October 9, 2009

If you have been reading my blog, you know that my personal journey over the last year has been both tumultuous and eye opening. Over the last twelve months I have felt both tremendous pain and great joy. I have experienced the depths of despair and at times, lost faith in my fellow man. My confidences have been breached and those who claimed they were friends abandoned me. I guess this is just part of living.

But today, my heart is hurting for some people I hold dear. Over the last nine years I have been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented, generous, loving and selfless people who constantly give of themselves, share their incredible talents and skills while seeking nothing in return.  Fredilyn Sison, Carl Bettinger, Lynne Bratcher and Katlin Larimer have enriched the lives of many people, mine included, in innumerous ways and I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to each of them. Their gifts have been freely given and the time and energy devoted to helping others have been immense.

Sadly, the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished is being put into action by the new president of TLC. Punishment for the failure to swear allegiance to or accede to the opinions/demands/ideas or vision of those at the top is coming in the form of a swift kick out the door.  Make no mistake; there is nothing voluntary in the departures of Fredi, Carl, Lynne and Katlin from the TLC Board of Directors. No amount of spin or propaganda can change the facts.  And to make matters worse, Fredi, Carl and Katlin were asked for their resignations on the eve of the Advanced Workshop. Because they are professionals and deeply ethical, they continued to give their all to the students, with no word about their betrayal by people who claimed to be their friends.

Today is indeed a sad day for TLC, for the alumni and future students. To all of you who have been rejected and set aside, you may be being forced out; with little more than a cursory thank you and insincere word of appreciation, but those whose lives you have touched will not forget you. Take comfort in the words of Gerry Spence, shared in his blog posting “The Great Gift of Rejection.“ http://www.gerryspence.wordpress.com. According to Gerry Spence, rejection is a gift. “By having been rejected by those who I wanted to take me I have, involuntarily remained free, which has been the greatest gift of all.  Those who rejected me knew best.  I owe them great thanks. . . .”

Accordingly, embrace the gift of rejection that Jude Basile and TLC have given you. You are now free. You don’t need a college or a ranch to make an impact on people or a difference in their lives. There are plenty of places to share your gifts. Don’t let those foolish enough to set you aside minimize your self worth and the contributions you have made to the lives of many. Remember, life is short. Perhaps it is time to take back control of your life, recognize who your true friends are, and spend your time, energy and talent on people who and organizations that value both you and your gifts.



  1. Your latest blog is disturbing.

    I assume that before the new president told Carl, Katlin and Fredi he reversed roles with them and discovered that being hit with a two by four, right before they were to staff one of his programs would feel really good. I have reservations about someone like that running a place that I hold near and dear to my heart. These three people are some of the most talented, skilled and well-loved members of the staff. Yet Jude Basile decided that his vision for TLC did not include them on the board. If these three aren’t good enough for HIS board, then who is?

    I heard that none of the students at the Advanced knew of the bloodletting. It says a lot about these three that they would suck it up and not let the students see the hurt they must have been feeling. Why Katlin, Carl and Fredi did not jump in their cars and give Jude the same finger he gave them is puzzling.

    Supposedly, Jude has been saying he wanted a smaller board. Then why is he adding three new people? The net loss on the board is only one. That’s some weird math.

    Jude wrote he wanted term limits. Then why did he remove the most junior members of the board? If Jude wanted a fresh board, as he claimed, why didn’t he pick off those who have been on the board the longest? If he wanted fresh ideas, why didn’t he keep the ones who have been coming up with new material, exercises, techniques these last few years?

    Why were so many women removed? Why was only one woman asked to join the board? Why was the only minority woman removed? (Fredi). Only Milton Grimes remains as the person of color. The board, then and now, is full of wealthy, middle aged white males who practice civil law. Do they know what it’s like to work in a public defender office or legal aid office? To take cases they can’t say no to? To have to ask for a scholarship to attend TLC? That’s some serious role reversals! Why did he remove the only person who practiced criminal law full-time? (Fredi is a public defender). Why did he remove the only certified psychodramatists? (Katlin, Lynne and Fredi).

    Jude’s vaguely worded memo to the alumni doesn’t really tell us the reasons about why these particular four were terminated. Or why he kept the others on. He implies that they didn’t share his vision. My guess is that they asked too many hard questions. And that they disagreed with the powers that be.

    The board has lost some good members over the years—Charlie Abourezk, John Nolte and Garvin Isaacs. They asked hard questions too. We don’t see them anymore, do we? What a loss for us.

    It will remain to be seen if Katlin, Carl, Lynne and Fredi will remain on staff. It will be a shame if TLC loses these four people on staff as well, whether by choice or by design.

    While I appreciate all that the college has done for me, I sure don’t like what I’ve seen and heard lately.

  2. I have been trying to withhold judgment on this “restructiolning” but the removal of Katlin and her fellow Board members is is bit much? I am as concerned about the removal of good people as I am about the allegations that the leadership and the remaining Board members feel the need to lie to us to justify their actions. If a removal of a person like Katlin is truly necessary, why can’t Jude be man enough to come out and tell us directly. I think the alleged misrepresentation is horrible and these allegations make me wonder if TLC leadership is acting irresponsibly and/or is motivated by some form of self interest! I think it is unfair to keep us dedicated and loyal TLC warriors in the dark. Exactly what is going on in Camalot huh?

  3. I wonder if people are being quiet on the blogs or on the List Service because they don’t care, they are afraid of speaking out or because they are tired of TLC drama. I’m more in the second category, but I’m sufficiently pissed off to say something.

    In reading Jude’s letter to the alumni, I was struck by his mantra to move forward. I’d like to but it’s hard to get past the dead bodies Jude just mowed down in his quest for “progress.”

    I agree that it’s important to get fresh ideas and new people. But I’m alarmed at the way it was done with Carl, Katlin, Fredi and Lynne. I also strongly disagree with Jude’s assessment that these four people no longer had fresh ideas.

    I was told that removal from the TLC board required board vote and discussion. Jude didn’t even pretend to have the backing of the board. I found out that some board members did not even know of the removals until after the fact. Is this an autocracy? It sure smells like it. Yes, technically they are not removals since Jude asked them for their “resignations,” but that’s simply a white-washing of the facts.

