Clinton Accused Special Report
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Key Player:
Norma Holloway Johnson

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As the chief of the federal District Court in Washington, Norma Holloway Johnson oversees the grand jury process. That has put her in the position of weighing a raft of motions relating to the investigation by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.

In her nearly 18 years on the bench, Johnson – a registered Democrat who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter – has gained a reputation as a harsh sentencer who is inclined to rule for the government, and a pedantic judge who can be prickly with lawyers who run afoul of her views of courtroom decorum.

She is among the least well-known judges on the court here, a woman with a penchant for privacy; she does not provide her age (65) in the directory of federal judges and, until she became chief judge last June, was the only District Court judge to keep the doors to her chambers locked.

Her rulings have proved to be much more satisfactory to Starr than to President Clinton and the White House. Most significantly, she ruled in May that Clinton's right to executive privilege was outweighed by Starr's legitimate need for evidence. But in August, she authored a stinging ruling accusing Starr of violating grand jury secrecy rules.

Johnson's Ruling on Grand Jury Secrecy Rules (Aug. 7, 1998)
Starr's Evidence Swayed Judge (May 28, 1998)
Text of Judge Johnson's Order on Executive Privilege (May 28, 1998)
Johnson Strict With Officials and About Her Privacy (March 20, 1998)

(Updated October 2, 1998)

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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