World Food Prize Ambassador Quinn
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THE ARCHIVE OF AMBASSADOR KENNETH M. QUINN
FROM THE MISSISSIPPI TO THE MEKONG
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A Perry Mason Moment: Cross Examining the Defense Expert in the Espionage Case

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Amb. Quinn describes how the defense attorneys for Humphrey and Truong try to counter his testimony by bringing in an expert witness- Morton Halperin, a former member of Henry Kissinger’s National Security staff. Halperin testifies that every one of the cables and documents about which Amb. Quinn had defended were in fact improperly classified and none of them should have been protected as “Confidential” or “Secret.” Working with the government prosecutors over lunch, Amb. Quinn writes the series of questions for them to pose to Halperin. In them, they ask Halperin to describe specific named individuals and places, which he endeavors to do. Then, using Amb. Quinn’s script, the government attorneys point out that what Halperin had identified as a person was in fact the name of a village. They repeated this four times, each showing that Halperin did not in fact really know the area and thus was not able to give credible testimony. Discredited, the jury quickly returned guilty verdicts against both men. Amb. Quinn recalls how growing up he was enamored with Perry Mason, the TV lawyer who always discredited witnesses in the court room. While he did not get to actually ask questions, the use of his script in fact produced his “Perry Mason moment.”

© 2020 World Food Prize Ambassador Quinn. All rights reserved.