    As lawyers, we are aware of the importance of codes and rules. We may not agree with them but we often use them to get justice for our clients. Some of these rules actually keep opposing counsel and even judges in line. But here at TLC, rules, in the form of by-laws, don’t seem to matter.

    The comments on the List Service about change being good were well-intentioned, but short-sighted. I’m sure a lot of people think Tort Reform is progress, but we don’t. Or do we, since it’s change? I’m sure a lot of people thought rendition was a good change from past policy, but we don’t. Or do we, since it’s “progress”?

    How many people have actually talked or contacted the “removed” board members to see how they feel about the change? Before we shoot off our mouths, me included, we should get all the facts. Isn’t that what good lawyers do?

    Can we trust someone like Jude? That really is the question for me. And so far, from what I’ve seen, the answer is no.

    • I want to respond to Mardi’s recent post on the List Service, part of which is reprinted below. Mardi’s thoughts are probably what many of us are thinking, and I’m not picking on Mardi, who is a lovely person and will hopefully win her judicial election, but I think it deserves comment:

      “What are the changes that people are fearing from the change in the Big Board? What changes will we, as attendees at various workshops, as warriors who set up our own area groups, as people who network freely with our Warrior brothers and sisters, as people who use our TLC skills every day of our lives — what changes will we see as a result of the change in the Board. Why do I care if Gerry has bent the Board to his will? Why do I care if he brought in a new Exec Director that he already knew and had worked with? TLC was his creation. I’m not trying to make trouble here — I just don’t understand why everyone is in an uproar over this. Aside from some of our favorite people being treated carelessly and rudely, (which should not have happened, but sometimes does when humans are involved), what changes will I see in TLC that will actually affect me? In fact, what changes will I see that I will even notice? If my cellular network decides to change the suppliers it uses to build its network, as long as my phone still works, what do I care?”

      Mardi, you make many good points. But I ask you to consider the following.

      First, as I wrote in my previous post to this blog, there are by-laws for this board. The board is free to change them at any time, subject to the by-laws that govern amendment of the by-laws. In this case, one person acted with no regard for what the rules are. Doesn’t that bother you? Doesn’t it make you mad when the judge doesn’t follow rules of evidence or makes up his own rules? Even if the judge’s intention is noble, what he did is wrong and as officers of the court, we need to call him on it.

      Our favorite people were treated CRUELLY, not just careless or rudely. Look at how they were told—three of them were staffing the Advanced Regional Program and right before it started, Jude asked them to resign. That’s cold-hearted. Not just to them, but to the students that were coming to the program.

      You use an analogy of cell network changing their suppliers—you write that as long as you get phone service, does it really matter? Let me ask you this: if your cell network was using a supplier that had a history of not hiring minorities, would that make difference to you? If your cell network was using a supplier that allowed sexual innuendos as part of its corporate culture, would that bother you? Or if the women employees were treated like second class citizens?

      Would it bother you if the supplier that your cell network recently hired falsely advertised itself as a caring and fair company and they weren’t?

      If you look at the Mission Statement of this college, the leadership is not living up to its own mission statement. Specifically, this: “In all of its activities, the Trial Lawyers College will foster and nourish an open atmosphere of caring for people..” Why don’t we ask Carl, Katlin, Fredi, Lynne, Charlie and John Nolte how true this statement feels to them? Why is it that people are afraid to post on the List Service or like me, want to remain anonymous? Because this open atmosphere of caring doesn’t always exist or it exists only for a select few.

      Many of us have given money to support the college. All of us have attended its programs and continue to. We have an interest in this college and we show it by giving, both our time and money. Isn’t it our college as much as Gerry’s or Jude’s? If someone asks me for money to help pay for the college’s expenses and scholarship, I have an interest in it. I give to this college because I believe in its mission. I want this college to go on, but when it stops being true to its mission, I’ve got a right to ask why.

      I’m trying to see it from your point, that as long as we’re getting what we need from the college, does any of this other stuff really matter? I guess my question to you is Why doesn’t it? Isn’t this the reason most of us went to law school and trained like hell to fight? Because it’s those things that may not seem like they matter, that really do.

  4. After reading Norm’s blog and having my own concerns about the acts of TLC and its leaders, I have finally obtained a copy of TLC’s bylaws. Remember, TLC is a not for profit organization which must, by law, file both its articles of incorporation and bylaws with the WY Secretary of State. I urge you to get a copy for yourself.

    After review of the bylaws, I am extremely disturbed with how TLC does not follow its own bylaws which were last amended in 2002. The bylaws state, regarding removal as follows: “A Director may be removed when sufficient cause exists for such removal.”

    In addition, the board may ONLY act in the name of the organization when it shall be regularly convened by its chairman (the President) after due notice of such meeting to all Directors. The bylaws also require a quorum of the board to meet (2/3 of its members) if any action is to be taken. Vacancies on the board can only be filled by a vote of the majority of the remaining members of the board.

    I understand Jude Basile and Gerry Spence, with the input of the new Executive Director, in secret, without convening a board meeting, without vote, without any just cause, asked for the resignations of Carl Bettinger, Lynn Bratcher, Katlyn Larimer and Fredi Sisson from the board. All of these folks had been re-elected to the TLC Board at their last meeting in July. What is the real reason they have been forced out? Was this done after a meeting of the full board? Was there a vote for removal? If so, what was the vote? Did any of the ousted board members have an opportunity to defend themselves? What is the just cause for removing such dedicated board members? Let’s compare the participation of Carl, Fredi and Lynn at Regionals to those of other board members? Look at the list of TLC Board members and ask yourselves and other seminar and TLC alumni when you and they have last seen each of the other board members at a Regional. Ask yourselves and other alumni, both seminar and TLC when they last saw Carl, Fredi and Lynn at a Regional. I understand that some remaining board members had no idea these forced resignations were coming. Was there a vote of the entire board to add the new board members? How were they chosen? Were you aware that the ousted members were all on the curriculum committee and along with a few others are responsible for all the new ideas in teaching and curriculum advancement in the last few years? We are not being given the facts. We are only being given the spin. I feel like I am watching Fox News.

