her church, she prayed rather than
giving him insulin and he died. The county found indicated child neglect
which she appealed. She didn’t like my opinion that she might be found
guilty of manslaughter and perhaps murder so she fired me (this was not a
PD case) and retained another lawyer. I don’t know what happened
ultimately. That was a sad case, because the boy could have lived if they
had just treated him, given him insulin.
Jodi Avergun: Seems parallel to things that are going on today, doesn’t it?
Carol Freeman: Yeah.
Jodi Avergun: Yeah.
Carol Freeman: I had one nice case, a teacher at the Muslim school, an older man, well, I
was going to say in his fifties, because most of the clients were in their
twenties or thirties.
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: He was accused of tweaking a student’s ear. I presented all sorts of
character witnesses for him. That was a “not guilty” verdict in twenty
minutes. That was a nice case.
I could go on and on because I’ve got pages and pages and pages, but there
were people in robbery cases, drug cases, murder cases, simple theft cases.
Jodi Avergun: Did you have any…
Carol Freeman: A lot of interesting people.
Jodi Avergun: …white collar cases?
Carol Freeman: Not really.
Jodi Avergun: Like frauds…
Carol Freeman: Not serious white collar.
Jodi Avergun: They seem to have some money to pay.
Carol Freeman: Exactly.
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: By the winter, the fall of 1989, I’d been at the Public Defender’s Office for
seven years. My father had died and I had some estate matters to deal with.
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: We decided it was time – I decided it was time to leave the Public
Defender’s Office.
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: So I left and I resumed private practice, sharing space with Paul DeWolfe –
D-E, capital W-O-L-F-E – who had been an Assistant Public Defender
when I was in the PD’s office, but he had left the Office somewhat earlier,
I think. So we shared space generally from 1989 until 1998, where I left
private practice, we’ll go into that later.
I had a general practice, mostly criminal, including a lot of appeals in the
DC Court of Appeals, some domestic cases. One involved an adoption by
a non-parent, which was more of a paternity case, because the – and I
certainly am not giving names here – the woman, who was a teacher, had
become pregnant by a high school senior. My client, a man, a government
employee, had met her while she was pregnant, took care of her, they got
married, and the teenager had shown no interest in the baby until they
sought to have my client adopt him or her. Then he showed an interest. So
it involved depositions and other issues. That ended up with a settlement.
That was interesting, that was basically a civil case.
I had several CINA cases, “Child In Need of Assistance” cases – in juvenile
court, where – I had a lot of them – where usually men were accused of
abuse – how do I put this? I haven’t looked at the details of all of them, but
they were not very pleasant cases. I had one long-ranging divorce case
where I represented a man who was another government employee. I don’t
know if this is appropriate to say, but I would probably rather represent a
guilty person in a murder case than somebody in a contested divorce case.
They are awful, because as a lawyer, as a person, I can see what should
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: But you can’t make the client do what should happen.
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: Or the other party’s client do what should happen. They’re fighting over
children, they’re fighting over access, awful, awful cases.
There were some estate matters that I handled for a friend, and for family
members. Then I had some civil cases. One was a case involving – this
may or may not reveal names, which I don’t want to do.
Jodi Avergun: Sure. We can review the transcript after and you can see if it reveals too
Carol Freeman: I’m not going to use a name.
Jodi Avergun: Sure.
Carol Freeman: But this was a person who had access to the facility at the Montgomery
Aquatic Center. He was accused of spying on girls undressing themselves,
changing their clothes – through a camera, not through a hole in the wall.
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: And he was charged criminally. That case was dismissed because it was not
a crime then.
Jodi Avergun: I’m shocked.
Carol Freeman: The Maryland legislature subsequently enacted a statute making that
criminal. But the case did end up in an equal employment opportunity case,
an EEOC case in the federal court, with related state law claims such as
invasion of privacy, where one girl who was spied on sued the county and
my client in federal court. So that was interesting, because we got into some
civil depositions and ultimately settled that. The county went to trial and
the plaintiff won substantial damages.
Then I had another case where Paul and I were co-counsel. A three-yearold
girl was in a daycare center, and it appeared that she may have been
abused by one of the daycare workers. That ended up in a hotly contested
civil case in state court, depositions, discovery, all sorts of things like that.
