Ida Maxwell “Maxie” Wells has noted an appeal to her $5.1 million defamation lawsuit against convicted Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, which a federal judge dismissed after the jury hearing the case “hopelessly deadlocked” 7-2 in Liddy’s favor last month.This appeal will be Wells’ second trip to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in this matter. The federal appeals court sent it back for trial in 1999 after U.S. District Chief Judge J. Frederick Motz granted Liddy’s motion for summary judgment in 1998.
Key to Wells’ appeal is the claim that the court placed more emphasis on the “overall Silent Coup call-girl theory rather than whether Wells was personally involved in prostitution activities,” according to the application filed by her lawyer, David M. Dorsen.
Among other issues raised on appeal, Wells claims that evidence she presented of Liddy’s alleged negligence was sufficient to thwart Motz’s directed verdict, consistent with the earlier 4th Circuit holding in this matter.
She also claims the district court erroneously denied her motion to amend her complaint to include an allegation that Liddy schemed fraudulently to transfer his assets while making defamatory statements about her for profit.
Wells, a secretary at the Democratic National Committee at the time of the Watergate break-in, sued Liddy in 1997, saying he had impugned her reputation by telling audiences that she kept a manila envelope with call-girl photos in her desk and that she used them to arrange trysts for visiting Democratic politicians.
Wells claimed Liddy’s sole source for the story was Philip Mackin Bailley, a convicted and disbarred lawyer with a history of substance abuse and mental illness, and that Liddy knew Bailley was unreliable.
Although Motz said in his ruling that Liddy’s counsel hardly proved the so-called “call girl theory” of the infamous 1972 burglary that their client espouses, the judge said that evidence presented at trial raised significant questions about the event that led to the downfall of President Richard M. Nixon — and that Liddy had a fundamental free-speech right to talk about his theory.