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John Dean to lecture on campus as part of Watergate symposium, Jan. 26-27

January 18, 2012
John Dean

Chapman University will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-ins and investigation with two days of events open to the public on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 26 and 27 in the Chapman School of Law.  Several prominent Watergate figures will be taking part, including John Dean, former White House counsel who ultimately testified against President Richard Nixon, and Alex Butterfield, who served as deputy assistant to President Nixon and maintained the Oval Office’s secret taping system.

It has been four decades since the day in 1972 that Dean, then 34 years old, learned that police had arrested five men for breaking into and entering the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.  Events that unfolded in the week following the break-in would lead directly to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, the nation’s 37th President.

“In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, legislation was born, rules of legal ethics were shaped, and presidential powers and immunities were altered forever,” said Tom Campbell, dean of the Chapman University School of Law.  “For the legal community, Watergate is a pivotal marker in the development of modern law.”

The first event will feature Dean speaking on “Watergate Revisited” at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 in Kennedy Hall 237.  Dean will be joined by Chapman law professor Ronald Rotunda, a recognized authority on ethics who was assistant majority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee and later was advisor to Ken Starr in the Whitewater investigations.  Also joining the presentation will be lawyer/historian Jim Robenault.  Dean will walk the audience through the first week after the Watergate break-in, laying out the legal and ethical dilemmas he faced as he learned more about the unfolding situation.    Three units of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit are available to legal professionals attending this presentation. The presentation is free but advance registration is required and may be arranged by emailing

The commemoration continues with a law symposium exploring the legal legacy of Watergate. Titled “The 40th Anniversary of Watergate: A Commemoration of the Rule of Law,” the symposium kicks off Thursday evening, Jan. 26, with a welcome dinner that will feature Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate prosecutor. Wine-Banks was one of the only women involved in the Watergate investigation and as such, will be speaking about her experience in this role as well as what the historical event has meant for women 40 years later.

The symposium resumes Friday, Jan. 27, with a full schedule of other panels and talks, all to be held in Kennedy Hall 237. In addition to Dean, program participants will include Butterfield, Rotunda, Campbell, Scott Armstrong (a staff member of the Senate Watergate Committee and former Washington Post journalist) and a roster of visiting law professors from across the nation.  Topics will include “Obstruction of Justice: Does History Have it Wrong?” and Dean’s lunchtime keynote, “Watergate’s Unanswered Questions.”

Symposium pricing is as follows: Welcome dinner only, $75; symposium only, including luncheon, $75; welcome dinner and symposium, $125.

The symposium is presented by Chapman Law Review, a student-run scholarly journal published by Chapman University School of Law. Symposium registration is required by filling out an online form here and calling 714-628-2605.

The Friday symposium will also be webcast live at<

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