That ultimately was settled.
Then I had a case where a – not your law firm – but a woman who was
employed by another one of the prominent law firms was fired, and she
claimed it was because she had multiple sclerosis. That also ended up in
discovery and depositions – I think we had depositions – and that also was
settled. That’s why my son calls himself a litigator and not a trial lawyer.
I call myself a trial lawyer because most of what I did was trials.
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: He calls himself a litigator because hardly ever does he go to trial.
The last client I specifically remember from that period of my life was a
man who had filed a post-conviction claim with Judge Mize in the Superior
Court, claiming that he had gotten ineffective assistance of counsel. Judge
Mize picked my name out of a hat – I didn’t know him before – and he
appointed me. With the help of an investigator, we did a lot of research, we
went to the area, we took pictures, and investigated the officers involved,
and showed that they were lying. They could not have seen the drug deal
that they claimed they saw. So Judge Mize vacated the conviction, and the
man went home. That was nice. Judge Mize wrote a very nice opinion
which I hope is in a box that I hope to find downstairs. It isn’t in the box
that I brought upstairs. [I found it in another box.] But that was a nice way
to sort of end up.
Jodi Avergun: Happy to help you find it easily. Carol, how do you spell Mize?
Carol Freeman: M-I-Z-E.
Jodi Avergun: M-I-Z-E? And what case, it was Superior Court?
Carol Freeman: Superior Court.
Jodi Avergun: How did you – can I, can I ask a question – how did you research the
officers, it was before the internet, I assume. So what were some research
Carol Freeman: Oh, I may have, I think I must have contacted the PDS people – the Public
Defenders’ Office.
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: Or I talked to other lawyers and I found that there had been complaints about
the man and the government didn’t want to reveal his personnel report –
personnel file, and we had some litigation about that, I think –
Jodi Avergun: Right.
Carol Freeman: – or there were discussions about that. But what was significant was that I
went out with the investigator, it had to do with an… OK… Here is… here’s
the house.
Jodi Avergun: Mhmm.
Carol Freeman: Here’s an alley.
Jodi Avergun: Mhmm.
Carol Freeman: Here’s across the street.
Jodi Avergun: Mhmm.
Carol Freeman: It’s one of these row houses.
Jodi Avergun: Mhmm.
Carol Freeman: It’s up from the curb, and there, there’s an area before you get up to the
Jodi Avergun: OK.
Carol Freeman: The officer was in the alley over here and claimed to have seen my client
on the steps give drugs to somebody else. Well, we took pictures, it was
physically impossible, it couldn’t have been seen. I went out, and I talked,
I talked to the family, I went into their house and visited with them, nice
people. And I felt good about that.
The other thing that happened during that nine-year period, and I don’t want
to go into details – on several occasions I was nominated for a Maryland
district court judgeship. I was not appointed.
Jodi Avergun: Mhmm.
Carol Freeman: That’s OK.
Jodi Avergun: Yeah.
Carol Freeman: In the summer of 1998, in one of the legal periodicals I saw an ad for an
attorney for the pro se unit of the U.S. District Court. It wanted somebody
with some experience who knew something about criminal law and civil
law, and it was to assist the judges. I thought “that looks like something I
could do.” I applied, and I was appointed. At the time there were – there
were originally – at that point, three attorneys in the pro se unit. One of
them had left, and it was her position that I was going to take. These are
people I can name. One was Addie, A-D-D-I-E, Hailstorks,
H-A-I-L-S-T-O-R-K-S, there was Mike Zoeller, Z-O-E-L-L-E-R, and the
judges on the appointment committee had me go down and talk with them
before they appointed me, probably to find out if Addie and Mike thought
they could get along with me, because it’s a very small unit.
Jodi Avergun: Sure.
Carol Freeman: I will say the woman who left remains friends of the group and we have
lunch every six months or so. We actually had a Zoom lunch last fall.
Jodi Avergun: Mhmm.
Carol Freeman: I’m trying to figure out if we can meet in person this fall. But nobody’s,
they’re not going back to their office yet. Mike left and became a federal
government attorney. I think his place was taken by Michelle Singletery,
S-I-N-G-LE-T-E-R-Y. So for a long time, Addie, Michelle and I were the
unit. We still are in touch, even though I left there in 2004. That was a very
nice position.