    This is just flat wrong people and is the type of behavior we have seen and come to expect from corporate america. Looks like TLC is no different than a corrupt corporation.

  5. But we’re assured the departing board members will be welcomed back as staff members. Seems like I’ve heard that before somewhere though.

    I feel like not only were all but one female removed, the heart of the board was purged. Also a bad time, apparently, to be a certified psychodramatist as Lynne, you, Fredi are gone from leadership, not to mention Kaitlyn and John.

    Gerry stood up to the Bush administration in the Mayfield and Feiger cases but the current President (of TLC that is) now seems to be modeling Bush’s leadership style by removing all dissenters making decisions behind closed doors while claiming to support transparency.

    Reminds me of a Russian proverb: “Choose your enemies carefully for you will become like them.”

    • David,

      Good Russian Proverb—how do you like this quote from Plato? “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”

      • I like it. Reminds me of the line from Robert Frost’s Home Burial, which documents an argument between a man and woman. When the man suggests rules that they should live by, she responds:

        “I do not like such things twixt those that love,
        Two that don’t love can’t live together without them,
        But two that love can’t live together with them.”


  6. I read Jim McMillen’s post on the list service. In it he claims that TLC is buying the ranch from the Spence Foundation over 20 years? First I have even heard that and I have been involved with TLC almost since it began.

    Let’s review. Over the years the following representations have been made about the ranch:
    – Gerry owns the ranch but pays all expenses of the college out of his own pocket
    – Gerry has given the ranch to TLC
    – TLC owns the ranch
    – Spence Foundation owns the ranch but TLC leases it and can use it forever
    – TLC leases the ranch for a specific period of time but pays every single expense associated with the ranch, all upkeep and all costs including those of employees, and all insurance, maintenance and improvement expenses for the ranch (even though it only uses the ranch for about 10 weeks a year) but Spence Foundation still owns the ranch and can unilaterally terminate the lease

    No wonder the alumni are so confused! What is the truth? Where is the lease? Why hasn’t it been made public? Why hasn’t anyone on the board answered questions about the ranch and the lease or ownership thereof? Is the lease even valid (Norm claims it was approved by only a few votes during a telephone call without a quorum of the board participating)? Who drafted the lease? Was it Gerry’s stepson as I have heard? Why didn’t Gerry allow TLC to have independent counsel review the lease (Charlie Abourezk requested that and was subsequently thrown off the board)? Where is the transperancy? It would be a simple matter for the board to answer these questions and to post the lease to the TLC list serve or on TLC’s web site? Why haven’t they? What are they afraid of? I guess they are too busy getting rid of good honest people from the board to answer legitimate questions.

    I am more than disturbed!

  7. I was a former student at the college and left early because I was alarmed at what I saw and experienced. TLC is nothing more than a cult. If you have any knowledge of cults or do some basic research, you will see the truth. The alumni are in denial about this reality. And really, does any current member of a cult admit or accept they are in fact members of a cult?

    So, what is a cult?

    “A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person [Gerry Spence], idea [TLC Method is the best way] or thing [TLC and/or the ranch] and employing manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience [Use of psychodrama to break people down emotionally], powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment [censorship and the silencing of dissent], promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of (consequences of) leaving it) designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders.”

    Generally, some form of psychological coercion is used to recruit and maintain group members by suppressing the ability of members to reason, think critically, and make choices in their own best interest.

    TLC follows the key steps in coercive persuasion:

    1) People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations (psychodrama);
    2) Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized (you need to know yourself and who you are);
    3) They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader (Gerry Spence);
    4) They get a new identity based on the group (I am a Warrior, this is my family, we are a tribe, I went to TLC);
    5) They are subject to isolation (Ranch or remote locations) and their access to information is severally controlled (TLC does not share any information with the group about how things are run, what the financial arrangements are, how people get selected for staff, terms of the lease, etc.).

    There are at least three ways people leave a cult:

    1) By one’s own decision;
    2) Through expulsion;
    3) Or through intervention.

    So, is TLC a cult?

    I think the answer is a conclusive and resounding YES!!

  8. I have been in trial for two weeks and am just learning of the changes within the board. What frieghtens me the most is something that I am dealing with in TCDLA. In order to have true meaning as an organization for all participants, the leadership most reflect its members. How can a civil trial lawyer who is never tried a criminal case understand the problems of the criminal trial. How can a white male understand the issues that women or a person of color most face to try a case. Fredi’s knowledge and life experiences were needed to help TLC support all its members. Dollars and Justice are not synonymous.

  9. The BS is really infuriating. The claim was made that Carl and Freddi and Kaitlin and Lynne had to go because the board needed “new blood.” So why did they have to resign instead of people who have served longer and in a much less active capacity? Why does it seem that the people who have sacrificed the MOST of their time and money (expenses to travel to regionals, etc.) were the first to be cut, whereas the “old guard” who rarely come to regionals, and act like we ought to be overwhelmed by the privilege of their presence when they do show up (which is generally just to try to shake us down for money at the fund raiser), are still happily seated on the board?

  10. Those guys who fly in on their private planes and then try to act like they are one of us are a joke. TLC is about money. Money, money, money. Give, give, give. More, more, more. Gerry Spence won’t release the financial statements because he is afraid that if we really know how much money TLC has we will stop giving. It is the old guard who should be ousted, not the creative heart and soul of TLC.

    Jude and Gerry are getting rid of the working and creative board members but keeping the rich, white and privileged do nothing members. By the way, when is the last time you saw Rex Parris, John Zelbst, Kent Spence, Dana Cole, Cyndy Short or Jude Basile at a regional? Then ask yourselves when was the last time you saw Carl, Fredi or Lynne. And as for new board members, when have you last seen John Sloan or Anne Valentine at a regional? This is just a joke.

    I have to agree with deprogramed. TLC is a cult. If it wasn’t why would Gerry Spence spend so much time at the Sept. session trying to convince us that it isn’t a cult. If you have ever been to a TLC graduation ceremony, there can be no doubt that it is a cult.

