Speaking Out – By Carl Bettinger

December 7, 2009

For the past few months  I’ve thought of little but Larry Selk’s story, the profoundly disabled man who was sodomized in a resident care home.  Towards the end of my closing, I told the jurors that I recognized that it is scary to speak up and be heard, yet doing so is sometimes necessary. I should not ask of my jurors anything more than I ask of myself.

During the trial, I was asked to staff Round Top in February.  Normally, I would have signed on without a moment’s hesitation.  I’ve decided not to staff the Round Top program. This is the first time I have not accepted a request to staff that was not related to work or family matters since I began staffing in 2003.  I can go to Texas in February, but I choose not to. This isn’t easy for me, as I believe that the TLC which now exists is one that may decide to remove me from staff for speaking up, a removal that I do not want, but if I can’t say what I want and need to say without fear of retribution, I don’t belong here.

Two months ago, when I showed up to staff the Advanced Program at the Ranch, I was asked by Jude Basile to resign from the Board. While it was deemed a “request”, there did not seem to be any volition involved. I agreed to do so, as I was planning to resign after the Board Meeting in January, 2010. However, I  was bothered by the timing of it, and the disingenuous way it was done. It occurred the first night that staff showed up for the program and without any forewarning. The decision to ask for my resignation clearly had been made long in advance of my arrival. To me it felt as though I had been kept in the dark so that I would prepare for and show up to staff the Advanced without having a chance to consider whether to attend at all under the circumstances. To my knowledge, my “resignation” from the Board, and those of Lynne Bratcher, Katlin Larimer and Fredi Sison, were requested without a formal Board vote.

There have been many changes in recent years at TLC that trouble me, and many relate the extent to which important decisions are made behind closed doors. I am not suggesting that the Board not make decisions, but why are the minutes not available to all alumni? In fact, why does the Board self-select? Why not an election of Board members by the alumni? Since people have questions about the finances, why not simply post the books to the web page so any alum can examine them? When I was on the Board (albeit the shortest tenure ever for any Board member!), I was shown the books. Why not show them to everyone? Why are staff evaluations not disclosed to the very staff being evaluated, and how many of you know this is the practice, i.e., not to show them to staff?

Why are so many decisions, particularly those of consequence, made in secret? Who has been removed from staff, when, and by whom? Will this be formally announced, or will these staff simply disappear? It would seem that Joane is no longer a member of the TLC staff. When was this decision made? And by whom? Why not put it to a vote of the alumni, many of whom return again and again as students?     Why should so many, particularly staff, feel reluctant to speak up for fear of retribution? During Grad II, Fredi Sison utilized a modified psychodramatic  exercise which probably has a formal name, but I will call “Step-in.” The group forms a large circle. A person steps in and says, “Who else here [fill in the blank]?”  Our psychodramatists had used this in other contexts before, usually asking people for a personal sharing. This time, however, the share was not limited. Participants asked wonderful questions, e.g., “Who else here has had to care for a dying loved one?”; “Who has ever lived with a mentally ill person?” “Who considers their body a friend?”   A collection of these would be enough for a book on jury selection. I asked, “Who is afraid to speak their truth at TLC for fear of retribution of some sort?” Many group members stepped in. After this year’s staff training, I suspect that number would be much higher if that question were posed to the staff.

My concerns include the loss or marginalization of those who, to my way of thinking, make TLC possible, particularly the psychodramatists.  It should go without saying that our psychodramatists are the finest of their kind in the world. To say we are lucky to have them is like saying the world is lucky to have oxygen. Yet, they have become increasingly marginalized over the years, particularly this year in the way they have not been fairly compensated. (If money is a problem, I sincerely doubt that the TLC community would not do what is necessary.) The college’s curriculum is unique because of psychodrama, and it succeeds because of psychodrama.  John Nolte,  who had been with the College from its earliest times, has contributed much over the years.  Not only his outstanding psychodramatic skills, but his sense of humor, his compassion, his sense of fair play have made this college a special place for so many.  He told me he had been invited to Round Top, but that TLC would not pay his way (although one Board member graciously offered to pay for it personally); rather he was expected to pay his own way and to teach without pay.  I find that insulting.  Katlin has been responsible for many of the exercises that we use at the college. She has the most institutional knowledge of all, but has been increasingly sidelined. Don is our guru on groups, Kathie our luminary on speaking your mind, and Louise Lipman, our newest, is out of this world. They are part of the very essence of TLC, yet are being treated as though they are otherwise.

My concerns continue with other fantastic staff we have lost over the years. Charlie Abourezk is gone. Garvin Isaacs is gone. Susan Mindenbergs, Cricket. All gone, either by their choice or design. Joane was told she would be asked to staff and she has not been, nor would there appear to be any intention to ask her.  Fredi Sison would appear to have joined this circle of non-staff. After Joane left, Fredi volunteered as the executive director of two programs, Grad II and the Advanced, both of which turned out great. She not only oversaw each program, but she created the curriculum and developed a new exercise (which I referred to in my postings about my recent trial as the “social atom”, but which my notes from Grad II label “Exploring the Cast”).  Are there any public defenders left on staff?

We are losing some of the best people in the college.  Some have left by their own choice, and some have been forced out. Obviously, the leadership can choose whomever they want to be part of the college, be it student or staff.  But they shouldn’t get to do so without anyone speaking up. In his nearly celestial eloquence, Dr. King once said that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

At the risk of being the latest to be pushed out the door, this is my way of honoring my friends and Larry’s jurors.



  1. I applaud you Carl for your courage. I have been disheartened by what TLC has been doing for the last many months and really years. First Kay left and was treated badly by TLC and Gerry. Then Joanne left and has also been treated badly. Norm Pattis raised many questions in his blog but TLC has not answered any of them. Alumni blog links were shut down to silence people. Then you, Katlyn, Fredi and Lynne were thrown off the board. Jude wouldn’t allow an article about Joanne to be published in the Warrior and threw her off the staff. Now he is pushing aside other good teachers like Fredi. And I am sure others have been thrown off the staff but we are not being told about it. I seriously doubt anyone on the board would tell us the truth anyway.

    I was sick when Gerry publically humiliated you at staff training and angry at myself for not speaking up to defend you. What Gerry did during staff training was so wrong and throwing you, Katlyn, Fredi and Lynne off the board was wrong. And now, not having Joanne or Fredi on staff is another wrong step. TLC is loosing its way. They claim to be about love and inclusion but the board is proving and demonstrating that all of that is just a lie.

    TLC is only about money. There are no public defenders on the board and few on the staff. Very few minorities are on the staff and only one on the board, Milton Grimes. The board is made up of a bunch of rich white folks. Civil defense lawyers are let into TLC because they are connected to board members. And if you want to get put on staff, just suck up to and inflate the ego of those on the board. Board members actively solicit students for cases. We are constantly being asked to give money to TLC, to pay for Gerry Spence’s ranch. TLC has really gone far afield of it mission statement. And no one seems to care.

    Now we have an Executive Director who isn’t even a lawyer and doesn’t have the first clue about how TLC works, how lawyers work, or even about psychodrama. The Psychodramatists are being marginalized and treated horribly. Their compensation and participation has been reduced. And I agree with you, it was incredibly insulting to ask John Nolte to come to a seminar but advise him he would have to pay his own way and would not be compensated. What arrogance on the part of the person inviting him and what an insult.

    It’s time for me to stop supporting or participating in TLC programs. I do not have the stomach to be involved with such a dishonest, hypocritical and hateful organization.

  2. Bravo Carl!! I am so grateful that you have spoken out.

  3. Speaking out should be the norm, not the exception. Bravo. and may more FWarriors and Staff or Former staff speak out about anything without fear of reprisal.

    • Speaking out is definitely the exception at TLC. It is a big NO NO!

  4. Speaking out at TLC always results in some sort of punishment. Just ask those who are gone. Nearly all are gone because they either spoke out, questioned Gerry Spence, or would not rubber stamp something he wanted done. Charlie Abourezk is gone because he questioned the lease Gerry forced upon TLC and because he wanted an independent lawyer to advise TLC about the lease. Nolte is gone because John Zelbst and Rex Parris didn’t want him around anymore and Gerry sided with his monied friends.