Jodi Avergun: Mhmm.
Carol Freeman: Interestingly, I started off as a law clerk to a federal judge in New York, and
I ended up as a senior law clerk to a bunch of federal judges in DC. I thought
that was very symmetrical. My responsibilities were, of course, more
significant when I ended up, because I was an experienced attorney at that
point. But we worked very closely with all the U.S. District Court judges,
some of whom I knew before, some of whom I didn’t know before. They
were all very fine judges, and very fine people, and it was really a pleasure
and an honor to be working with them.
What did we do? We did not handle post-conviction cases, 28 U.S.C. 2255s,
even though that technically, I think they’re civil cases. We would handle
the in forma pauperis applications by people who wanted to proceed
without prepayment of fees. These were, these could be interesting. There
were a lot of petitions by people with serious mental issues. I actually did
screen a petition by somebody who said that the CIA had planted
transmitters in her teeth. Really.
Christmas one year, right before Christmas, somebody wanted the President
to extend a force field over the United States because something awful was
going to happen. Needless to say, we had a little semi-form order, opinion
that we would draft up granting the IFP, but dismissing the complaint as not
warranting federal intervention.
Some of them were more meritorious, there were employment cases, there
were Freedom of Information Act cases. I’ll get to the prisoners’ Civil
Rights Act cases later, in a few minutes. There was one man who, I forget
what his issue was… had to, may have had to do with parental leave, but he
had a daughter – he worked for the Post Office – and he had a daughter who
suffered from a very, very serious genetic disease, and I forget what his
issue was, but it was a sad case, because he was, he claimed he was not
being treated properly by the government. Probably had to do with leave,
or something.
Anyway, so we reviewed these IFP applications, some of which were
handwritten, some of which were typed. We would either grant – we’d
almost always grant the IFP, and sometimes we would dismiss the case
immediately. If we did not dismiss the case immediately we would
authorize the clerk to issue summonses to the defendants. When I say “we”
– we would prepare Orders which we would then bring to a judge to sign.
We didn’t sign them. After these summonses were served, the defendants
very often would come in with a motion to dismiss or for summary
judgement. There was a form order that we would issue to the plaintiff,
giving him or her a certain amount of time to respond to the motion, or the
motion would be granted. Most of the time they came in with some sort of
a response. Then we’d review the papers, decide whether there was a triable
issue – first of all, whether the complaint stated a valid claim under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or whether summary judgement should
be granted. Most of the time we would draft an opinion granting the motion
to dismiss or for summary judgement. Sometimes, we denied the motions,
and in those cases we would recommend appointment of counsel. When I
say “we do this.”
Jodi Avergun: Right, you mean the people who, are, right, the judges sign–
Carol Freeman: It’s assumed the judge signs it.
Jodi Avergun: Right. Like every law clerk. You do your drafting, the judge signs.
Carol Freeman: I will say there were, most of the time, most of the judges would sign what
we gave them. Sometimes, they would make a few changes. I remember
one discussion I had with Judge Kessler, where I would have granted a
motion to dismiss, she didn’t want to do that. So we had some serious legal
discussions about how we could avoid dismissing the case. Usually, our
understanding – and I say “our” but I only really have personal knowledge
of mine, but I assume, since my colleagues are still there, that the judges
agree, most of the time, our understanding of the law turns out to be correct.
Or at least, the judges agreed with us. So, we then, if the case survived a
dispositive motion, we would recommend appointment of counsel for the
pro se plaintiff and there is a body of lawyers, a stable of lawyers who
agreed to accept these appointments, and we’d appoint a lawyer for the
plaintiff, and it would go into general civil proceedings. That’s what
happened in – I think – I talked the last time, or maybe the first time, about
the Lawrence Caldwell case, where he had lawyers from the National Prison
Project, and went to trial and received 174 thousand dollars or something,
from the city for really bad maltreatment at the District’s local prison,
Lorton. Now, it may be that the Prison Project found him, or he found the
Prison Project before, but occasionally one of these cases would go to trial.
