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Ted Wells, Center Of the Defense

An artist's sketch of Ted Wells at work during the Scooter Libby trial.
An artist's sketch of Ted Wells at work during the Scooter Libby trial. (By Dana Verkouteren -- Associated Press)

At 6-feet-2 and 225 pounds, Wells was offered various college athletic scholarships. He chose Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. After his first year, Wells quit the team to focus on academics.

About Wells "there was a kind of intensity I recognized early on," says Holy Cross classmate Edward P. Jones, a fellow Washingtonian who went on to win the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

As freshmen, Jones and Wells roomed in the same dorm. Jones remembers that one time he and Wells and several other students borrowed a car to go to New York to meet with law-school recruiters at Fordham University. The caffeine-fueled driver was sophomore and future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Wells graduated from college in 1972 and from Harvard University in 1976 with degrees in law and business. Along the way he married his high school sweetheart, Nina Mitchell. They were both 21. Today she is the secretary of state for New Jersey. They have two children: Teresa, 28, and Phillip, 26.

He worked for several New Jersey law firms over the years. He was national treasurer for Sen. Bill Bradley's presidential run in 2000. That same year became co-chair of the Paul Weiss litigation department.

He is proud of his longtime association with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Last year, according to the National Law Journal, he helped defend desegregation education programs in two cases before the Supreme Court.

He also prides himself on being one of the rare trial lawyers in the country with a national jury trial practice. Last year the National Law Journal named him Lawyer of the Year.

Longtime friend Vernon Jordan called Wells up on Super Bowl Sunday and asked him over to his house to eat some chili and watch the game. Wells thanked him but said he was too busy preparing for the Libby case. "He works very hard," Jordan says.

And as for Wells's demeanor, Jordan says, "you don't have to be an [expletive] to win cases."

Washington attorneys took the day off yesterday to watch his big-league matchup with Fitzgerald. Wells -- who didn't put Libby on the stand -- argued that his client is an innocent man with a bad memory. Fitzgerald said Libby lied under oath.

There in the middle of the courtroom, Wells was playing center again, helping call the plays and protecting the guy with the ball. Laughing in the beginning, crying in the end.


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