    TLC is not about love, truth or honesty. The people involved are not a family. Many of the alumni and staff will just turn their backs on those people who speak out or who the big board doesn’t want around anymore. God forbid they speak out, that might mean they will be thrown off the staff or never invited to join the staff or maybe Gerry Spence won’t like them anymore. People who speak out at TLC are ostracized and excommunicated. TLC has become just like the corporations Gerry rails against and is more concerned with money than people. And we have become the slaves of TLC. Maybe it is time to break the chains.

  5. Come on people. TLC is nothing more than a cult. This is what cults do. They excommunicate anyone who speaks out about the cult and who do not swear allegiance to the party line or the leaders of the cult. TLC is a cult plain and simple. They will continue throwing out and ostracizing anyone who criticizes them, speaks out against them or tells the truth about them. Breaking away from a cult is extremely hard. And if you speak out or leave, you will find little support from people who have professed to be your friends, your brothers and sisters and your family. It is all a lie and we are all fools for buying into the propoganda. We all need to wake up!

  6. I am through with TLC. If Carl, Fredi, Joanne, Lynn and Katlin aren’t good enough for TLC, then I don’t want anything to do with it. Why on earth would the new leadership get rid of such talented and creative folks? TLC is becoming like AAJ and Nita. They only value people “in the club” and who have given or give money. It is disgusting. TLC has become everything it says it is against.

  7. We have never heard from the new Executive Director until today. Sorry, but her efforts are too little too late. She doesn’t have a clue. The leadership of TLC can go ahead and create whatever “team” they want with Mr. Basile as the “quarterback.” But getting rid of some of the most talented and creative people is just bullshit. I think it was Charlie Abouresk who said years ago that Gerry would kill TLC. Well, looks like Charlie was right and Gerry has killed TLC. Good riddance!

  8. Fed Up, what are you referring to re: the new Executive Director? Did she post something to the listserve?

    • She posted some horseshit to the trialwarriorsforjustice list serve that the seminar alumni have.

  9. I think the world of Carl and Joanne too, but I don’t think TLC is a “dishonest, hypocritical and hateful organization”. At some point in life we all expirence changes. Right now TLC is undergoing a lot of changes. The people making the changes are having a rough time making them and the people effected by the changes are having an even rougher time dealing with them. However I truely believe that deep down there is a reason that TLC is here. And, more importantly, there is a reason to have TLC in the future.

    TLC needs to survive because it is somethng that makes positive changes in people’s lives. Both for lawyers and their clients. There may be justifiable reasons to be really mad about what has happened, and will probably happen in the future, but there are millions of reasons why TLC should be around in the future. I hope that Carl, Joaane, John and Fredi are part of that future. But no matter what happens the gifts that they have given us cannot be taken away.

  10. The following are the postings on one of the TLC list serves:

    From: laurie goodman
    Date: December 7, 2009 4:55:13 PM PST
    To: trialwarriorsforjustice@yahoogroups.com

    Subject: Re: [trialwarriorsforjustice] Fwd: [TLC] Speaking out
    Reply-To: trialwarriorsforjustice@yahoogroups.com

    Thank you Jin, to you and the many others today who called to tell me not to get too caught up in this latest mini-drama!!! I believe I’ll take that advice and continue on with all the work on my desk to develop a new web-page, seek ways to improve open communications with and among our alumnae, get the word out about the upcoming Regional Seminars, work with Jude on all the exciting plans for the staff training in May, get the latest Warrior issue to the printer and take all the help that has been offered my way! While I’m new to psycho-drama and this organization, it seems to me that it would go a long ways to being kind to our fellow warriors if people did a little role-reversal with the folks whom they criticize so freely in these emails before they hit the send button!!!
    I look forward to being a part of this tribe!

    On Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 5:36 PM, Jim McMillen wrote:


    Welcome to the TLC family— there is none like us! We love – we fight—you will work your heart out and feel rejected—you will go home and ask why did I ever do this –they all hate me – don’t they understand ? At your lowest moment pick up the phone and ask for help and we will run to your aid. Like old Frosty we found the magic under that old black hat. Remember we are indeed family. Don’t try to handle everything on your own – the task are too great—we are there to help when you need us. We all share the victories and the pain of rejection. We all ask ourselves – why did I ever do this – we all feel we are a total failures and resign to give it up. Then the call will come asking us for help– we toss and turn as we try to sleep—this is wrong – I got to do my part to help—what will they do if I say no? We pick ourselves up and go to battle and we discovery stories of angles and heroes.

    Welcome to the family – you will find much love here.

    Jin McMillen


    All I can say after reading the words from the new ED, is that TLC is in big trouble. Why do we need a new webpage? The one we have now is one of the best I have ever seen. How much are the changes costing? Improving communication with the alumni? This is the first I’ve seen anything from her, and it’s not even posted on the regular list serve. She says Carl should do a role reversal. with some of the people he criticizes. That would be hard, even for someone as talented as Carl since I don’t think he can do mean, obtuse and arrogant. She does not address any of the issues Carl brought up and prefers to see the world through rose-colored glasses. When people stop going to TLC programs and stop donating, hers will be the shortest tenure in TLC’s history.

    Jim, you talk about the love in this organization. Where is it? Have you even spoken to any of the people that the TLC leadership have stabbed in the back? Have you reversed roles with any of them to truly understand the pain they felt in how they’ve been treated?

    TLC has lost a lot of great people, and not just the ones Carl mentions. People have gotten so sick of the bullshit and the glossing over of these events that they have just left. Without a word. This is not how people treat people they love. It may be “family” to some, but it’s not the kind of family I want to be a part of. Family members care about each other. From some of the comments I’ve read, I see more sucking up than anything else.

    How sad.

  11. Jim and Laurie are both naive and view TLC with rose colored glasses. TLC is not about love, nor is it a family. Families don’t treat people the way the TLC leadership has treated some people over the last several months. We have been lied to.

  12. TLC is a corporation run by a lawyer, Gerry Spence, who exploits his name to make more money and increase his fame. He is a has been and TLC is all he has. But TLC is all about money. Fundraisers to pay for Spence’s ranch so he doesn’t have to. TLC only uses the Ranch for about 10-12 weeks of the year yet pays for 12 months and every single expense. Now Spence’s wife is spending TLC’s money to remodel the Ranch that the Spence Foundation owns. TLC paid for Spence’s son to work at the ranch doing carpentry and construction work because he didn’t have a job. What a sham! I know many of us have given donations for scholarships for women, minorities and public defenders. Yet there isn’t a single public defender on the board. And there is only one minority on the board. I have heard that the board took nearly all the money in the scholarship fund to pay for the death penalty college. If they used money we gave that was to go to public defenders, minorities and women for the death penalty college, they have violated the law. If a donor specifies a specific use of a donation the entity cannot use the money for any other purpose. But here again, Spence and his cronies led by Basile think they can do anything they want, that they don’t have to be accountable to donors and that they are above the law. Something is wrong here. I am through.

  13. I wish people would see Carl’s post for what it is: a wake-up call. Here is a guy that juries obviously trust, telling the truth about TLC management. He is doing it at a personal cost—most likely he will be thrown off the staff. But who is paying attention to what he’s saying? The clueless new ED apparently thinks this is just a “mini-drama.” So when the TLC leadership lies, marginalizes good people, doesn’t bother to address concerns of the group, banishes dissenters, it’s a mini-drama? And all ll of us are OK with that? I wonder what qualifies as a major drama for these people?

    If any of your clients were treated the way John, Charlie, Joane, Katlin, Lynne, Fredi,etc were treated, would you not fight for them? Talk about the ultimate betrayal, the new catchword of TLC. I wish other staff members, F Warriors and board members with integrity had commented publicly about any of the points Carl made. Why haven’t they?

    Carl is probably better off not being on staff, except it’s a loss to us. I can’t see why he would want to spend any time with the management and the new ED.

    The silence of friends is indeed what we remember the most. Thanks, Carl, for being the change you want to see in the world (Gandhi). I just hope others join you.

    • The blind acceptance of what TLC leadership has done to good people is disgusting. This is not what TLC is about. The silent acceptance by so many proves that TLC is filled with people who have no courage. They are going along to get along because they are afraid to be thrown out of the “tribe.” What utter selfish bullshit. I guess it is ok to treat people badly, to lie, to marginalize, to ostracize and to throw aside folks who have given so much of their hearts and souls to help you. It takes courage to speak out. Carl has courage. Most of the staff and alumni do not. I personally hope that those folks who have been tossed aside quit TLC because neither TLC nor its alumni deserve the gifts these folks have given. And why in hell would they even want to be a part of a group whose leadership treats people this way and whose members silently accept, condone and promote such behavior by their silence? And many of you argue that TLC is NOT a cult? Give me a break!