I think that’s the only one I had that went to trial but I know some of my
colleagues had cases that went to trial. So that was good. We did justice
Jodi Avergun: Did you stay involved, once another counsel was appointed?
Carol Freeman: Yeah, because they would file a motion or have discovery issues that had to
be ruled on. Most cases then settled.
Jodi Avergun: So you remained the law clerk, the staff in that office remained as the law
clerk for the case, whether or not there was counsel. OK.
Carol Freeman: It didn’t go back to chambers.
Jodi Avergun: Got it.
Carol Freeman: OK. There were cases I didn’t mention before that were prisoners Civil
Rights Act cases (42 U.S.C. 1983). We had a lot of them, and one
interesting part of that was that I learned a lot about conditions in prison.
Because although for thirty-five, or what, thirty-eight years I’d been either
sending people to prison or saving them, trying to save them from prison, I
didn’t know much about conditions in prison. There are really very bad
conditions in most prisons. These were federal prisons, usually. I mean,
they, the prisoners were not well treated by the prison staff. Unfortunately,
after – I forget which year – Lorton closed at one point, all the DC prisoners
were sent around the country. The prisoners would file the Civil Rights Act
cases in the federal court in D.C. but at that point we needed to transfer the
cases. We almost always we would not dismiss cases of prisoners’ civil
rights issues but we’d have to transfer them to the state where the prisoner
was incarcerated because you needed to get personal jurisdiction over the
guard or the correctional officer who had committed the impropriety and at
that point the position became somewhat less interesting because I liked the
prisoner cases because these are people I had dealt with. I’m trying to think,
I think once, there was one case where somebody appeared who I had
represented at one point. I think that’s the case. Usually it wasn’t somebody
that I knew but it was somebody who I could have known.
Jodi Avergun: I’m just getting out a charger.
Carol Freeman: I kept out an opinion in one case which was not a prisoner Civil Rights Act
case. This is a case I had with Judge Friedman, Paul Friedman, called
Warren v. United States. This was a case involving guano. Bird poop. The
opinion is at 234 F.3d 1331 (D.C.Cir. 2000). I read this over last night.
There’s an island called Navassa in the Caribbean somewhere which had
been taken jurisdiction of by the government 150 years ago or so.
Jodi Avergun: The US government?
Carol Freeman: Yes.
Jodi Avergun: OK.
Carol Freeman: Up until the year 2000, 1900, 19 oh something, there was a company that
had the license to mine guano on this island. Guano apparently is rich in
phosphate and some other minerals but the market for that deteriorated and
the license lapsed. Somewhere in 1996 Mr. Warren apparently got some
jurisdiction over the assets or the name of this Navassa phosphate company
and brought his claim to confirm title thinking he had title to it. Well some
years before that, 12 years before he filed his claim, the government, the
U.S. government, the Coast Guard, had exercised jurisdiction over Navassa;
they had a white house there, they had it ringed with do-not-trespass signs.
Anyway, so Judge Friedman and I did some research, some investigation
and it involved all sorts of interesting issues that you don’t usually come
upon and there was a hearing on a motion and Judge Friedman issued an
oral opinion which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
Jodi Avergun: And what was the result?
Carol Freeman: Oh, well Mr. Warren lost.
Jodi Avergun: He lost. OK.
Carol Freeman: So there came a point when we had a lot of FOIA cases, Freedom of
Information Act cases, which came up with high stacks of affidavits from
the FBI or the CIA or whoever, most of which were blacked out as
privileged. Very tedious to go through. The U.S. Court of Appeals had
held that you had to be very careful and very stringent in reviewing these.
So it was a very cumbersome uninteresting process to write an opinion in a
FOIA case.
Jodi Avergun: Right. So how did it get to the District Court? Was it that—
Carol Freeman: Some Pro Se filed a—
Jodi Avergun: Right. But he went through the FOIA process with the agency and didn’t
like something that the agency did and then sued.
Carol Freeman: Yes.
Jodi Avergun: OK. But they weren’t interesting opinions to write?