  11. If all of you are convinced that TLC is being improperly managed and Gerry Spence has nefarious motives, why don’t you use your real names? What are you afraid of? Speak up. Email him directly instead of posting on Joane’s site. You obviously know his email address.

    This cult stuff is just nonsense, and you know it. Especially Joane and some of the rest of you who are experienced psychodramatists. It’s psychodrama! Where did Deprogrammed expect the session to be held, a Holiday Inn? If she didn’t like it, I don’t blame her. I went through three weeks of it at the Mayo Clinic and didn’t like it, but it wasn’t a cult. Grow up.

    Did you have any increased success after attending TLC? If not, why not? Was it TLC’s fault or your own? If you did have success (like Lynne Bratcher and Joane), why are you so angry now? Remember, anger is a secondary emotion.

    Whose word are you taking that some of the former Board members left with hard feelings? It’s entirely possible that people no longer choose to be on a non-profit, pay your own expenses board. At least one of the former members was originally a paid consultant. Perhaps the by-laws dictate that a Board member cannot be paid for his participation and this person could not afford to contribute his own expenses and time to attend meetings.

    No matter what is is going on now at TLC in your minds, TLC was originally Gerry’s dream, his idea, his techniques, his theories. He paid for everything. As far as I know he’s never made a dime on it. In the early days, he just absorbed the cost of scholarships.

    He’s 80 years old and still works harder on TLC than on any one other project in his life. He probably works harder on TLC than you do on your own practices.

    Give the man a break. Can any of you truthfully say you have contributed even a small fraction of what he has to to trial law or trial lawyers?

    Rosemary McIntosh

    • Rosemary
      Thank you for your post. I will post any comments that are submitted, no matter the author’s point of view or opinion. I do not censor the comments submitted and personally believe that all points of view and opinions are valid and that the sharing of same can only lead to a free exchange of ideas and to open discussion and debate. That is healthy.

    • Ms. McIntosh, You seem like a nice person, willing to defend Gerry. I’m told you were Gerry’s assistant. You have a different relationship with Gerry than all of us, but I bet you’ve seen him when he wasn’t so kind to others. No one is saying he hasn’t done much for us. I believe that many, though not all, left TLC feeling much improved, both as people and as trial lawyers. He has done a great job creating TLC, but it just isn’t him we should give credit to—John Johnson and Bob Rose were part of that dream. Also, the people who donated money also deserve credit for keeping TLC alive. The people who give their time (largely the staff and volunteers). The paid staff. The ranch staff. The students. The alumni. Gerry may be a great trial lawyer and a visionary but sadly he also has a dark side that many of us have seen. This side can’t be casually forgiven or forgotten. He’s publicly called women the B and C words, he’s used the N word, he thought it was funny to have a slave auction. I’ve seen him reduce people to tears. Staff and alumni have left because of how he’s treated them or people they are close to. He’s singled out favorites and these have been men. I went to a seminar in California where he called all the men on the staff the greatest trial lawyers in the country but did not credit any of the women on the staff who were sitting there. There is a Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde quality about him, which doesn’t take away from his history but your picture of him doesn’t reflect the reality of who he is or who he has become. I actually feel sorry for him because he doesn’t seem to have too many friends–only yes men and sycophants. The people that truly cared about the college he’s cast aside through his followers who care more about being close to a celebrity than the person you describe. History may call him one of the greatest trial lawyers, but he is an immensely flawed human being. Some of the things he has done, we’d forgive. But not all. This very public bloodletting is just the latest example. Too bad you didn’t know Carl Bettinger, Fredi Sison, and Katlin Larimer. They loved this college and still do. If you did know them, you would be as sad and demoralized as many of us are. They are good, decent people who deserved better than they got.

      • Dear Truth Please:

        I didn’t speak up to defend Gerry. He doesn’t need my help and, as far as I know, doesn’t know about these posts. I felt sad that something that had been such a big part of my life should end up in such conflict.

        Yes, I was Gerry’s assistant for nearly 20 years and I was privileged to be part of the inception of TLC. John Johnson was his best friend from the 60s and Judge Rose became his partner in 1969 and both had invaluable participation in the original planning. In 1994, John and Judge Rose, Bill Trine and many other lawyers came to Thunderhead to be OFWs. That list read like Who’s Who in Plaintiff Personal Injury/Criminal Bar. Josh Karton, Don Clarkson and John Nolte were also participants.

        We were flying by the seat of our pants, with Gerry having a general outline in his mind. It was a magical time and I’m sure Lynne and others from 1994 can attest to that.

        I’m sure many things have changed, some better, others perhaps worse. With a few glaring exceptions, most of the posters on this blog seem to have been at one time devoted to TLC. I am having a hard time understanding their 180 reversal of feelings.

        Surely there must be some way to resolve this conflict in the manner you learned at TLC.

        Thank you for your balanced, understanding input.

        Rosemary McIntosh

  12. Sorry Sidekikk, but TLC and its leaders are not telling the alumni the truth about the forced ousters of Fredi, Carl, Katlin and Lynn. Do you even know any of these people? Carl spoke up honestly at staff training in May and Gerry Spence publicly humiliated him after berating him for several hours. That cannot be denied. At least 50 staff members were witnesses to the public humiliation. Anyone who has been around for the last several years knows that if you disagree with Gerry Spence you will not be around for long. Ask Charlie Abourezk and John Nolte. Being thrown off the board is Carl’s punishment for speaking up and disagreeing with Gerry Spence. Gerry knows the truth. There were no good reasons for throwing the others off the board either. This is about power and control, plain and simple.

    As for psychodrama, Gerry Spence did not invent it. Without the psychodramatists, there would be no TLC. He does not own that method. TLC has gone so far beyond Gerry and his “methods,” “techniques”and his “theories” that he can’t honestly claim that what is currently being taught is anywhere close to what he does as a trial lawyer. He doesn’t do half the things that are taught at TLC. Much of what is currently taught came from others, not Gerry Spence. Gerry Spence knows the truth of this too. But he wants to take all the credit. TLC wouldn’t exist but for the others who have given so much of their time, heart, soul and energy and yes, even money to keep it going. Gerry Spence has not done this all on his own. You know it, he knows it and we know it. Let’s get real here.