  14. What is that poem – First they came for the jews, and I did not speak up. etc……
    This is just the beginning folks. Wake up, realize the truth and speak up! TLC is a sick, dysfunctional organization and all of you fringe suckers are part of the problem because you don’t have the guts to speak out against the tyrannical leadership. Your silence promotes the bad behavior of the leaders. Can’t you see that the TLC management does not follow its own propoganda? I am just shocked that so many folks are happy to go along with all the shit that is happening. Reverse roles with the folks who have been thrown out. How would you feel? How would it feel when the alumni were silent or supported the leadership when you have been treated like garbage? Some “family!” I for one don’t want to be a part of a “family” that treats people this way.

  15. The TLC that was is dead, never to rise again. I know some of us are having a hard time accepting that, but it is true. It has become an institution driven by power, ego and money. We can’t go back. TLC has become everything we fight against. But our incredible need and hunger to belong won’t let us mourn or grieve. We simply don’t want to believe.

    TLC is now about who you know (that is how you get in to the full length program to begin with and how you get on staff), how much money you give and how loyal you will be to the new leadership. This was never what TLC was supposed to be about. There was a civil defense lawyer at TLC this Sept. who got in because he had a connection to John Zelbst. There have been people let in because they made large donations. There have been people let in because they know, are close to, worked with or sucked up to various board members. There have been people put on staff because they sucked up to and fed the egos of Jude Basile and Rafe Foreman and others. There are people on staff because they hired Katlin Larimer for consults. TLC is not what it professes to be. It has become a club for rich, white civil lawyers. This is not what TLC was intended to be.

  16. I have an idea, let’s get rid of all the psychodramatists from TLC. As Tom Metier put it at the annual meeting, we don’t need them because we have each other. So, let’s get rid of them entirely. They cost too much.

    Let’s see how many of you sit back and accept that decision by the board. Looks like it might be coming. They have reduced the number of psychodramatists at regionals. They have drastically reduced the compensation of the psychodramatists. So the next step would appear to be elimination of the psychodramatists. All part of the “change” all you sychophants support and endorse. Change is hard. Change is necessary.

    The psychodramatists and others have been treated like shit by the board and you people sit back and accept it as part of necessary “change.” Unf—ingbelievable!

  17. The following was posted to the list serve by Laurie Goodman. My comments follow after Gerry’s BS, propoganda and crap!

    From Gerry Spence

    Re: In response to Carl Bettinger’s “Speaking Out.”

    Several have sent me Carl’s “speaking out,” as posted on the list serve. His posting hurt me. As we teach, the mirror is always at work. No doubt my pain reflects Carl’s as well.

    We teach listening. And we teach that we must be able to crawl inside the hide of the other. We must not forget our teaching. We demand that a juror gives our client the presumption of innocence, but too often we refuse to give that presumption to those closest to us.

    Dissension is not only healthy, it is essential to our survival. As we teach, without opposing views the correct way will remain obscure. We have always invited the opposing view. But a personal attack on those with whom we disagree but who struggle so hard and sacrifice so much for us is not healthy, nor is it courageous. Once the decision has been made, once the train leaves, we all must get aboard to fight the battle out there. In that we must not fail. The battle must never in here. If it is, we will always fail.

    Jude has taken on the nearly incomparable challenge of reorganizing our college to launch a new and more powerful school to train and fight for the masses of people’s attorneys who struggle in a judicial system that is broken and in a society that scorns and forsakes them, a system that, at last, betrays the people’s trust. The people depend on us for their rights. Ours is a sacred trust. It transcends the individual and looks to the family and the tribe for its strength.

    Jude has accepted this daunting task with my assurance that he can look to each of you for your love and support, your work, your creativity and the gift of yourselves including your dissent.

    Without you we will fail, and when we fail, not only will trial lawyers be weakened and at last cast aside, but so will the rights of our citizens be lost to the relentless power of government and corporate greed. We cannot succeed without your love, your faith and your tireless support. And your loyalty. We love and respect each of you.



    Oh boo hoo hoo. Gerry Spence has been hurt. Has he stopped for one minute to think about how he has hurt people deeply, people who have given so much to TLC? I seriously doubt it. Narcissists only think about themselves and Gerry Spence is perhaps the biggest narcissist on the face of the earth. If TLC loves and respects each of us, why have some people been excommunicated? Why does he demand loyalty? Why have all the links to alumni blogs been shut down? Because TLC can’t bear dissent. TLC doesn’t want any criticism. TLC wants everyone to tow the party line and get on board the Spence cult machine. He is using each of us to build his legacy and to pay for his ranch.

    Gerry’s email message to the alumni is filled with hyperbole, propoganda and nothing but lies. Gerry Spence is a bully. He bullied and abused both Charlie Abourezk and John Nolte. He bullies women. He bullies minorities. Ask him about using the “N” word during July’s TLC. Ask him about the slave auction he held one year or the time he slapped an African American Student. He bullied Katlin and he and Jude together interrogated her for several hours when they forced her to resign from the board. They attacked her.

    Gerry attacked Carl at staff training and said horrible, awful, hateful, mean and spiteful things about him and Jude Basile and Jim Nugent sat there and participated in the attack on Carl. It wasn’t the first time either. For months Gerry told anyone who listened that Carl wanted to take over TLC. Gerry then proceeded to publicly humiliate Carl.

    Carl’s “Speaking Out” post did not attack anyone. For Gerry to claim it did is disingenuous and panders to the fringe sucking, cool aid drinking masses. Essentially, Gerry says once he and his board of cronies make a decision we MUST get on board with it. “Once the decision has been made, once the train leaves, we all must get aboard to fight the battle out there.” So, once WE the board have spoken, do not question us, do not criticize us, just get on board, no matter how wrong our decision us, or how unethical, immoral or unfair. We make the rules, you follow them. How dare you question me or my hand selected board.

    And since when has TLC embraced or welcomed dissension. Tell that to all the people it has silenced and ostracized. Tell it to Nancy Hollander, Joe Guastafero, Steve Rench, Charlie Abourezk, John Nolte, Fredi, Joanne, Katlin, Norm, and Carl and to all the others who have been thrown out or who have silently left because of the acts and conduct of Spence and his fringe sucking board. Tell that to all the minorities who have dared speak up over the years about the racism at the ranch. Tell that to the women Gerry has called “bitch,” “cunt” etc. and who have been marginalized and victimized by him and others at TLC. TLC has betrayed our trust. TLC is no family and no tribe. Families don’t kick people out. Gerry Spence speaks with a forked tongue.

    I choose to remain anonymous because TLC does indeed punish those who criticize or speak out against it, the decisions of the board or of Gerry Spence. There is plenty of evidence that this is indeed the case. No amount of spin by Spence, Jude or anyone else changes the facts.

    • Carl, haven’t you learned your lesson? Wasn’t being woodsheded by Gerry Spence and then publically humiliated at staff training enough? And then to be woodsheded again and thrown off the board? Where is your self respect? And now you have hurt Gerry’s feelings and have dared to display disloyalty by telling the truth and raising questions. What the F is wrong with you? Why in hell would you want anything to do with this organization and the leadership that treats people, good caring people such as yourself like shit? I really admire your courage in speaking up but I do not understand or admire your lack of self respect for being willing to come back for more. Not just once, but now multiple times. TLC is not the be all and end all and your willingness to come back speaks of your desperation to be a part of this sick organization. By coming back you are helping TLC continue to abuse people who give so much because you are saying, through your actions, that the way they treat people is ok. If more were willing to walk away, maybe things would change. By staying, you essentially put a stamp of approval on the behavior of TLC management. I am really disappointed in you. I guess you need the love and approval of Gerry and Jude so much you will sacrifice yourself to get it. Pathetic and sad.

      • I couldn’t agree more. Why does Carl keep putting his head on the chopping block? He must not care how he is treated. There must be something deep inside him that thinks he deserves to be treated badly. Why does he tolerate this treatment, both of himself and his friends?

        And frankly, what is wrong with Katlyn, Lynn and Fredi for also continuing to participate in TLC. Don’t you guys get it? You and your gifts are NOT wanted. Why go back for more abuse? At least John Nolte and Charlie Abourezk had the self respect to leave TLC. Where is all of yours? I guess for Katlyn, the money is more important then her self respect and integrity.