Carol Freeman: Well there was one set of cases brought by a woman who was very obsessed
with Scientology and I cannot tell you because I haven’t read any of
opinions recently what the particular claims were but she had some serious
issues with people involved in the Scientology Church and there were a
bunch of opinions involving that and this is another one of the obsessed
plaintiffs that we had to deal with. Then there was another woman, I forget
why she was suing, but there was one woman who ended up filing
complaints against us and the Court based on our actions. Truth be told I
don’t remember much more about it.
Jodi Avergun: You didn’t get deposed on the case?
Carol Freeman: No no, it didn’t last very long. So there came a time in 2004 when this
became repetitive and wasn’t as interesting anymore and if I say that my
older son who had at that point a four-year-old son wanted me to quit and
spend more time with his four-year-old son. That wasn’t the main reason I
retired, though. My husband had retired ten years earlier. I was going to
talk about that a little bit later but I can do that now. We met in the late
winter of 1969 and got married that October. In 1971, as I have mentioned,
I had my first son, in 1974 I had my second and in 1979 I had my daughter.
When I met Arthur, he was working for a small consulting company that
did basically OEO (Office Economic Opportunity) consulting down in
Appalachia. In the winter of 1970, 1971, when I was pregnant, he thought
perhaps he should get a more stable position. He had gone to Columbia
College, Columbia Business School, and worked for the New York
Telephone Company, then came down to work for ComSat and then to the
small consulting company. We were living in this, not really a dorm, but
Hamilton House on New Hampshire Avenue and there were a whole bunch
of singles living up there and several of them were State Department people
and one of them knew of an opening in the Economics Bureau of the State
Department. Arthur applied for it and was appointed. So beginning in
January of 1971 he had this stable job. He was a Foreign Service Reserve
Officer. He was not subject to being transferred overseas so, anyway, he
worked there doing some very interesting things. My son Alan has spent
two days doing an oral history of Arthur which he had been bugging him to
do for years but given the fact that I’m doing it, Arthur finally agreed to do
Jodi Avergun: That’s good. So you’re an inspiration. So we have to thank the D.C. Circuit
Historical Society for that too.
Carol Freeman: So my husband represented the United States in conferences involving
international satellites, international telecommunication. He said, and he’s
been telling the grandchildren, there’s something special about being at an
international conference and sitting there behind a plate saying United
States. The same feeling I got when I would stand up in court and say Carol
Garfiel for the United States. We both understand what it’s like and you,
having been AUSA, you understand
Jodi Avergun: Completely.
Carol Freeman: Anyway, so Arthur had retired in 1994, 1996 but had gone back for a while
on special assignments, but by 2004 he wasn’t doing that anymore and we
wanted to do some traveling, so I retired. Technically, retired. I did two
other things, legal things while I was retired. I probably mentioned that I
was involved in the American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section
beginning mostly in 1982. I was on the editorial board of the Criminal
Justice magazine. At least for while I was Chair of the Board of Editors. I
was on the Publications Committee. There was a book that the publications
committee brought out written, the original one written by William
Greenhalgh, who was a professor at Georgetown. The Fourth Amendment
Handbook. The book included a summary of every federal court, every
Supreme Court Fourth Amendment decision, and it went through several
different editions and I think there has not been one since the one maybe
five years ago that I basically was involved mostly with getting out.
Jodi Avergun: My law review article was about Fourth Amendment issues and the
reliability of confidential informants so Illinois v. Gates and then the Leon
exception so issues close to my heart.
Carol Freeman: I was Vice Chair of Publications from some period. I was also appointed to
the main ABA Standing Committee on Publication Oversight that my son
Alan, who was active in the law student division, claims credit partly for
that because he got the law student division to support me. When I retired,
Paul Rashkind, who was a federal Public Defender in Florida, had been
writing the Cert Alert column for the Criminal Justice magazine for years
and he retired so I took over the Cert Alert column and I wrote that for 15
years until about a year ago or two years ago when I decided that I was
bored with it. That was very interesting and actually I used to keep running
into judges or friends who said they read my column. I wasn’t sure if
anybody read it but it was something I could do being retired because you
can get all the Supreme Court information online. For a while we were
putting in citations – I’d go up to the Montgomery County law library to
use their computer to get the citations and if I was in California when the
column was coming out, Alan would get them for me. But then we realized
nobody needs citations anymore, they just google the name of the case. So
we don’t do citations anymore. I thought what would be helpful would be
to quote the precise questions presented and then, when there was an
opinion, to write it up in some detail, including dissents. I tried to be
somewhat judicious but there were occasions, one I remember in particular,
where Justice Ginsburg dissented and wrote this so much more powerful
dissent than Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion that I had much more space
for Justice Ginsburg.
