Jones Day's Cleveland offices, pictured center off East 9th
A new book – Servants of the Damned by David Enrich
- makes Jones Day, the mega firm founded in Cleveland, read more like a corrupt and soulless fiefdom than a seeker of truth and justice. It’s filled with instances of legal maneuvering that defends corporations over alleged victims.
From its defense of Art Modell’s escape from Cleveland with its football team to defense of Cleveland Catholic Bishop Anthony Pilla, causing County Prosecutor Bill Mason to drop a case against hundreds of priests for sexual abuse, Jones Day goes where the money is.
Enrich writes of the Jones Day strategy for protecting corporate sins: “Blur the science, blame the victims, question the consequences.”
But the book goes far beyond the Cleveland era for the firm remembered here under the name of Jones, Day, Cockley & Reavis to the Jones Day of today, a law firm with offices throughout the U. S. and indeed, the world.
The book is filled with details of Jones Day’s involvement with Donald Trump.
“It has nurtured, protected and enabled Donald Trump since before anyone took his candidacy seriously and for long after his demagogy was impossible to miss,” Enrich writes.
It also details how Jones Day defended corporations involved in opioid sales and its strong defense of R. J. Reynolds in the company's quest to portray smoking cigarettes as healthy.
The firm, according to Enrich, also was instrumental in helping create the Republican dominated Supreme Court and lower courts in the swing to the conservative right.
He pays special attention to Steve Brogan, managing partner 2002-2022, and his impact on the firm’s culture. Brogan maintained discipline by declaring opposition as “whining.”
“One of Brogan’s long-standing cultural priorities had been to make whining taboo,” Enrich writes.
The policy, he writes, “sometimes deterred Jones Day employees from speaking up about issues like racial discrimination.”
But not all Jones Day lawyers enjoyed the firm’s pro-Trump stance. There was opposition. One wrote: “As an American, I am today deeply disappointed in this firm. I do not accept as simply unpopular what is profoundly undemocratic. We are better than this…” This followed the firm’s attempt to thwart mail-in votes in Pennsylvania in the 2020 election.
He details the many Jones Day lawyers that labored in the Trump administration, including his protector Dan McGahn, White House counsel. He and other working for Trump returned to Jones Day after.
And the through line from its choices to the real world are made clear, including to Jan. 6, which was the “predictable culmination of a president whom Jones Day had helped elect, an administration the firm’s lawyers had helped run, and an election whose integrity the firm had helped erode.”
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