        According to Jude, both in his speech in Dallas and per his little messenger Nick Rowley, he is “good friends” with Katlin and Carl. With a friend like him, who needs enemies.

  18. Below is Gerry’s response to Carl’s posting for those of you not on the list serve. My take on it? “The Mighty have spoken, Carl. Now shut up and get in line or get out.”

    Why would Carl want to waste his time and work for these people?

    From Gerry Spence

    Re: In response to Carl Bettinger’s “Speaking Out.”

    Several have sent me Carl’s “speaking out,” as posted on the list serve. His posting hurt me. As we teach, the mirror is always at work. No doubt my pain reflects Carl’s as well.

    We teach listening. And we teach that we must be able to crawl inside the hide of the other. We must not forget our teaching. We demand that a juror gives our client the presumption of innocence, but too often we refuse to give that presumption to those closest to us.

    Dissension is not only healthy, it is essential to our survival. As we teach, without opposing views the correct way will remain obscure. We have always invited the opposing view. But a personal attack on those with whom we disagree but who struggle so hard and sacrifice so much for us is not healthy, nor is it courageous. Once the decision has been made, once the train leaves, we all must get aboard to fight the battle out there. In that we must not fail. The battle must never in here. If it is, we will always fail.

    Jude has taken on the nearly incomparable challenge of reorganizing our college to launch a new and more powerful school to train and fight for the masses of people’s attorneys who struggle in a judicial system that is broken and in a society that scorns and forsakes them, a system that, at last, betrays the people’s trust. The people depend on us for their rights. Ours is a sacred trust. It transcends the individual and looks to the family and the tribe for its strength.

    Jude has accepted this daunting task with my assurance that he can look to each of you for your love and support, your work, your creativity and the gift of yourselves including your dissent.

    Without you we will fail, and when we fail, not only will trial lawyers be weakened and at last cast aside, but so will the rights of our citizens be lost to the relentless power of government and corporate greed. We cannot succeed without your love, your faith and your tireless support. And your loyalty. We love and respect each of you.



  19. Golly! After reading the latest postings by Gerry, Jude, Carl and other alumni, I’m sure glad I’m not on staff or signed up for any TLC programs. Thank God I’m not donating any money either—I’d be better off burning bills if this is what it would go to support. Some of the postings are naive. People with no institutional knowledge are saying all sorts of things that show their ignorance. That kool-aid must have tasted pretty good going down. Yea, it’d be nice if people got along, but this is TLC land. There is always more to the story. You went to college and law school. Please think critically and get all your facts. Otherwise you’re just another prosecutor or civil defense lawyer.

    • I agree 100% Gomer. TLC folks are blind and blindly follow Spence and swear allegiance and loyalty when asked. And isn’t that essentially what his email to the list serve in response to Carl Bettinger said? Give us your loyalty. You are either with us or against us. Sounds like the Bush Administration to me.

  20. Poor Jude. Can’t even fight his own battles. Big Daddy had to go rescue him.

    • And now he has sent his newest cronie, Nick Rowley, to defend him. Hey Nick, get a clue. Jude is NOT good friends with Carl. Or with Fredi, Lynne, Katlin, Joanne or Nolte. Good friends don’t treat each other the way Jude has treated these people. It’s just a crock of shit. Jude’s behavior is all about power and control. When you have served your purpose, he will dump you too. He has learned how to treat people from Spence, who as a narcissist, has no clue how to treat people because he is so busy thinking about himself. These are selfish people who don’t care about anyone but themselves, their own power and money.

  21. It was stated at the Texas Retreat by a TLC Board Member, without elaboration, that big changes are coming to the listserve. Any guesses about what that will mean and how quickly it will happen?

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Jude made changes to the listserve, but anything approaching censorship would be a colossal mistake. It also wouldn’t surprise me if this mistake was made, but it would be yet another disappointment.

    • Censorship already exists on the list serve. Norm Pattis has been removed from the list serve. I am told others have been removed too. Links to alumni blogs have been disconnected because the board doesn’t want anyone saying anything negative about TLC.

      Censorship exists with the Warrior too. Remember Jude refused to publish an article written about Joanne. And just try to get something published that isn’t glowing or that in any way criticizes TLC or Spence.

      Oh and censorship exists on the staff too. Just ask Carl how he was treated at staff training when he responded honestly to a question Gerry asked the entire staff.

      And isn’t it censorship to remove people from the board who will ask tough questions or have divergent points of view? Why do you think Carl, Katlin, Fredi and Lynne were thrown off?

      And how about censorship of Charlie Abourezk and John Nolte. Both dared to speak up and challenge Gerry about the lease and other things so he forced them to resign from the board.

      Censorship is the guiding principle at TLC. Ziek Hiel Spence!

  22. how come two of the three lawyers thrown off the board, Lynn and Carl, were asked to staff and Fredi wasn’t? the only difference i see is that Fredi is a minority and a public defender. Lynn and Carl are white with successful civil practices.

    before any of you start jumping on me for bringing up race let’s look at the facts. i’m not calling anyone a racist, but just because you aren’t a racist doesn’t mean you don’t do racist things. I don’t consider myself a sexist but i’m told that i say stupid shit that women find offensive.

    there’d been a slave auction at the ranch. gerry has used the N word, most recent with Kathy and 2 African-American students this summer. of the 80+ staff members, i’m told there are only 8 minorities and all of them are men–Eric Fong, Eric Davis, Paco, Grover, Dan Aaron, Herman,Milton . look who’s left or been forced out—Charlie, Tony Garcia, Connie McGee, Derick, Toki, Paula Patrick, Jake Vigil, Sam Starks, Sam Perkings, Jason Alarid, Cricket, Bundy, Dan Williams, Joane, Fredi.

    I hate to lose any of those people. but i specially hate to lose joane and fredi. joane just cuts to the chase—that’s one sharp, creative lady. good on us that’s she’s consulting. fredi’s style of teaching’s refreshing. other staffers make it all about them. fredi always makes it about you.

    i doubt we’ll get any answers.

    • Come on, playing the race card? That is low. Gerry has a black nephew doesn’t he? Kent bought his daughter a black doll didn’t he? There are minorities on staff and on the board. Quit whining about race. I tend to agree with Gerry, women and minorities take up slots at TLC that should and could go to more qualified white men. I have heard him say this time and time again. And he is right. TLC should only take the most qualified applicants regardless of race or gender. We have too many people on staff as it is who aren’t trial lawyers, who don’t try cases, who do family law. They should not be at TLC. Plain and simple. So quit crying about race.

      • Have you met a single minority at TLC who teaches worth a shit? It is obvious they are only there to give some color to the college. And most of the women on staff suck too.

      • Perplexed, thanks for proving my point.

    • In fairness, some of the staff members who either left or were cut happen to suck.

      Having said that, there are plenty of white men and women on staff who suck just as bad and haven’t been cut.

      • So true. But if you suck up to the leaders or management, you get to stay on staff even if you suck. Or if you give a big donation, you might get asked to be on staff, even if you suck. I hear they are adding at least 14 new staff members and the names I have heard are of people who have played their political cards right and have sucked up to the people on the board. If you suck up to Rafe or Jude you are guaranteed a spot of the board. And if you give a big donation, Zelbst and Gerry Spence will advocate for you. Talent, ability to teach, ethics, and integrity do not matter when it comes to the TLC staff.

      • Ttue. Some of those mentioned were not very good teachers. But I find it alarming that a few were the best teachers at TLC, innovative, creative and smart, not to mention kind-hearted and fun. But merit is worth shit at TLC. It’s all about money and kissing ass. I’m sure Judge Rose and John Johnson would be appalled if they were alive. I feel sorry for the students of future classes and regionals. They’ve missed the true stars.

        By saying this I’m not saying that there aren’t great lawyers in the existing staff. I’d be the first to say that. But the diversity is missing—in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, life experiences, geography, legal practice. That none of the existing staff have commented publicly or privately on this blog or on the list serve tells me that they are either uninterested, ignorant of what is going on or afraid to be in the same place Joane and Fredi found themselves in.

  23. From my conversations and emails with people, nothing will change with TLC. The prevailing view is, “TLC works for me. I haven’t seen any of that stuff personally. I’m sorry that good people are gone but that’s how things are. I’ll miss them, but it’s still good for me. Gerry is the man and I’m standing by him and whatever he wants to do. He has never done anything to me.”

