In 1973, former St. Albans State Trooper Paul D. Lawrence was hired to tackle the drug and hippie problem in Taylor Park and along Main Street. He proved that he was the right man for the job. He arrested more than 100 people within a year.
But there was a problem. The arrests were a sham. He had planted evidence and fabricated stories. A special prosecutor appointed by then Governor Thomas Salmon found that all but one of the 106 arrests were fraudulent. Most of the drug evidence presented came from the New York State Police Crime Laboratory. The cases were dropped and Lawrence went to jail.
Lawrence had resigned from state police after incidents called his honesty and brutality into question, and he had been forced to serve as police chief in Vergennes.
Former Attorney General Kimberly B. Cheney (1972-1975), first to be thrown into this mess, writes about the “Lawrence Affair” in his new treatise, “The Life of a Lawyer for Life,” published by Rootstock Publishing in Montpelier has been.
The memoir is a comprehensive account of Cheney’s life, from childhood in Connecticut to Yale, the Navy to Vermont, three marriages, triumphs and defeats, personal ups and downs.
“I wrote this book in part to answer the question we all face towards the end of life after successfully completing treatment for lung cancer: ‘What is the meaning of life? ‘Lives are a fading story, maybe that’s all they are. I felt that telling my story could give meaning to both myself and others. My story is one that I never imagined. I hope readers will feel like they have learned about a well-lived life while making positive social changes, ”said Cheney.
In 1965, Cheney worked for a law firm in New Haven, Connecticut, trying cases involving money wars. To contribute to more social work and to revive his love for the outdoors, he and his wife and two young children moved to Vermont in 1967. The trip led to increased political influence when Cheney became attorney general, among other things.
Some of his stories, like the Lawrence Affair, evoke the memories of those who remember, others are funny, some sad, some touching and some painful to tell.
In 1960 he fathered a child in the Navy who was put up for adoption.
“I was deeply concerned about my apparent betrayal and my failure to live up to my parents’ expectations,” he writes.
That horrific experience was one of the reasons he advocated Vermont updating its adoption laws.
Cheney’s childhood was very different from the lives of most young people growing up in the 1950s. He rarely watched TV and never went to school with girls, not even college.
“I’ve never seen the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ or Dick Van Dyke and got almost a complete lack of understanding or knowledge of popular culture. To this day, I have been confused by references to popular TV shows from the 1950s or 1960s, and see this as a positive rather than a negative trait of my youth, ”he writes.
Cheney does not blame the Lawrence Affair for his 1974 re-election defeat to M. Jerome Diamond, but says it may have been a factor.
“I had nothing to do with the hiring of Lawrence, but the local state attorney had a conflict of interest that required me to hire an assistant attorney general to prosecute part of the Lawrence case. I became suspicious of Lawrence and asked the state police to hire a “Nark” to see if he was legitimate. The inspector said he would but did not. Lawrence was caught by the Burlington Police, but my efforts to pin him down were unknown to the public. The Lawrence Affair could have a material impact on my bid for re-election as Attorney General. I regretted not pushing the State Police Commissioner Edward Corcoran more to investigate and I accused myself of being naive. Why did I think the State Police would do what they agreed on in time? Had I pushed harder and been more aware, perhaps fewer people would have suffered; and I may even have been re-elected attorney general. I have deeply sad memories of that time and blame myself for occasional naivete and failure to diagnose the evil involved and take steps to eradicate it, ”he writes.
Diamond praised Cheney’s book.
“If Atticus Finch had written a memoir about his entire life as a country attorney, I think it would have had an impact on life similar to the life of a lawyer.” Said Diamond. Diamond served as Attorney General from 1975 to 1981.
The book received similar praise from Robert Sand, founding director of the Center for Judicial Reform at Vermont Law School. “Personal and poignant, the essay shows how a child grows up with relative comfort and privilege to dedicate their life to public service and the pursuit of justice. With occasional humorous anecdotes and insights, Cheney captures the nuances and human complexities of the law, ”said Sand.
Cheney, who resigned from the law in 2018 at the age of 83, is married to Barbara Smith, a retired nutritionist. Barbara has two grown children and Cheney has four children.
“Every life is important and affects others. My story was important to me, my family and me to be part of events of historical importance that will be of interest to the public. I wanted to tell a story that shows that politics is more about the impact of personality on events than so-called “problems” at every level at which a person participates in the community in which they live, “he said .
“A Lawyer’s Life to Life” is available locally at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Amazon, IndieBound, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble and on the Rootstock Publishing website at www.rootstockpublishing.com