Jodi Avergun: [Phone ring?] I’m sorry, can you just, I don’t know what’s going on here.
I’m sorry we have a meeting with a district attorney this afternoon in New
York, so my associate is, telephone. I was in New York last week. I wasn’t
going to get there on time. No worries.
Carol Freeman: Anyway I learned more from the Supreme Court while writing the column
than I did when I was a practicing lawyer.
Jodi Avergun: How often was it published, your column?
Carol Freeman: Four times a year.
Jodi Avergun: And how did you choose which cases to review, because you couldn’t do
all, right? You couldn’t review and write on all the cases that the court
granted cert. on.
Carol Freeman: Only criminal. Criminal issues and I added prisoner civil rights cases. I
added immigration cases that had a criminal aspect to them. But not civil
cases and I think it was an SEC case that I decided that I didn’t have to write
about because I didn’t understand it. [laughs] I didn’t want to bother
burdening them that way. I did write up criminal post-conviction cases.
The Guantanamo cases I wrote up. Things that I thought a criminal
practitioner should be aware of. A lot of immigration cases had criminal
aspects. Sadly. Anyway, I met with the man who took it over after I retired.
He’s got a whole different approach to it. It’s interesting, it’s not the way I
did it, but I was comfortable. I felt more comfortable when I ran into
somebody who said I read your column. OK. the other thing that I did very
seriously, particularly after I retired, was the William B. Bryant American
Inn of Court. That was founded in 1987. I got a letter asking if I wanted to
be a founding member. A group met at the US District Court and we
established the William B. Bryant American Inn of Court. From 1987 until
maybe two or three years ago I was very active in that. Are you familiar
with the Inns of Court?
Jodi Avergun: I am. And was there Edward Jennings Bryants Inn of Court? Also, here in
Carol Freeman: No. It was an Edward Bennet Williams.
Jodi Avergun: Edward Bennet Williams. OK. I wanted to be in that one and then spoken
to it but they have, they had a policy that there could only be two senior
lawyers from each private law firm. We had several former senior Justice
Department officials so I didn’t get in. No, it’s a great thing.
Carol Freeman: It was fun. It was interesting. After a while I was on the administrative
board. I was Counselor to the President of the Inn for a few years. I was
President finally and the last two years I have not been active. I’m an
emeritus member. At one point my son Alan whom I’ve mentioned often,
he wanted to do something legal with me so he joined the Inn and we were
on a team together for a few years and so that was fun. The other two things
that I’ve done since I retired, well I’ve been doing them beforehand, I’ve
done a lot of needlepoint including dining room chair seats and if you look
around, a lot of pillows…
Jodi Avergun: Oh that’s yours. Wow.
Carol Freeman: and I didn’t, now I’m doing them for my grandchildren. My oldest grandson
is at Elon University. I’ve done a pillow for him. I’m now starting on a
pillow for my second grandson who just started at the University of
Rochester and I’ve done for the little girls, my daughter Susie’s two little
girls Winnie the Pooh designs, so I do a lot of that and I’ve done a lot of
that watching baseball.
Jodi Avergun: So do you take your needlework to the ballgame and you do it there?
Carol Freeman: No, no. I do it while I’m sitting here watching TV. While I’m not excited
about the current post-season I do like Max Scherzer and so I’m sort of
interested in the Dodgers although having been a Brooklyn Dodger fan, it’s
very difficult to root for the Dodgers.
Jodi Avergun: Exactly. They deserted you.