    I think I heard a similar argument among my neighbors right before the Iraqi war earlier this decade. “I got my house, I got my car, I got my job. I’m going to put my faith in my president. He has never done anything to me.”

    So I guess we’re done with this conversation and we can just move on, right? Let’s go!

    But before we go, just one more thing: the Internet, usually garbage, sometimes has good stuff. Let me just take five seconds of your time:

    “Perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, victims: we can be clear about three of these categories. The bystander, however, is the fulcrum. If there are enough notable exceptions, then protest reaches a critical mass. We don’t usually think of history as being shaped by silence, but, as English philosopher Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’ “

  24. Rowley’s list serve post is wrong on so many levels, but out of respect for Beth who makes good points about not making it personal, I will keep my fresh comments to myself.

    First, Nick talks about picking up the phone and calling people to find out what the truth is. He must think truth comes from only one source because he didn’t call Carl, Kaitlin, John, Lynn, Joane, anyone mentioned in Carl’s post that have been affected by decisions unilaterally made by Jude, the board, Gerry.

    Second, this may not be a democracy but as long as the Board is using the money I donate to TLC, continues to ask me for more and begs me to recruit for TLC or come to its programs, I have a say.

    I took Carl’s comments for transparency as a request for the leadership to be responsive to the people that fund TLC. What is wrong with that? That makes us more vested in the College, not less. We don’t have to agree with Board decisions but we should be able to look at the reasons for decisons and the process.

    At seminars we are constantly told that we are TLC. BS!

    • We are TLC so long as we go along with whatever the board and Gerry Spence tell us to go along with. But if we speak up, or disagree or raise questions, we are not being loyal and we are engaging in personal attacks. So, let’s follow Gerry Spence’s instructions, Shut Up and Get on Board. The decisions have been made and we owe our loyalty to TLC.

      But we can protest by cutting off the money supply to TLC. With wealthy people, the best way to get their attention is with money. Stop donating and maybe Spence and Basile will wake up and start caring about and listening to us.

      • Are they selling shirts that say, “Shut up and Get on Board”? I’d like to get one. Maybe two so I can help with the scholarship fund.

      • Towards the end of the year I look at how much money I have and write a few checks to charities. This year, it seems that I’ve gotten more requests than in years past. I’ve given to my favorite disease prevention, food bank, children’s group. Normally I’ll write a check out to TLC. This year I’m writing a check instead to my local legal services office. I know the money will go to any one of these people—a senior citizen trying to get his benefits, a down and out couple who are losing their homes to foreclosure, a disabled man trying to get health care, a victim of domestic violence, a family with children who are this close to homelessness. Legal Services are public defenders on the civil side, but unlike public defenders, they don’t have the 6th amendment to compel the government to give them money they need to provide services. They have been severely de-funded over the years and rely on private individuals to keep their doors open to help the oppressed, the forgotten, the poor.

        What happened this year to TLC has been so disheartening and disappointing to me. By writing my check to Legal Services, at least I’ll know the money will go to a good place and do good things and not go to a new website, new couches, a sign over the barn door.

  25. I was surfing the net and came across this blog. I am not a TLC alumni but I did work at Thunderhead Ranch one summer. I wonder if Jude remembers me and our “interactions” at the ranch?

    • What does “interactions” mean?

  26. I wonder if Nick has heard of the term “brown nose.” Nick has his head so far up Jude’s ass that not only is his nose brown, but his whole head is brown. Talk about sucking up!!! It is disgusting how TLC makes grown men grovel, suck up, pander and kiss the ass of arrogant, narcissistic, selfish and dishonest people.

    • Be nice to Nick and you too can go to his home in Costa Rica. I hear they will be having a board meeting there.

      • Personally, I could care less if Carl, Katlin, Fredi or Lynne are off the board. What did they contribute anyway? Too much touchy feely bullshit. They were too cliquey. They didn’t support Jude. Jude was absolutely right to get rid of them. It is his perogative. TLC is better off without them. He needs people who will carry out his orders and follow his directions. And there is way too much psychodrama at TLC anyway. We are a trial lawyers college. Not a psychodrama school. I, for one, won’t miss any of them.

  27. Come on people. You heard Gerry. The decisions have been made. Get on board!

    • Anonymous, Can you tell me, no show me, where the line forms to kiss ass? Since we’re done with the discourse and all. I’d hate not be a team player or a potential staff member or sheep. Thank you.

      • Did you hear, at the next graduation ceremony, in addition to there being a fake indian dancing around in a fake indian costume, there will be a tattoo artist on hand to tattoo the TLC thunderhead logo on the asses of the masses, members of the cult. That way they can have TLC with them 24/7! They will also get their amulet (medicine pouch) which is made by a fake indian and will be served ranch cool aid (Lemonade). I think they put cool aid powder in the amulet.

        Sign me up for the tattoo!! I will sport it while wearing my TLC thong underwear under my suit and my amulet around my neck, with a fringe jacket or a photographers vest, and cowboy boots. Oh, and I will also wear the name badge I got at the 15th Anniv. with Gerry’s picture on it. When are the bobble head dolls going to be sold? I want one for the back window of my car.

  28. I am with the person above who is giving money to the local legal aid office instead of TLC. TLC cannot be trusted to use our money wisely to help those who need it most. I am going to give my annual charitable donation to our local legal aid office. I trust they will use the money for better and greater purposes than will TLC. If Spence wants more money for TLC – He can write a check!

    • I just wrote a check to my local legal services like the previous posts encouraged us to do and I feel good about doing that. I have been criticized by TLC friends for not contributing because “if we don’t support TLC financially, it will die.” They’re right that TLC will die if the money dries up. But did you ever stop to ask why the bulk of the support has to come from those who make the least amount of money? The solo practitioners? The public defenders? The family lawyers? The consumer lawyers? Fill in your favorite lawyer who gets by or just makes enough to call himself middle class.

      While some of those who have been blessed to have huge settlements or verdicts have contributed, there are quite a number of people that by themselves, and I mean by themselves, could fund TLC’s endowment without a break in their lifestyles. Alternatively, a few of these millionaires could pool their substantial assets together and come up with the entire endowment. But if you look at donor lists (which are available since TLC is a non-profit), you won’t see those uber-millionaires who profess to be Gerry’s best friends in the top group.

      And what about Mr. Spence himself? Before you start talking about how he gives his time, his money and his ranch to the college, know this—the college, though its donors, has funded the operation of that ranch, including the remodeling, for many years. We. the donors and the tuition-paying-participants, fork over nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year to the Spence Foundation to use this ranch for a grand total of 12 weeks a year. I won’t argue that the ranch is worth that much. I’ll assume it is because all of us love it.

      But do you know that when the college dies, the Spence Foundation gets it all. You couldn’t even get a piece of bark from one of the cabins as a souvenir.

      My point is Gerry won’t donate more than he already has, give or take a couple of thousand here and there, and won’t ask his closest TLC friends (who are all millionaires) for this money. At the same time he has no problem asking his “non-friends” for money. Or I should say, send his closest friends to do fund-raising at TLC programs. What kind of shit is that?

      You want your money to go to a good cause this year? Give to your local charity. If the college dies it won’t be because you didn’t give a hundred dollars a month to ranch club. It’s because Gerry and his friends didn’t care enough about the college to dip into their substantial monetary reserves to save it.

      • There are a lot of people who have given their time, more time than Spence has given, to TLC. No one talks about that. Only about Gerry. He gives his time because he benefits mightily. He ranch gets paid for and TLC has ALWAYS paid to use the ranch ALWAYS!! You don’t think Spence has profited off the sale of his books or videos? He has! He donates very little to the college in the terms of money. 15 years worth of staff have given more collective time than Gerry has given TLC. And plenty of people have given far more money than he has ever given. I am with Fed Up. Spence and his wealthy friends on the board should write some big ass checks. I will bet you it wont ever happen. Haven’t you heard? The deeper the pockets the shorter the arms. It will be all on the little people to pay for Spence’s college. Doesn’t seem right to me. Spence is using us. And we are the fools!

