By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Once in Phoenix, Fromstein must drive from the floor of the desert to the mile-high pine country of Prescott for opening arguments in the Earth First! trial. His presence at the prosecutors' table on June 19 is unusual.
"This case is a very significant case in the justice department. It is being monitored by the director of the FBI," explained Ivan Matthew, a former assistant United States attorney in Phoenix. Prior to entering private practice, the Earth First! case was Matthew's. "The resources in this case, the FBI personnel, the surveillance, the prosecutors, undercover operations, tape recordings, transcripts of tapes, the sheer volume of the tapes indicate it's not an ordinary case."
To get to Prescott, Mr. Fromstein had to follow the signs that pointed out his way: Desert Hills, Squaw Valley, Black Canyon City, Sunset Point, Crown King, Bloody Basin, Rock Springs, Horse Thief Basin, Big Bug Creek, Deadman's Wash.
These landfalls off the highway were not named by attorneys.
On his journey, Mr. Fromstein must pass men pulling horse trailers and women driving pickup trucks. He will share that highway with families in vans, vehicles piloted by men with long hair and women without makeup, couples who are surrounded by children who already know stories about coyotes and jack rabbits the way some kids in Washington know stories about Marion Barry. In his conservative pinstriped suit and with his briefcase nearby, Mr. Fromstein will be stuck behind retirees in their slow-moving Winnebagos, the elderly in open collars who have migrated here from all over the country. And all of these people, even Mr. Fromstein, will look out their windshields and see the same thing. They will see stands of saguaro, a stately cactus that grows nowhere else in the United States. They will take in vistas unknown to those who dwell in the nation's capital.
The sweeping views are only interrupted by enormous transmission lines.
Mr. Fromstein has entered a place where the land itself can shape the values of the people who live upon it. He has come to Prescott to put such a man in prison.
David Foreman is that man.
Once, many years ago, David Foreman also worked in Washington, D.C. He knew the Fromsteins of this world; he was, in fact, surrounded by lawyers because Foreman was a lobbyist for the Wilderness Society. In his job, Foreman discovered the thing that drove the lawyers; he found the value that shaped people in the nation's capital was the spirit of compromise.
Foreman also discovered that when it came to the wide-open space he cherished, he was no longer capable of compromise.
So Foreman left Washington, D.C., and while sitting around a campfire with friends began to fantasize about an environmental organization that would not compromise. Thus was born Earth First!
In Prescott, the government has charged Foreman and four others, Mark Davis, Ilse Asplund, Margaret "Peg" Millett, and Marc Baker with a conspiracy to sabotage nuclear-power plants. It is also alleged that various members within this circle attacked the Canyon Mine uranium operation on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and repeatedly vandalized the Fairfield Snow Bowl ski resort near Flagstaff.
The defendants have assembled an intimidating array of legal talent.
Foreman is protected by America's most famous criminal attorney, Gerry Spence. Often pictured in his buckskin jacket, Spence created a legend in his representation of defendants like Karen Silkwood and Imelda Marcos. He is joined by co-counsel Sam Guiberson of Houston. Arguably the country's top legal mind regarding tape-recorded evidence, Guiberson was part of the defense team that walked Cullen Davis in the infamous Texas homicide case that became the basis for the book Blood and Money by Jack Thompson.
Mark Davis is represented by Wellborn Jack Jr., a nationally recognized defense attorney from Shreveport, Louisiana, with a reputation for winning impossible cases.
Margaret Millett is defended by Phoenix litigator Michael Black. A former prosecutor of major drug cases in Florida, Black has a reputation for being a hard-nosed iconoclast who suffers little foolishness from either prosecutors or judges.
Marc Budoff, who represents Ilse Asplund, formerly was a top prosecutor with the Maricopa County major-felony division, and is described by other lawyers as having "significant presence" in the courtroom.
Alfred "Skip" Donau may, in fact, be the toughest lawyer in the Prescott courthouse. He is ferocious on his feet, a reputation earned as he protected the interests of the notorious Joseph Bonanno family in Tucson.
While Daniel Fromstein sits at the prosecutors' table, this is not his case to strategize. His job is to report back to Washington, D.C., to keep tabs. The government's case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Roslyn Moore-Silver. She is the one who must counter the incredible legal throw-weight assembled on behalf of the defendants.
And who is Roslyn Moore-Silver? Who is this woman that must stand up to the pressure that will be generated by Spence, Guiberson, Jack, Black, Budoff, and Donau? Who is the prosecutor who will carry forward the multimillion-dollar investigation that is almost four years old and viewed by senior prosecutors in Washington, D.C., as an opportunity, the very best opportunity, to bust wide open the radical organization Earth First!?