John Dowd is a softy, a cupcake, a paunchy punkin with a heart of ambergris. A teddy bear. We knew it all the time.
But after a rough morning of defending Governor J. Fife Symington III on July 10, Dowd cuffed New Times reporter John Dougherty and spiked the scribe's tape recorder onto First Avenue. Despite avowals to the contrary, Dowd on July 15 suggested that he just might replace Dougherty's slain appliance, and the two shook hands. Dowd even mumbled, "I don't dislike you."
Methinks, Dowd secretly yearns to hire Dougherty as an investigator for his law firm, because the Dowdster knows the Doughboy finds the truth. If he signed Dougherty's paycheck, Dowd not only would get breathtaking data, he wouldn't have Dougherty asking all those penetrating questions and writing all those hair-raising stories. And other reporters wouldn't pick up on the significance of Dougherty's queries.
Of course, Dowd would lose a convenient punching bag. Dowd frequently responds to Dougherty's civil, salient questions with such charming, respectful and informative rejoinders as "What planet are you from?" Dougherty has smiled through Dowd's transparent attempts to bait him during the trial.
But on July 10, after a morning of lame cross-examination at the Fifester's fraud and extortion trial, Dowd snapped. The bearish barrister did a dead-on imitation of a fuming, grumpy lawyer having a bad day, stomping down First Avenue and withholding his usual stream of bons mots.
When Dougherty persisted (he's played this game with Dowd before, so he's not about to be put off by a grizzly attitude), Dowd showed some of his jocular wit. Dougherty's doomed tape recorder caught this exchange:
Dougherty: "What's the difference between materiality and reliance in your case?"
Dowd: "You better ask [prosecutor George] Cardona. He's the genius on that one."
Dougherty: "How are you guys looking at it?"
Dowd: "I can't help you. We've already briefed it, it's in the briefs; read my briefs."
Dougherty: "Your defense looks like it's reliance more than materiality."
Dowd: "I can't help you, Dougherty."
Dougherty: "You can't explain the difference between materiality and reliance?"
Dowd: "I can explain it, but I'm not going to explain it to you."
Dougherty: "What about anybody else here?"
Dowd: "Well, I explained it to the court. It's all written."
Dougherty: "Are you in a bad mood today, John, or what?"
Dowd: "Well, I just don't like you, Dougherty. You're an asshole."
Dougherty: "All right, the sentiment's mutual."
Dowd: "I don't talk to assholes."
Dougherty: "You and I have the same feelings . . ."
(Dowd strikes the reporter in the shoulder, knocking Dougherty's tape recorder into the street.)
Dougherty: "You're a class act, buddy!"
(Tape stops; recorder mortally wounded.)
When the cantankerous counselor returned from his midday repast, he was still in character. Asked by Channel 3's Bennett Cunningham-Ortega about the swat, Dowd quipped, "You don't stick a tape recorder in somebody's face, jerko. You people got to remember there are other people that got rights, so just get out of my way."
New Times reporter Chris Farnsworth: "Mr. Dowd, are you going to pay for John Dougherty's tape recorder?"
Dowd: ( .)
Unidentified reporter: "Do you have any comment on that, Mr. Dowd?"
Farnsworth: "Why'd you strike John Dougherty today, Mr. Dowd?"
Dowd: ( .)
Farnsworth: "Is that an appropriate response to questions from the press, Mr. Dowd?"
Dowd: ( .)
Unidentified reporter: "Do you have any comment at all, Mr. Dowd?"
Dowd: "Yeah, he stuck a tape recorder into my face in the middle of the street and I'm not going to put up with it. I'm not going to be treated that way. I've treated you guys with respect and fairness, fair and square. Okay?"
Farnsworth: "So you feel striking someone is treating them fairly."
Dowd: "No, I just knocked it out of my face, asshole."
Farnsworth: "Are all reporters assholes, Mr. Dowd?"
Dowd: "No, just you."
Farnsworth: "I thought John Dougherty was, too."
Dowd: "He is, too. You both are."
Farnsworth: "Mr. Dowd, you're a lawyer, isn't that assault?"
Dowd: "It's assault when someone sticks something in your face."
Unidentified reporter: "Do you want to apologize to John Dougherty?"
Dowd: "No, I'm not going to apologize."
Farnsworth: "So you don't feel you've done anything wrong?"
Unidentified reporter: "Do you have anything you want to say to the New Times?"
Cunningham-Ortega: "The New Times says you need some counseling, Mr. Dowd."
Dowd: ( .)
Farnsworth: "Is this an indication you had a bad day in court, Mr. Dowd?"
Dowd: "I had a good day in court."
Farnsworth: "So why'd you strike Mr. Dougherty?"
Dowd: "I won't be treated that way, I'm not going to have someone stick something in my face."