Carol Freeman: But I’m rooting for Max Scherzer. The other thing that I’ve done a lot of is
genealogy. We started off several weeks ago with a genealogy of my family
which the way it came out orally was totally inarticulate and mixed up and
when I was going through the transcripts, I rewrote the part of it but I didn’t
realize at that point that I hadn’t done the tracking properly, so it comes out,
I’ll ask about that later, anyway I rewrote it so it makes more sense but
nobody probably is going to listen to the transcript. They’ll read what’s
Jodi Avergun: I don’t know what they’ll do because I think a part of the oral history the
attraction of it to people is listening to the speakers speak. We’ll see. I
don’t know. It’ll be an interesting question to ask the society how it’s
Carol Freeman: We can talk about that later. So I think what I’ve done here summarizing
my life. Most of the defendants I represented were not evil people although
a few of them were. Most of them grew up in undesirable situations. They
didn’t have family who had education. They didn’t have family who
necessarily worked regularly. There were drugs around most of the time. I
had one client, a young man, like 20, 21, who kept missing court
appointments, missing appointments. Why? Nobody in the house he lived
in had an alarm clock. He didn’t have a calendar. So I tore a calendar out
of one of my little books and gave him a calendar. But nobody had an alarm
clock. These are not people who have stable working lives and the kids who
grow up are handicapped by that. It’s not a racial thing. In Montgomery
County I had a lot of White defendants, Hispanic also, but a lot of White
defendants. Including one family with a very sad young woman. I first
heard of her because she was living with a guy who ended up killing
somebody and I had him in a murder case. A few years later I forget how
she came to the justice system and then her husband was having problems
and I went to their house. I helped them out. They lived off Twinbrook
Parkway somewhere. These were White people who were… and the
husband’s brother I ended up representing. That was when I was a private
lawyer. She ended up killing herself. I went to her funeral. Very sad. Very
sad. She was doomed from the beginning. Then there was another family.
African American or Black, The woman, the mother was studying at Trinity
University. The kid got involved, I think mainly beginning in juvenile court
but I forget exactly. He had a few cases. The mother had cases. A daughter
had a case. These people were better educated than the White family but
they still all had problems. They were family type problems. So when I
say most of them grew up in bad situations and they were not evil, it wasn’t
racial. I have had clients of all sorts of different races.
Jodi Avergun: It was economic more than anything?
Carol Freeman: Education and economics. Many of them were into drugs. Most of them
wanted to do well but once they were released they get back in the same
community and these young men who were in jail would tell me A B C in
order to do this that and the other thing. Then they’d go home and their
friend would say come on have a little fun with us and they’d get back into
the same thing. There were basketball players I represented who got into
drugs and into problems. Very sad. I don’t know what the answer is. Better
education and support would help. Decriminalizing drugs would help.
Mainly better education and I’m all for the Biden proposal creating a
mandatory pre-school and family support. We’ve got to do something to
help these people and education and family support is important. That’s a
summary of 35 years or more 38 years in the criminal justice system. I
always treated clients with respect and I think back to when I was a AUSA
there was somebody with the Public Defenders’ office who, when he was
interrogating his client on the stand, would call him by his first name. I
never did that. I’d call them Mr. so and so or Mrs. so and so. I would not
wear jeans to go to the jail to talk to people. I dressed like a lawyer. I think
that’s important. I don’t want to be friends with them. I want them to think
I’m their lawyer and that I respect them. I think generally my clients
appreciated what I was doing for them. I think they were comfortable with
their representation. A few of them occasionally, and I have no problem
with it, would file post-conviction claims which were always dismissed. I
think particularly of one client who was on the Mariel boat from Cuba when
a prison in Cuba was opened up and a whole bunch of people came over to
Florida. He and his brother and somebody else were involved with a drug
distribution ring. The brother was more involved than this particular man.
But I would always – he didn’t speak English and I would interview him at
the jail and I’d have a colleague with me or an investigator who spoke
Spanish to him. Nice man. One day around the Jewish High Holy Days, I
went to see him and he said Gut Yontiff (Happy Holiday) which was so
sweet. These were not evil people. I liked him. Unfortunately I heard, he,
they were obviously going to be deported. He was out in detention in the
Eastern shore and he died of an infection of some sort.
Jodi Avergun: Oh no.
