Since it's seemingly more and more likely that the government will not call Bert Fields, we probably won't be hearing anything from him about Anthony Pellicano, the wiretapping of adversaries and whether Mr. Pellicano's skills helped good old Bert keep his winning record. But, at one point, Mr. Fields was talking. When I interviewed him three years ago for a piece in the New York Times about his book about Shakespeare, I actually took some time to ask him about Anthony Pellicano and why the feds were investigating him for allegedly wiretapping his litigation opponents.
This interview took place in the spring of 2005, before Pellicano was charged with wiretapping and conspiracy. At that time, Mr. Fields had been named as a subject of the federal investigation. But this was all before the government presented evidence that Mr. Pellicano had, in fact, wiretapped Mr. Fields' litigation opponents in a number of cases. And, at that time, Mr. Fields believed that angry ex-legal opponents had accused him of wiretapping because of his incredible winning record against them.
AHW: What is the status of the Pellicano Investigation?
BF: I have no idea.
AHW: You don't know if it's over?
BF: It's been over two years and I haven't heard a thing. I don't know what's happening. They don't take me into their confidence. I have no idea where it's going or what's going to happen.
AHW: What was their [the F.B.I.] contact with you?
BF: The F.B.I. came and talked to me. I talked to them voluntarily. I didn't ask to be represented by counsel. I told them what I knew about the situation. Then, I heard they were investigating. There were some stories in the press about it and that was two years ago, and I haven't heard a thing since then.
AHW: You heard nothing from friends?
BF: I know there are a whole bunch of people in the community who've hired criminal lawyers because a vast number of people used Pellicano. And they are pushing--I don't know. There are some lawyers. There are clients they are talking about. Anthony had a vast number of clients that he did this for. A very good investigator. A lot of people used him. Mostly, I used him because clients knew I knew him. They would say, "Can we get Pellicano?" Everybody wanted Pellicano because, by the way, he did get some spectacular results in a number of cases. Not only mine, but other cases. So, I don't know what's going to happen. They don't seem proactive, but then as I say, they don't take me into their confidence.
AHW: Do you have a lawyer now?
BF: Yes. John Kecker. I didn't even want to do that, but the firm said, they're talking about you being one of the subjects of the investigation, you'd better get somebody who does this because you haven't done it for thirty years. I said, what do I need a lawyer for? I don't need a lawyer. I talked to the F.B.I. They said, "Oh my God, would you let a client talk to the F.B.I?" I said, "No, it's me. I have nothing to hide from the F.B.I., so I talked to them." I haven't done criminal law in a long time. It's a human instinct. Two F.B.I. guys show up in my office with bosses: can we talk Bert? Sure, yeah. What's it about?
AHW: Was it upsetting?
BF: You mean the press? I didn't like everybody asking me about it. It's kind of yucky to be the subject of a federal investigation. But I'm not particularly worried about it, because I didn't wiretap or use anything that had the slightest indication of being a wiretap.
AHW: I meant the bad press.
BF: Oh, well, I've had bad press in my time. I've gotten over it. No one likes to read about that stuff, but it's not a big deal. As to what's going to come of it, I don't know.
AHW: There is a lot of speculation right now.
BF: I believe that the whole thing got started with me by reason of somebody who lost a case and is very bitter and went to them and said, "They must have wiretapped--that's the only way they could have won this case." I think that coincided with Pellicano's trial. Wouldn't be any real evidence other than somebody saying, "I think he wiretapped."
Read more of Allison's coverage from inside the Pellicano courtroom