  29. If Spence is wondering why so many people think TLC is a cult, well maybe it has something to do with the fake native american ceremony used for graduation. Maybe it is because they use psychodrama – a form of mind control. Maybe it is because they call each other warriors and excommunicate anyone who doesn’t agree with them. TLC is not a tribe and the alumni (at least 99.9%) are not native americans. Only cults have such strange and secretive ceremonies where people get medicine pouches, sit in a circle and listen to drums and some made up song by a board member who dances around in a handmade fake indian costume. Maybe it is because some board members claim to be members of a secret society – the black war bonnett society – and none of them are native americans or members of a tribe. No wonder TLC has such a hard time attracting people to its programs. No wonder people claim that TLC alumni have “drunk the koolaid.”

  30. I reread Carl’s post this morning after mulling it over along with my feelings about TLC and what has happened over the last 6 or so months for the past couple of days. Carl’s post makes me deeply sad. The changes in TLC have been very discouraging and disheartening. TLC has become so political, so judgmental, so arrogant, so backstabbing. And that started at the top with the members of the board and with Gerry Spence. Perhaps saddest is the complete lack of caring by those in charge. Gerry’s response to Carl’s post was a non-response and essentially told us all to get on board and demonstrate loyalty. He did not address one single substantive issue. He obfuscated and deflected beginning with a self serving statement about how hurt he is. Gerry’s hurt always seems to overshadow the hurt of those he has treated badly. To say I am disappointed in him is an understatement.

    I must say I agree with others who posted on the list serve that loyalty is a two way street. How can Gerry expect loyalty when he has demonstrated that neither he nor TLC is loyal to those who have sacrificed their time, given of themselves and their hearts, some for years, to build this college. To let them go so easily, to not thank them publically, to treat them with disdain and unkindness is just wrong and contrary to everything TLC allegedly stands for. To imply they and us should keep our mouths shut and get on board is the height of arrogance. Where is TLC’s loyalty to these people? Where is Gerry’s loyalty? Have his words of love, acceptance, truth and honesty over the years been purely hollow sentiments spoken to get us to follow him, adore him and to open our wallets? How can we be expected to be loyal when TLC has not been loyal to people we love and who love us and who have dedicated themselves selflessly to our learning? I am sick over the hypocrisy.

    And then their is Jude Basile’s response to Carl’s post. It said nothing of value. It, in a veiled way, criticized Carl for speaking publically rather than speaking to Jude one on one. Sounds like Jude wants us to keep our opinions to ourselves or only share them with him. And yet, if you send him an email you won’t get a response. At least you won’t if he doesn’t agree with your or doesn’t like what you have to say. And he will forward things you have said in confidence to him to others. Pretty one sided and pretty controlling. Isn’t that the problem Jude? You didn’t address a single substantive thing Carl raised. Not a one. How can we trust you? You have not demonstrated your trustworthiness.

    TLC needs to reexamine what it stands for. It needs to reexamine its own loyalty to those who are part of this group. Until TLC gives us loyalty, we have no reason to give it to them. How can we give loyalty to a group that marginalizes women and minorities. That treats those who teach the core of the program, psychodrama, so horrifically. Asking Nolte to teach in TX was a game, a ploy. Many at the alumni meeting spoke about how much John Nolte had impacted and influenced them. And so, a plan was devised to pacify the alumni – Hey, let’s invite Nolte to teach in TX so the alumni think we are good guys (knowing full well that Nolte left TLC by choice because he didn’t like how Gerry was running the college, nor did he like how he was being treated and knowing that he had no desire to return). And when Nolte declined, TLC could say, see, we included Nolte and he didn’t want to participate. Pure manipulation on the part of the board. An invitation to a professional to come and teach, but to pay his own way and not offer to compensate him is insulting, offensive and arrogant. And in this case it was a game.

    The bottom line is that TLC needs us more than we need it. TLC depends on us for money, in the form of tuition and donations. So, I think TLC better start looking at how it treats people. With each loss, we are weaker.

    I do not understand why Carl, Fredi, Katlin or Lynne would even want to continue to be a part of an organization that has shown no loyalty to them and threw them aside for no good reason other than power and control. Jude says he wants his own team. And he also says that Carl and Katlin are good friends. Hmmm…. the two don’t square. Don’t you want your friends on your team? I know I do. Apparently Jude isn’t being honest with either himself, those he threw off the board or with us. But then again maybe he doesn’t know what honesty and loyalty are. He sure hasn’t demonstrated it.

    If this is what TLC has become, then it is indeed a sad day. In my humble opinion, this is the beginning of the end. I don’t think the leadership is capable of healing the wounds they are responsible for creating. And frankly, I don’t think they care. We are unimportant, and none of us will be given their loyalty. For TLC, loyalty is a one way street – us to them. For months they have shown that they don’t care and simply want all of us to get on board, get in line, and shut the fuck up. No thanks. I respect myself far too much to let any man, or men, or group of men, silence me. TLC, you have not earned nor do you deserve my loyalty.

    • Fredi is not on staff anymore.

      • I am really angry at TLC right now and do not have the heart or desire to participate in any of its programs. How TLC has conducted itself over the last many months just turns my stomach.

  31. TLC SUCKS!

  32. I am sick of this shit! Didn’t you all hear Gerry: “Once the decision has been made, once the train leaves, we all must get aboard . . .” Give TLC your “Loyalty.” Shut up and be good children. Gerry’s feelings have been hurt so close your eyes to and ignore the injustice TLC leadership has delivered to a good many people you love and care about.

    You could be next! Oh yeah, that is why all you people are silent. FEAR! Some warriors you are.

    • Amen, Mark! Allow me to repeat myself just in case we do have “real” warriors out there:

      “Perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, victims: we can be clear about three of these categories. The bystander, however, is the fulcrum. If there are enough notable exceptions, then protest reaches a critical mass. We don’t usually think of history as being shaped by silence, but, as English philosopher Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’ “

      • People who claim they are Warriors for Justice but yet sit back and watch TLC victimize and abuse good people who have given so much are not Warriors at all. They are cult members too brainwashed to stand up to the injustice being heaped upon their own. It is pathetic.

  33. I think this poem is completely appropriate to share given what is happening at TLC. We should all be concerned and maybe even afraid. Who is going to be excommunicated next? Look in the mirror, are you going to be a bystander or are you going to speak up?

    First They Came …. poem by Martin Niemöller

    “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

    — by Martin Niemöller

    • You really expect any of the staff and alumni (all who want to be on staff) to speak up when TLC discriminates against women and minorities? Not going to happen. How many spoke up when Carl was publicly humiliated by Spence at Staff Training? Not a single soul. How many spoke up on all the occasions Spence has behaved in a racist or sexist manner? No one. Everyone smiles and laughs and looks the other way. How many women or minorities need to be forced out or attacked or discriminated against before you people get it?

      Some family. The members of this family care so little about each other that they let the leaders of the family treat people horribly. Look at how easily people conveniently abandon other TLC members. If you are all honest, you will realize that TLC is not a family. The people involved in TLC really don’t care about each other. If they did you would be screaming about the leaders treatment of members of your “family.” But you are all so afraid of daddy that you don’t dare speak up. Wait until he or his accolytes bully you. Don’t expect anyone to speak up.

  34. God (aka Gerry Spence) has spoken. Why are you all still posting? Just get on board and give your loyalty to Spence.

  35. I am still trying to figure out why Carl and Lynne were asked back on staff and not Fredi and Joane. I saw the post about the minority issue and honestly, it’s too ugly for me to continue to contemplate, so count me as another ostrich who buries her head in the sand.

    But I’ve done enough psychodrama to know about role reversals. I wonder if Carl and Lynne have role reversed with either Fredi and Joane or others like John Nolte or Charlie who have been mistreated by Gerry, Jude and the other leaders of TLC. Do Carl and Lynne ever think how their continued and concerted effort to remain on staff and be part of TLC make these people, who they say they love and are their friends feel? Carl takes a stand by not going to the Round Top regional but is willing to go to Leavenworth? That didn’t make sense to me.

    I’ve role reversed with Fredi, Joane, John and Charlie, and I didn’t feel good at all. In fact, I was hurt and angry that Carl and Lynne seemed to care more about being involved rather than having principles or loyalty. Maybe I just don’t know how to do this role reversal stuff well. I know they must have their reasons. Or maybe they just weren’t as close friends as I imagined they were.

    I guess that when Carl and Lynne’s friends JR Clary and Anne Valentine so willingly took their place on the board, it didn’t hurt Carl or Lynne at all.

    And what about JR and Anne? What were their role reversals like? Or have we stopped doing psychodrama at TLC? Has being on staff or belonging to the “family” become the end all and be all of people’s existence?

