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Key events in Paula Jones’ sexual harassment case against President Clinton

May 28, 1997

Some major actions and events in Paula Jones’ civil suit against President Clinton.


Feb. 11: At a Washington press conference, former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones tells reporters she spurned an unwanted sexual advance from then-Gov. Clinton in Little Rock in 1991. The White House denies that the episode occurred.

May 3: President Clinton hires Washington lawyer Robert Bennett as one of his private attorneys. One of Bennett’s first tasks is to deal with a threatened lawsuit by Mrs. Jones.

May 6: Mrs. Jones files a civil suit against Clinton in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark. She seeks $700,000 in damages from Clinton for ``willful, outrageous and malicious conduct″ at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock on May 8, 1991. Her court papers accuse Clinton of ``sexually harassing and assaulting″ her; then defaming her with denials.

June 10: Danny Ferguson, an Arkansas state trooper named in Mrs. Jones’ suit, denies in court papers that he ever told the woman that Clinton wanted to meet her in a hotel room. Danny says he made small talk with Mrs. Jones at the Excelsior Hotel and pointed out Clinton’s room to her. He says he didn’t give her a piece of paper with Clinton’s room number and didn’t tell her that Clinton, then the governor, wanted to get together with her at the hotel.

June 28: President Clinton establishes a personal legal defense fund.

July 21: U.S. District Judge Susan W. Wright rules that the issue of presidential immunity from lawsuits will be settled before the substance of the sexual harassment case is heard.

Aug. 10: President Clinton files a motion to dismiss Mrs. Jones’ suit on the grounds of presidential immunity.

Aug. 19: The Justice Department files a brief supporting President Clinton’s position that action on Mrs. Jones’ suit should be delayed until he leaves office.

Oct. 1: Mrs. Jones and her lawyers propose a settlement that calls for the president to read a statement to reporters saying he does not deny the meeting took place and absolving her of any improper or sexual conduct. Clinton’s lawyer rejects the offer five days later.

Oct. 7: Mrs. Jones tells reporters at a Los Angeles news conference she will go ahead with her lawsuit, and that she regrets Clinton’s rejection of a settlement.

Oct 21: Mrs. Jones’ lawyers file a motion asking that the case be heard promptly. They argue that no one, not even the president, is above the law.

Dec. 28: Judge Wright rules that a trial cannot take place until Clinton leaves office. But, she also rules that fact-finding procedures such as taking sworn statements from witnesses could proceed while Clinton is in office.


Jan. 17: Mrs. Jones appeals Judge Wright’s ruling, asking the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis to reverse the decision postponing a trial.

Jan. 18: Clinton files an appeal with the 8th Circuit Court asking that all action in the case be delayed.

Feb. 24: Judge Wright delays fact-finding in the case, pending a ruling by the appeals court.

Sept. 14: A three-judge appeals court panel hears oral arguments in the case. Clinton’s lawyers argue that allowing Mrs. Jones’ case to proceed while the president is in office would distract him from more important matters. Mrs. Jones’ lawyers argue she should have the same rights as anyone else bringing a lawsuit.


Jan. 9: The three-judge panel rules 2-1 that Mrs. Jones’ lawsuit can go to trial. Clinton’s attorney, Robert Bennett, says he will appeal the ruling.

March 28: The appellate court refuses to reconsider its decision.

May 15: Clinton asks the Supreme Court to delay Mrs. Jones’ case until he leaves office.

May 17: Mrs. Jones files court papers asking the Supreme Court to allow her lawsuit to go forward.

June 24: The Supreme Court agrees to consider whether Mrs. Jones’ lawsuit should be delayed until Clinton leaves office. The move puts the lawsuit on hold until after the November election.


Jan. 13: The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case.

May 27: The Supreme Court rules that Mrs. Jones can pursue her sex-harassment lawsuit against President Clinton while he is in office.

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