    Yes, Gerry Spence is a great trial lawyer. None of us can deny that. And I haven’t heard anyone try to deny it.

    • My name is not sidekikk. It’s Rosemary.

      Yes, I know Gerry did not invent psychodrama. I attended psychodrama for 3 weeks at the Mayo Clinic long before Gerry started TLC. He never claimed he invented it. John Nolte and Don Clarkson were at the first TLC session.

      Actually, I do know several of the people involved, including Lynn — a lovely person. I’m truly sorry if she was treated badly. I also know Garvin, John Nolte, Jude Basile, many other OFWs, Board members and other staff who have contributed mightily of their time and money. I did not know Carl or Charlie.

      Have you seen Gerry in trial? I thought he used most of the “things” taught at TLC. Perhaps some were not applicable to the situation.

      I didn’t say Gerry has done all this own, but if Gerry hadn’t had the vision in the early 90s, there would be no TLC, just required CLE offerings. Would you have attended “John Smith’s Trial Lawyers College?”

      I don’t want to get in a spitting match, and Gerry certainly does not need me to defend him, but when people are angry or suspicious, they tend to lose sight of history. Why not have everyone calm down and see how everything takes its course. If by next spring, you’re still unhappy, then start your own grassroots movement to reinstate some Boaard members, change the by-laws, or whatever you think needs doing, instead of just venting on Joane’s blog.

      You still did not sign your name.

      Rosemary McIntosh

      • I think Sidekikk fits. Maybe you aren’t aware of them but NITA, AAJ (formerly ATLA), NACDL, and many, many other programs for trial lawyers are more popular, more widely attended and more respected than “Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College” which is commonly thought of in the profession as a cult and a tax shelter for a wealthy man. Perhaps Gerry Spence is the problem.

        Many of us don’t and won’t use our names on our posts because speaking up results in punishment, ostracization, condemnation and excommunication and hate mail from cult members.

  13. TLC will die if it can’t exist without Gerry Spence. He needs to let go. If he doesn’t it will certainly die when he does. I remember Charlie Abourezk saying that charismatic leaders usually kill the organizations they created because they can’t stand the thought of the organization going on without them and they won’t give up control. Looks like Charlie predicted TLC’s future.

  14. The comments on the TLC list serve about how great Jude and Gerry are and how these changes are all positive are a slap in the face to the people that were removed from the board. Also for us who really believed in the message and mission of TLC. I think that the college has done good things for many people over the past 15 years and no doubt will do more good things, assuming these “leaders” can continue to find good people to continue the work of the people who have been removed or have left in years past.

    The leaders of this college are not ones that I would like on my jury, in my neighborhood, in my church. They use people and discard them. Some will say that these are qualities of a good leader. I would too, if this were a dictatorship. Norm said as much, but Norm’s message is often lost on people because he sounds like he’s got an axe to grind (don’t we all) or that he’s got a personality disorder (again, don’t we all). If you look at the people who have been removed from the board (Carl, Lynne, Fredi and Kaitlin) and those who left the board in the past (Charlie, John, Garvin), you’ll see that they were all good, decent, trustworthy people. They, with others like Joane, were called the heart and soul of the college.

    I heard that they will continue to be on staff. Didn’t Jude say the same thing about Joane? She was supposed to be on the Advanced Regional Program, according to a flyer I got months ago. She was not there. I heard there was a favorable article written about her in The Warrior that just came out. I heard Jude pulled the article. What kind of bs is that?

    When you take away the heart and soul of organizations, you are left with working parts that are robotic unfeeling and uncaring. TLC has become very corporate in nature, with people making decisions that benefit them instead of the alumni. Many have come to the defense of Jude and Gerry, saying that these changes were made for the good of the college. But after reading Jude’s long winded explanation of his actions, you realize he has said nothing, much less anything that justified his callous treatment of people who have served the alumni well, who refused to rubber stamp the decisions of the leadership and who spoke out when they needed to.

    When Charlie and John resigned from the board and Charlie left TLC permanently, we never asked why. When Joane resigned, it was a shock to all of us. Her abrupt resignation should have prompted us to ask why, but we tried to respect her privacy. These four removals bring up similar questions of why. But again so many of us remained quiet. Why? Have we become afraid of being removed from TLC? What does that say when we put the organization above all else?

    Where’s Norm when you need him? Where are all of you?

  15. I am stunned! Just heard that TLC at the direction of its new president Jude Basile is offering its staff FREE tuiton to attend its OH Regional Seminar later this week because TLC didn’t get enough people to pay to attend. I was told that only around 33-35 non-staff people signed up and paid to attend. If this is true, those of us who are paying to attend programs will have to compete to work on our cases with those who get to come for free. This sure seems unfair to me! Can anyone confirm this?

  16. Thought we all deserved to read this and since so many of us aren’t on the list serve, I thought I would post it here as a comment. Sad that the leaders of TLC felt it necessary to pull an article from The Warrior, which is supposed to be our publication, that expressed the author’s feelings. Censorship is alive and well at TLC.


    Joyce Collier

    It was around 8:30 last night when Ian and I pulled up to Joe and Aimee’s house. Joe and Aimee’s daughters came running out of the house to show us the two baby robins that had been lying on the ground all day. Apparently, the mother robin had thrown the babies out of her nest. When Joe tried to put them back into the nest, the mom threw them out again. They looked close to dead to me.

    My son Ian, who is fifteen, asked if we could rescue them. Before I could answer, he had gloves, a shoebox and some hay. He promised the girls that he would care for them. Through the night, Ian was feeding and caring for the two little birds who he now named, finding recipes on the internet and making sure they were warm and safe. When I went to wake Ian this morning, I found him with the birds. Both birds had made it through the night.

    The Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic is less than ten miles from us. After the kids went to school, I drove over there and delivered the two birds to a young male clinician who gently examined them, told me they were robins and took them back to an incubator. One would be fine, he said. The other had a genetic condition where the neck muscles had not properly formed – a “stargazer” he called it. He thought that maybe the mother got confused and threw out the healthy robin along with the sick one.