    • Ah, betrayal.

  36. I have a couple of things to say about the list serve.

    First, the new Executive Director is allowing NON TLC alumni to be on the TLC alumni list serve. It is supposed to be ONLY for graduates of the full length college but she is putting anyone who attends any program on that list serve.

    Two – how many of you realize that Gerry Spence refuses to be on this list serve, not because he is too busy, but because he doesn’t care about us, what we have to say, or how we feel. Most of the time he is totally clueless about the alumni, what we are feeling or what our opinions are.

    • What? When did they start letting anyone on the list serve? I thought it was just for TLC grads (including the 7 steppers, they are TLC grads). How come we weren’t told?

    • I’d like to know who the hell is on the list serve. We should know who is reading our posts. So many people post about their cases. This is what happens when you have someone who is not familiar with TLC, who is not a lawyer, who doesn’t understand confidentiality, running the show. No wonder people have been asking to unsubscribe lately.

  37. What do you expect? With Joanne gone, no one knows what the hell they are doing. Jude doesn’t have the first clue how to run TLC and he is the one training the new Executive Director who is not a lawyer, who does not understand confidentiality and does not have any institutional knowledge about TLC. The new Executive Director probably doesn’t even know the difference between the list serves. And did you know they had a civil defense lawyer at TLC this year? Yes, it’s true. And the board knew in advance the guy was a civil defense lawyer. Oh and they let 3 of Geoff Fieger’s attorneys attend because Fieger made a donation to TLC. So, you can buy your way into TLC now and civil defense lawyers can attend too. Maybe the board needs to re-read the Mission Statement.

  38. Haven’t kept up with TLC for a few days. All I can say is WOW. I applaud Carl for speaking up. I really respect Carl and admire his courage for speaking the truth. I have been really questioning my continued involvement with TLC for the past few months. It has changed and the changes are, in my humble opinion, not good. I think TLC has become like any other trial lawyer association. Mired in politics and infighting and more focused on money than anything else. I have had enough of that in other places. I think I will just sit on the sidelines and watch to see what happens.

  39. Honestly, what is the big deal? So what Jude asked Carl, Freddy, Lynn and Katlin to resign from the board. Why do any of you care? Staff come and go. There are plenty who shouldn’t be on staff but are and plenty who aren’t on staff but should be. So get over it.

  40. Change may be inevitable. But if we don’t like the change, we are free not to participate. I think TLC is loosing the most creative people. Their loss!

  41. Carl: I am so glad you spoke up and shared with all of us your truth. I am very disappointed in the leaders if TLC that they don’t tell us the truth, that they have dumped some of the best faculty and treat people poorly. I really believed that TLC was a different type of organization and am saddened that it is not different than most trial associations. Too much politics, too many cliques and too much emphasis on money. And Gerry is the worst of all. I understand that sometimes change is necessary, but I don’t think change should include treating good people who have given so much so poorly. If the leaders of TLC can’t walk the walk, maybe TLC shouldn’t exist. Just my $.02 for what it’s worth.

  42. You people need to get a life!

  43. I must say I am not surprised about the goings on at TLC. Maybe it is time for the grand experiment to end. There is something wrong when people feel as if they “need” TLC and can’t continue their growth and development on their own.

  44. I am not a lawyer but found this blog surfing the web. This tlc place sounds pretty sick to me from what I have read in these comments. But what do you expect from a bunch of lawyers, the scourge of the earth.

  45. Well, M. Ellers: I hope that you never are faced with a legal problem, that neither you nor anyone about whom you care is ever hurt by the negligence or wrongdoing of another. I hope that you live in a world where the government will never overstep its proper role, so that your rights don’t need defending. If you are thusly shielded against any hurt or bullying or trouble, you’ll never need one of the “scourge of the earth.”

    • And if you do find yourself caught in trouble that involves the legal system, M. Ellers, I trust that you will handle it on your own without coming to one of us. Good luck.

  46. Although I have not been to this College (and have no desire to attend it or any of its programs) I have read all the comments here and thought the following information accurately describes some of the leaders of the College you have been talking about.

    Narcissists are masters of multitasking. Simultaneously narcissistic people:

    1. Lie. They know what they did was wrong and know your reaction is reasonable.
    2. Manipulate. Make you look like the bad guy for objecting to their cruelties.
    3. Are selfish. They don’t mind making you feel horrible as long as they get their own way.
    4. Blame. They did something wrong, but it’s all your fault.
    5. Project. Their petty, small and childish behavior has become yours.
    6. Put on a self-pitying drama. Their a martyr who believed the best of you, and you’ve let them down.
    7. Parentify. You’re responsible for their feelings, but they have no responsibility for yours.

  47. Beth K. and Nobody, didn’t you learn anything at TLC? Where is the love, tolerance, acceptance and understanding for M. Ellers? Maybe M. Ellers had a bad experience with a lawyer or the justice system in the past. Do you think attacking this person makes lawyers look better? Doesn’t TLC teach love, inclusion and acceptance? Doesn’t it make lawyers better people? Guess not.

  48. Anonymous: Bite me.

    Guess I wasn’t paying attention to the “love everybody no matter what a putz they are” lessons.

  49. I be enduring read a scarcely any of the articles on your website at this very moment, and I definitely like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites web page muster and resolve be checking promote soon. Divert check into public notice my position as ok and let me know what you think. Thanks.

  50. TLC. Based on all the above postings it seems like such an ironic name for this organization.

    I went there. Did the pyschodrama. Cried when I said I wouldn’t. Spilled my guts when I said I wouldn’t. Almost got divorced when I got home afterward. Things are much better now with the spouse, thank you very much.

    I do criminal law. Nothing but criminal law. I know a lot of great and outstanding criminal defense lawyers who never went to TLC but who I would call in a heartbeat before anyone else if I got arrested. I don’t know how good any of the staff people really are in practice.

    Nothing personal to all you plaintiff types, but I can’t relate to you all that much. Not that I don’t believe in what you do…I do. I admire what products liability lawyers have done to make this country safer by forcing manufacturers to make better products that won’t kill or maim their customers. What I am saying is that you and I are different breeds of cat.

    How I would do a PI trial and how I would do a criminal defense trial are radically different. Most of the time I really can’t make an opening statement despite all the advice to the contrary. Most of the time I have to shut the fuck up and try to keep the questioning down to a narrow scope all while trying to make a good record for appeal. 99% of the time I am not going to put my client up on the stand. You want me to tell a story? Most of the time my story is that the prosecutor’s story is inadequate. Betrayal? Where does that fit when my client’s DNA is on the broken window pane that he shattered and later cut himself on? How about on a DWI when my client is driving over four times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood and crashes into a teenage girl in a Volkswagen after he runs a red light and kills her and my argument is for manslaughter instead of murder? Did I mention he had priors? How the hell do incorporate the theme of betrayal in those instances?

    Don’t get me wrong. I know the psychodrama stuff is powerful in understanding the “emotional” side of the case, but sometimes when the victim’s family and friends are in the courtroom at every appearance sobbing their eyes out and wearing a button with her picture on it on their shirts and blouses I don’t need to look very far to see it. And neither does the jury!

    This kumbaya kool aid stuff is useful only when you see a use for it. Truth is that there are also times in a criminal context where I have tried to employ it to moderate success. The “don’t tell me, show me” method is probably the one that makes the most sense to me doing what I do.

    As for Kool Aid, I’m grown up enough to realize that you have to drink it first before you can process it internally and ultimately discard that which is waste and keep and incorporate that which is nourishing and beneficial.

    So while I don’t believe in all the quasi-religious mystical crap TLC tries to incorporate in its teachings through Native American rituals and lots of stuff about “the tribe,” I also realize that I paid my money to go along with the program and try to open my mind. I just don’t leave my brains at the front gate.

    In the end, as much as I have no idea what I learned up there I would still go again. Why? Because I have totally selfish reasons that have nothing to do with sucking up to Gerry Spence or his staff: I like it there! I like the scenery. I like the change of pace. I like the campfire at night. I like the hiking and the wildlife. I like the excuse the training gives me to go up there. I also like a lot of the people I attended the program with and would enjoy seeing them again. If doing a bunch silly seeming exercises is part of the package, well then now I know what I am signing up for.

