Interview with Jerris Leonard

OK, um, what was your mandate. You were appointed assistant attorney general for, in the Civil Rights Division, Division, what was your mandate from, from President Nixon and from Attorney General Mitchell?


I had a meeting with the President and Attorney General Mitchell shortly after we were all in office, and I asked President Nixon, I said, "Exactly what is it you, what are your marching orders?" In fact, I think I used those terms. And he said, "Jerris, very simply, I want you to enforce the law, but I want you to use your head." And that's really, was the totality of the conversation as far as marching orders were concerned. I took that to mean that, ah, consistent with Attorney General Mitchell's own beliefs that we had to be vigorous in enforcing, ah, the Civil Rights Laws, but we had to try to do it without rhetoric, ah, w- and try to, try to, try to bring about solutions rather than simply saying that, "Well, we want another lawsuit." Mitchell was a great a great believer in trying to, to, to bring consensus where you, where you could get that done. Now, if not, as the record clearly indicates, in those two years that I headed the Civil Rights Division, we brought more lawsuits than either before or after.