    As I was leaving, a woman arrived from North Philadelphia with a pigeon who had been beaten up badly by a cat the night before. Once more, the young man gently took the bird into his hands and looked at it carefully, then took it back to the room with the incubators.

    There is a long dirt road leading out of the Clinic. I got to thinking about Joane again and how for nine years she has run our own wildlife rehabilitation clinic.

    My story is no different than hundreds of others. In 2001 my friend Anna Durbin and I went to the Trial Lawyers College. We had just lost a three week race discrimination case to a very large insurance company represented by a former prosecutor turned defense lawyer, who, despite committing numerous unethical acts, was on her way to becoming a federal judge. We were planning our next careers as school bus drivers who would educate children from the ground up on the law.

    During that month, we began to find our feet again. In the eight years that have followed, we have tended better to ourselves, our families and our practices. We found our light.

    There is nothing like TLC and the truth is, there is no one like Joane. For nine years she has stretched herself and the organization. Because of the tremendous sacrifices she has made, hundreds of lawyers have been able to find the true teacher within themselves. When we need to regroup, she has made sure that programs are available for us. She has published a magazine that serves as a compass as well as a tangible acknowledgement of everything that TLC has taken on. Through her psychodrama work, she has helped us to take on the hard stuff and not wavered from her commitment as a healer.

    The elephant in the room is that she is leaving because she is exhausted. We have drained her. Our egos have drained her. Our incessant demands have drained her. It is time for her to take care of herself.

    The “unfinished business” is to thank you Joane. Thank you for helping us to find the light in our eyes, to hear the laughter in our hearts again, to learn that despite everything, we are really “okay” just as we are. You may be moving on but you will never be forgotten for the strong and loving nurturer that you were to us. Know that we are here to nurture and love you as well. The energy that you helped to create is here for you to draw strength from right now.

    • Thank you David for posting Joyce’s article. And thank you Joyce for your kind words. They mean a great deal to me.

  17. I am heartsick over the goings on within TLC over the last few months. All of us should take a minute and think about what TLC does. It takes in those of us who have never felt like we belonged anywhere or struggeled to feel accepted or good about ourselves. We come to TLC and they give us an experience in bonding and acceptance many of us have never or rarely felt before but have so longed for. We are then sucked in. We are told and actually believe that we now belong to a “tribe” a “family,” a “national law firm” and have new found “brothers and sisters.” But we are seeing and have been shown over the last few months that this is only true if you adhere to the party line.(Sort of sounds like the Bush Administration. Is Jude playing the part of Gonzales who got rid of good people on the order of Bush and Cheney?) With TLC, so long as you toe the party line, do not rock the boat, kiss up to Spence and select board members who are close to him and his confidants, contribute money, bring in more people, spread the TLC gospel or the gospel according to Spence, buy his books, DVDs and TLC apparrel, you are welcome and considered a part of the family. If you leave, step out of line, speak up, challenge Spence or any of his hand selected cronies, you are labeled, kicked out and ostracized. It is sad but it is true.

    Many of the alumni do not, cannot or are unwilling to see the truth of TLC. And even those that do see it stay silent and don’t do anything to institute change. They sit silently by and/or complain in private to others who agree with them. The good TLC does is being overshadowed and corrupted by the narcissism of its leaders and by our failure to hold them accountable. By sitting in silence and accepting the spin given out by TLC leadership, by accepting only that information they choose to share (which isn’t truthful or complete) by failing to hold the leadership accountable and by failing to make them answer the tough questions being asked, we are as guilty as they are and have become part of the problem. Our failures are as much to blame for and and will contribute to the demise of TLC. So keep hiding your heads in the sand. If you are quiet, believe enough, and trust, maybe Santa Claus will become real too.

  18. Staff get to attend OH for free? Are you kidding me? That is so wrong and so unfair to those of us who are paying full price to attend plus airfare and rental car expenses. And I heard today that some “special friends” of certain board members are also getting to attend for free. TLC uses us for money, is constantly asking us to contribute to the college and join the ranch club and then rips us off when they let the staff and special select guests attend programs for free. I can’t afford the tuition of $1475. But I wasn’t told I could come for free. Who do you have to know to get that deal? And who decides who gets to come for free and who has to pay? There is something very wrong with this!

    • John: In all fairness, the staff teach at regionals at their own expense. Nobody pays their airfare. They do get food and lodging. I could never be on staff, even if I were talented enough, because I could not afford it. If you can’t afford a regional, ask for scholarship. I have gotten assistance when I asked for it. If they were allowed to go to Ohio without paying tuition, then basically people who went got the benefit of more staff to work with. I don’t think that is a bad deal and I wouldn’t dump on staff. But I agree with a lot of what people are saying about the leadership of TLC. I hope people ask the hard questions of Jude at the meeting in Dallas.

  19. This is all sad. Even after reading Jude’s letter I still don’t know or understand why Katlin, Carl, Lynne and Fredi have been removed from the board. The four of them along with Maren, Joanne and Rafe are the most creative members of the staff. I have seen and worked with them at more TLC programs than any other staff members. These folks were the creative heart and soul of TLC. With 5 of these folks forced out, the heart has been dessimated and pretty much destroyed. What is happening at TLC? Jude’s letter made no sense. These are the board members who are the most active. These are the board members who know and care about the students and the alumni. It makes me sad. Looks like TLC is becoming just another AAJ and NITA, an organization run by and for wealthy white plaintiffs lawyers. TLC isn’t unique any more. It isn’t special any more. So what it has a ranch. That isn’t enough to keep me around. Anymore TLC is just like every other trial lawyers organization. This didn’t have to happen. And we, the alumni, who support this college financially deserve more than Jude’s political position paper which tells us nothing and is belied by obvious facts. I think this is all about power and control. Someone once said, I don’t remember who, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Tell us why and tell us the truth, about why you have thrown the most creative people off the board. Doesn’t the financial heart of TLC, (the donors and alumni and students) deserve that?

  20. Why does no one seem to care that we lost the only minority member of the board (other than Milton Grimes) in the recent purging? First Joanne who is a minority in many respects, woman, hispanic, gay and now Fredi, a woman, minority and a public defender. The new president’s email to the F Warrior Board talked about diversity and the creation of a diversity committee. A great ideal but we have been down this path before.