    I saw some of those cliques that most of you were bitching about. Yeah, nobody likes being on the outs. Probably wasn’t fair how Carl and the others were treated, but then again Carl and the others should have figured out by now that this was Gerry’s show and that he is a world class primadonna who won’t sit “second chair” to anybody – let alone be questioned by people he considers replaceable in a heart beat. So what? He’s old! Don’t you get it? Old people are set in their ways!

    Those of you whose parents are still alive but are elderly know what I am talking about. They get stubborn and irrational. They sometimes get shittier with age too.

    You people forget that this guy was the shit back in his day. Maybe part of that was luck, skill, and being in the right era at the right time. Truth is that I doubt he would have had such an unbelievable criminal defense record in my town and time, but who knows? He was good where he was, when he was and that’s what enabled him to start this whole thing in the first place.

    Is he a fucked up and flawed individual? Hell yes! Would you or I ever want to trade places with him, let alone reverse roles? Hell no! He’s not a very happy man, and sometimes he gets shitty. So what? It’s his damn flea circus, he can do whatever the fuck he wants! Many, if not most, of us were not even born when he was making his bones in those bleak little cow towns of Wyoming back in the 50’s and 60’s.

    That said, I agree with you about the race and gender stuff. But let’s be honest with each other here folks…look at who this man is, where he came from, and when he grew up. Do you think it’s all that shocking that he would exhibit a few insensitive moments regarding women and minorities? Come on! Stop trying to view him through your politically correct baby boomer and generation x lenses! He came up in pre-baby boomer Wyoming in a coarse and tough cowboy culture where people drank and smoked, and men were men and etc. etc. Think “Mad Men” but with rednecks. It is too late to deprogramm him. His last big ephiphany happened in 1969. Rather, consider what he did with his life since then in spite of all that.

    Yeah, he did some shitty things alright. But who hasn’t? But he also did some good for a lot of people too. He just shat in your direction, that’s the problem.

    Here is my advice to everyone here: You might not save TLC because in the end Gerry is TLC. You have to save Gerry in order to do that. But if Gerry doesn’t think he needs saving then what the hell can you do? Take what good you acquired from it and discard the rest. Use the good to do more good on your own terms, like setting up your own program keeping in mind the lessons learned from this experience as a guide.

    Here is my advice to Gerry: Thank you for creating this program. You inspired many people. Please enjoy the remaining years you have left. You’ve earned it. Go easy on Kent while you are still around. You’ve given him enough grist for the psychodrama mill.

    Here is my advice to Jude Basile, Rafe Foreman, and the rest of the TLC staff who are currently in Gerry’s state of grace and favor: Remember that you too are replaceable. This place may not outlive Gerry. Take seriously the complaints lodged here. They are worth taking note of. People cry from where they are hurt. Don’t summarily discard them. Once Gerry is gone you will have lost your leader and your figurehead. Right now the focus is on Gerry. People pay their nickel to see Gerry, not Jude Basile. After he dies the fragmentation will quickly accelerate. You need to think about where this thing is going post-Gerry. Newsflash: it may not be on the ranch anymore after he passes on. (I’m just sayin’.) Expect a lot of drama, infighting, and lawsuits the likes of which you have not yet seen…unless you start getting your shit together now. That means knocking off all the junior high school crap…if you can. Also, you people don’t have a coherent philosophy. I was there and I still didn’t get what you stood for other than some vague notion about big evil government and corporations being bad and representing “the people” and “Gerry is great.” Sure, I get the alligience bit. But flesh it out some more. Just because you deal with “feelings” all day long at TLC doesn’t mean you have to completely discard the intellectual underpinnings of who we are and why we do what we do. I think it’s important to state that explicitly. Maybe you can’t formulate this while Gerry is still alive. But once he is gone, the guru will only be around in memory only and so you will have to think of another reason to get people to pay their nickel to come to your program as opposed to another. If you have not adopted a clear philosophy and point of view then you too will wither and blow away. Adopting such a philosophy is vital, naturally some will leave and some with stay, but without that in place you are a ship without a rudder blown to and fro. Think of it this way, fragmentation is inevitable. As the founder of the religion dies, the disciples break up into little sects of their own. But at least they have something worth disagreeing about. Think hard about what representing “the people” against the government and big business really means. You must find common and specific values that you can all agree upon and espouse. Otherwise, you’ll have a civil defense lawyer show up one day…and a prosecutor show up the next. If you don’t want either one showing up then you really need to dig deeper into the reasons why, find the answer, and be able to state it plainly. Then again some of you might not care all that much if a prosecutor or civil defense lawyer show up…in which case you can form your own splinter group. Note: dressing up like Native Americans and calling yourself “Warriors” is not a philosophy. It is a pose. Drop the pose.

    Other advice: There are not enough public defenders in the mix! What the hell is wrong with you people! If your program is so great and your cause is for the “little guy” then why aren’t you actively trying to reach out and recruit more of them? I’ll tell you what that is…because most pd’s are more experienced at trial than many of you folks put together. You want a good bullshit detector? Put a bunch of public defenders in the room and you’ll see. Perhaps TLC might be a little afraid of them since many of them are not afraid to call people out on their bullshit. Just watch one in court someday and you’ll see. They don’t get intimidated very easily. I also like them because everybody underestimates them. TLC is not doing enough in my mind to bring them in. A bigger question…do public defenders need TLC? Maybe it’s the other way around. And don’t fucking patronize them when they show up either. If you’re going to turn this into a civil trial lawyers club, then after Gerry is dead rename it the “Plaintiff’s Civil Trial Lawyer’s College.” On the other hand, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a three week long course that is strictly geared to the practice of criminal law (in addition to the death penalty college), and one that is strictly geared towards the practice of PI. I know that sounds schizmatic of me, but they are both very different disciplines. It could even be in the form of a grad course if you still wanted to keep the original program that blends both.

  51. Just finished reading Carl’s book and also recently read Trial In Action by the three sisters. Both excellent! I learned more from these books than I ever learned at TLC, even from Spence himself. It is a shame that such wonderfully talented and creative people are no longer part of TLC. What a loss for TLC. But luckily for those of us who want to learn, grow and become better at what we do, we have their books and can learn from them at other programs. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about their programs.

    I love the post by Workaholics Unanimous and agree with so much of what he or she wrote. I have come to realize TLC is not at all the place or organization it claims to be. It doesn’t exist to make people better lawyers. It exists so Spence has something to do with a built in audience. No one in the legal community (other than the TLC people) even care about him or what he has to say. And most of the younger lawyers don’t even know who he is.

    Take a look at the current faculty. With a few exceptions, it is made up of a bunch of mediocre wannabe lawyers who care more about getting big verdicts than helping people. And although they call it the “Trial Lawyers College” there are people on the staff who have never tried a case, not one! Why would anyone want to learn about being a trial lawyer from people who have never tried a case? And there are other staff members who are just plain stupid and plenty of male staff members who use their role to score with female students.

    I get sick reading the list serve because so much of it is about money and big verdicts. And there is a bunch of crap these people write about with the same people posting over and over and over again.

    I have also learned that the so called “tribe” we are supposed to be is just bunk. If you associate with the wrong people, and especially with those who have been turned out from the tribe, you too will be subject to banishment. That is the height of hypocrisy.

    Like most organizations with charismatic leaders, TLC too will die when Spence dies. There isn’t a single person involved with TLC who has the charisma, talent or leadership skills to ensure it will live on. Jude Basile certainly doesn’t have what it takes.

    So, thank you to Carl for his excellent book. And thank you to the authors of Trial In Action. Thank you for finally making sense of the chaos, disorganized and fragmented teaching of TLC. I plan to recommend both books to all my friends and colleagues.

  52. I have had a couple of occasions to see Carl teach as well as some of the other people he mentions in this article. I also went to the TLC this year at the ranch. Although I met many wonderful people (classmates) and formed close friendships with some of them, I did not have a good experience in terms of what I had expected and been led to believe. I learned very little. Mostly the same old stuff I learned years ago. There were very few good teachers. Several were just plain awful and had very little trial experience. Some had no trial experience at all. How can people without trial experience can teach trial lawyers how to try a case? I tried to find good teachers among those labeld as staff but they were few and far between. TOO few. I don’t know the story behind the leavings of those named in the article or why they aren’t on staff anymore, and I really don’t care to know it. but having worked with many of them it is a real loss to the TLC that they are not teaching. I spent a lot of money going to the ranch and did not get my monies worth. I will not go back and I feel lied to and ripped off.

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