Carol Freeman: But I remember him. Usually I agreed with the verdicts. Certainly, when I
was the prosecutor if they were guilty I agreed with them. I do remember
one case I had as a prosecutor where there had been a shooting and an
undercover policeman had witnessed the event – I forget how it worked –
but the victim was a bad guy and the defendant was not the bad guy. The
victim didn’t come to trial and I was in trial before Judge George Hart and
we went up to bench and I said this victim is not here. He said is there any
reason I shouldn’t dismiss the case (which I had tried unsuccessfully to get
the government to let me dismiss). I said not at all, Your Honor. So the
case was dismissed. There were two defense cases that I remember that I
really wasn’t sure about. One was a guilty and one was a not guilty. The
guilty verdict was for a man who was alleged to have assaulted a Hispanic
woman who was in her car off Georgia Avenue somewhere and the assailant
left in a bicycle and they found a bicycle near my client’s house, apartment.
He was convicted and I’m still not sure, he probably was guilty but I wasn’t
100% comfortable with that. I think he’s one who filed a post-conviction
petition claiming ineffective assistance of counsel that was denied but I kept
trying to get that case dismissed. I remember having more conversations
afterwards with the Assistant State’s Attorney about that. Then there was
another man who was… He wasn’t homeless but he had met a woman, a
religious not religious but if I say a good Christian woman you’ll know what
I mean. A spinster, straight laced spinster, who he met at I think some kind
of community center and at one point she ended up driving him home. He
made a sexual approach to her. I forget how much detail there was. He
certainly tried to kiss her. Kissed her. He may have fondled her. He was
found not guilty of attempted rape but guilty of battery and a fourth degree
sex offense. He probably was guilty of a more serious offense. So these
are the two cases that I think of where I wasn’t totally comfortable with the
verdict. I had not guilty verdicts where I was confident the client was not
guilty or at least that the government hadn’t proved it. Those were two
cases. Generally my opponents were ethical and were reasonably
competent. That’s both when I was in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, when I
was opposing the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and when I was a Public Defender
opposing Assistant States Attorneys. I think I was lucky as a defense
counsel to always be opposing good prosecutors and I think most of them,
I think most of my colleagues – and I include a whole bunch of different
people – follow the Department of Justice mantra that the government
always wins when justice is done. I recognize that I came from privilege.
My family was comfortable economically. They prized education. I was
expected to be a professional. My family supported me in all the choices I
made. That includes my married family as well as my birth family. I went
to Columbia which as I mentioned earlier I think had women in law school
back to the 1930s if not earlier. So I wasn’t subjected to nonsense. It took
me longer to attain the goals that I wanted because I was a woman probably
partly because I was Jewish but I always got there. Although as a footnote,
there were times when I thought, you know it would be fun to apply to Ruth
Bader Ginsberg to be a law clerk. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that
thought. But you know I never worked on the Supreme Court and I wonder
what that would be like.
Jodi Avergun: Amazing.
Carol Freeman: But I’ve wanted, as I said, my husband was always supportive. We never
were transferred out of the country. He had a more regular – career isn’t
the word I want – position. Because he would always be home by six unless
he was out of the country for three weeks for an international conference. I
never had live- in help. I always had fulltime day help. The one time that
my daughter Susie age two broke her arm, I felt OK because I had been off
trying to find navy blue pants for my older son who was going to be a school
safety patrol. I was doing mother things. Not law things when she hurt her
arm. She continues to remind me that I failed to pick her up at ballet one
day because I was at the jail with a client. She says it was twice, it was only
once. At dinners when they were growing up we would have legal
discussions and I would give them a fact situation. Should we go to trial or
should we get a plea and depending how they chose I might recommend an
action to my client. They all grew up knowing mommy is a lawyer and the
funniest time probably was when Alan was a first-year law student. He and
Susie were both at home. We had a wonderful discussion Alan and I at
dinner about the Washington Shoe case, personal jurisdiction and the others
were sitting there lost. So that, that’s my life in the law. I feel very fortunate
that I was able to have an interesting career, during which I believe I
participated in the doing of justice, and that I had a supportive husband with
whom we raised three children who have useful careers that they enjoy, are
public service minded, and have married excellent people and produced all
together six wonderful grandchildren.
Jodi Avergun: Carol, it’s been wonderful. I have enjoyed hearing about this. I’m sure the
people who access the DC Circuit Historical Society will love reading about
this. I’m going to stop the recording.