    Do I have to remind people, especially all you F Warrior Board Members who have served on the board for a long time that there have been several diversity committees over the years? They could never get anywhere or succeed partially because no one really wanted to work on these issues and partly because TLC leadership on the “big board” did not support their efforts. Every year there is some big gender or racial incident at TLC. There are never any consequences as a result. I hear the one this July was particularly nasty and that the “N” word was used by one of the highest ranking leaders of TLC. Anyone remember the year there was a slave auction? Or how about the time an african american student was slapped? Or when a student sang Dixie?

    How about the issues of how women are treated and called derogatory names by staff and board members? Jokes made in front of the big group where women are objectified and made fun of. Anyone hear the TLC leaders claim that the women who attend TLC get upset when there is a group of them together and that their “cycles” get synced? How about when the leader of TLC claims that unqualified women and minorities are let into TLC over much more highly qualified men and that these women and minorities take up slots that should go to those men? How about the time a board member told an african american female student that the only reason she was even at TLC was because she knew another board member? All of these things have taken place and have been said. By the current leadership and current members of the board! Many of them were present when these incidents took place.

    What did or has the TLC board done when these things were said or events occurred? NOTHING. Sometimes laughed. Sometimes claimed the students were too sensitive. And the new president was a member of the board when all these incidents occurred.

    If TLC really cared about women and minorities as is now being claimed, much more would have been done in the past to include such folks in leadership roles and they would be highlighted at TLC programs instead of ignored. Ask yourselves, why is there a racial or gender incident every year? Why are there so few minorities on the staff and on the board? Why are women treated like second class citizens? Where are the minorities?

    Leadership starts at the top. A board of white folks who are mostly male and financially well off are unlikely to make any changes or even recognize the need for change.

  21. ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: judebasile@aol.com
    Date: Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 7:56 PM
    Subject: Re: Update and request for approval

    Joane is NOT on staff of any of these events. Let me be very clear. Her name must be removed from all things associated with TLC like flyers, the Warrior, There should be no articles about her in the Warrior without Board approval. Call it a prior restraint if you like. Website ( excepted listed in alumni directory) Any Questions.

  22. After finally reading Betsy Greene and Jude Basile’s emails to the alumni, all I can say is I am stunned and incredibly sad. The people who have left TLC are some of the best I have worked with and come to love. TLC is loosing its way. This is incredibly sad.

  23. Jude, tell me it isn’t so.

  24. Word is that Rex Parris was asked to resign from the TLC board but refused. So, they are making some special position for him, some sort of counsel to the board. Gee, wonder what would have happened if Lynn, Carl, Catlin and Fredi had refused to resign? This sucks!! Isn’t anyone else but me angry about this?

    Also heard a rumor that the TLC Board plans to make rules regarding the list serve and what can and can’t be posted and that they are going to throw anyone off the list serve who doesn’t speak positively about TLC. Censorship at its finest. This also sucks!!

    What the hell is going on?

  25. I am just disgusted. No one seems to care about how people are treated at TLC. No one cared that Charlie was forced out. No one cared that Nolte was forced out. No one cared that Joanne was forced out. And now no one cares that four incredible people, Katlin, Fredi, Lynne and Carl have been forced out. I guess Mardi was right. If it doesn’t directly affect us, why should we care? Seems to me this is the problem with our entire country right now. If we have our houses, our big screen TV’s, our cars and food on our table, we don’t care about anybody else. Hey Mardi, if you care so little about your fellow man, and if things don’t affect you directly, how are you possibly qualified to be a good judge? Don’t we want our judges to care about people? Especially those who suffer at the hands of those with unrestrained and arrogant power. The power to crush people who don’t agree with them or support their views. Isn’t this what is happening at TLC?

    If we sit idly by and let this happen at TLC time and time again, there won’t be any good people left. Aren’t there more of us than the few who have posted comments on this blog or the few who have spoken up on the list serve who care about how people are being treated by the leaders of TLC? I didn’t think this was what TLC stands for and is about. I thought we cared about people. Doesn’t Gerry say “caring is contagious?” Were those just words? Or does he and his board just care about themselves? I am sick that more people aren’t speaking up. I am sick that the list serve is pretty silent about this whole bloodletting. I am sick that more of us don’t seem to care. Isn’t that what we were supposed to have learned at the TLC programs we have been too? Reverse roles with all of the folks who have been forced out and ask yourselves how would you feel? Or have you forgotten how to reverse roles? What say you people? Am I alone?

  26. I finally heard the news of the recent removals from the TLC board. (I am behind in my TLC email.) After my initial shock, now I am jut plain sad. Given this turn of events, not sure I want to participate in any more TLC programs. Seems to me they have gotten rid of the most caring, dedicated and creative people. All in the name of power, ego and control. Is this what TLC is about?

  27. Why? Why? Can anyone please explain why? I don’t buy Jude’s explanation. Just another politicians lies and excuses. I thought TLC was different. Obviously I was wrong. And I have no interest in seeing him strut his ego at the meeting in Dallas or being around a bunch of TLC cult members. I am done with TLC and am keeping my money to give to more worthy organizations who practice what they preach. There is enough of this shit in the world, I don’t need to suffer through it voluntarily or to pay for it.

  28. I am truly disapointed in TLC and in all of us, myself included. By my estimate, there are somewhere around 1,000 TLC alumni and probably a few thousand regional alumni. But none of us are doing a damn thing about what the TLC leadership has done and appears to be doing. The way they have treated good people who have given so much is not what TLC stands for or is supposed to be about. But we do nothing. We accept it just like we accepted all the bad stuff the Bush administration did. Most of us are silent. Most of us continue to give money. And most of us will continue to accept whatever the new regime gives us. We are good cult members. Go along to get along. God forbid any of us speak out or disagree. Not only will leadership get rid of you, the “tribe” will abandoned you as well. I don’t get it. This isn’t a group I want to belong to.

  29. I’d rather post on your and Norm’s blogs than the TLC list serves. I was talking to some TLC friends over the last few days and in addition to our mutual feelings that the leadership of TLC just can’t be trusted, some have heard that TLC plans to shut down the list serve because they don’t like the negative things some folks are posting there. Guess they want to control all information about TLC and censorship is the answer. The other hot topic of discussion is that Jim Fitzgerald turned down Jude’s invitation to join the TLC Board. Finally someone with integrity who has no desire to join Jude’s inner circle or to suck up to Spence and do his bidding!

  30. Norm is back and his blog is cooking! Happy that we alums have two blogs to post on. Sure beats the list serve that is filled with sycophants who worship Spence.

    I found most interesting Norm’s statement that Rex Parris contacted him 3 weeks ago and said they haven’t talked in a long time and should remedy that. Hmmmm……wonder what Big Gerry thinks of that? Or did he instruct Rex to contact Norm, try to get close to him and get info under the guise of renewed friendship. Was Rex the man for whom Norm brokered the deal to get him on the board? I suspect he was.

    Questions, questions, questions. But like all others posed on the blogs and the list serve, no answers will be forthcoming from TLC. Doesn’t that bother any one but me?

    • I haven’t seen anything critical of TLC, Gerry, or Jude for days on the listserve. Has censorship already begun on the TLC listserve?

  31. Norm’s favorite word is “sycophant”

    Context from Wikepida:
    In a modern context a sycophant (from the Greek συκοφάντης sykophántēs) is a servile person who, acting in his or her own self-interest, attempts to win favor by flattering one or more influential persons, or by saying lies against a fellow citizen for gaining a kind of profit

    These actions are executed at the cost of his or her own personal pride, principles, and peer respect. Such a manner is also called obsequiousness.”

    Norm is a big sychophant, all one has to do is read his blog.
    He should change the name of his blog to the DAILY
    Sycophantic SCREAMER for all the ANNONS who are TLC members, as Jake and others are here, an some are over at Norm’s blog board in sync, some sync methods. Norm goes and whines to his cyber pal, Scott Greenfeild to run some hacky cult piece.
    It never was paid much attention to it was so poorly written.
    Norm and his loopy scribes, who mostly whines,
    and runs his sycophantic diatribes.
    But, must be like carrying coals to Newcastle–here.

  32. I agree with the comment from Anonymous on 10/16—“…none of us are doing a damn thing about what the TLC leadership has done and appears to be doing.” Most people don’t know what happened and are more confused after reading Jude’s obtuse letter to the alumni. Here’s what is going on folks, just in case you didn’t get it the first time: Last fall, Gerry named Jude as the crown prince of TLC. Jude promised to look into the finances of TLC, the lease, and the relationship between the Spence Foundation and TLC, among other things. But once he got what he wanted, Jude turned into a power hungry apologist. He became Gerry’s mouthpiece and henchman, stripped the bylaws of their significance by hiring an inexperienced Executive Director who is functioning as his administrative assistant and by removing without vote or discussion, four dedicated board members. What exactly is Jude’s vision for TLC? Neither the letter to the alumni or his insipid President’s message in The Warrior shed much light. Those two poorly written pieces were embarrassing to anyone who value English as the language of the educated and illustrate what is in store for those willing to watch this organization die.

    To further recap: Jude hired only one psychodramatist for the upcoming regionals in January, February, March and April (previous practice was two) and hired Josh only for Asilomar (previous practice was Josh went to every regional except for the psychodrama one). Jude has not required his ED to attend the sessions of any TLC program (Joane attended all the sessions and often taught many of the small group sessions). Despite the much heralded announcement that the new ED would go to TLC as a student in the September program, the new ED only went to the psychodrama sessions, less than 5 days of the 21. The new ED cannot teach a session, much less train staff for upcoming programs. Jude has been coy about whether he will ask Carl, Lynne or Fredi to teach. One thing for sure, if and when I attend another seminar, I want to know who is staffing it. Most of the staff is good but some, frankly, are awful. Jude talked about the importance of diversity but there is no plan to increase diversity on the board, the staff and the students. In Jude’s eyes, intention functions as action.

    Remember, Jude is doing all of this with Gerry’s blessing or more maybe, at his behest.

    Why should any of us give a damn? Because an organization we cared about and supported over the years is being bastardized. And nothing is being done about it. I didn’t think we were ostriches. But we are acting like them, and I can’t understand that. I want to know what the hell is going on and I find it frightening that the only places to get some truth are Joane and Norm’s blog. That’s like relying on BBC if you really want to know what is going on in the good old US of A.

    If you care about TLC, get off your ass. Else, you are going to discover that the people and programs you cared about have simply disappeared. What will take their place are run-of-the-mill trial ad courses with staff trained by Jude and his inexperienced ED, the sole difference is those endless fundraisers. You want to save this college? Do something. Don’t wait for someone else. Ask questions, insistently, loudly, unceasingly. If you don’t get the answers you expect from a college that advertises a caring environment, then build the place that does.

    • Wish – I couldn’t agree with you more. But too many TLC people really don’t give a damn. They are like Mardi who doesn’t care so long as her cell phone company still provides service….If it doesn’t impact me, what do I care. All the little TLC psycofants are going off to Dallas to kiss Jude’s ass so they too can be on staff or get on the board when the next bloodletting takes place. Deaf, dumb and blind. Sadly, none of the alumni are doing to damn thing and won’t ever do a damn thing. They are all sitting at home watching their mailboxes for the invitation to staff training. Simply pathetic!

      Gustav gus9er@aol.com

  33. But hey, maybe we’ll get to have more Power Point presentations by Rex, or Zelbst can tell us how awesome he is. Now that’s motivational.

    • Sigh, we can only wish. Maybe they can throw a lesson on how to buy a private plane or a house in the tropics or a 400 acre ranch…

  34. “Wish I Could Sign My Name . . .” wrote: “Despite the much heralded announcement that the new ED would go to TLC as a student in the September program, the new ED only went to the psychodrama sessions, less than 5 days of the 21.”
    Dear Wish:
    Laurie Goodman attended less than 5 days of the September college? Huh? Did you attend the September College? I did. Where did you get this nonsense? Where do you get off speaking lies (or blindly parroting misinformation) crap and claiming to care about getting “some truth.”

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