Leon Jaworski (Leon Jaworski)

Leon Jaworski

Lawyer. He is best remembered as the 2nd Special Prosecutor during the Watergate Scandal, replacing Archibald Cox who was dismissed. Born Leonidas Jaworski in Waco, Texas his father, a Polish immigrant, was an evangelical minister and his mother was an Austrian immigrant. After graduating from Waco High School, where he was a champion debater, he attended Baylor Law School in Waco and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree and received his Master’s Degree in law at The George Washington University Law School in Washington DC. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1925, the youngest person ever to accomplish that task. In 1931 he joined the Houston, Texas law firm that eventually became Fulbright & Jaworski. He served in the US Army as a lawyer during World War II, during which he prosecuted 43 black soldiers for the lynching of an Italian Prisoner of War during a riot at Fort Lawton, Oklahoma on August 14, 1944, of which 28 were convicted. After World War II was over, he served as a war crimes prosecutor in Germany but did not participate in the famous Nuremberg Trials on the grounds that the prosecution there was based on laws that did not exist at the time the crimes against humanity were committed. He received a promotion to colonel and soon left the Army to return to Houston, Texas and resume his civilian law career. He became a friend to Lyndon Baines Johnson and successfully represented him in a lawsuit filed to prevent Johnson from campaigning for the US Senate while running as the US Vice President on the John F. Kennedy Democratic ticket. On November 1, 1973 he was appointed to the position of Watergate Special Prosecutor, in which some of President Richard Nixon’s senior advisers were being tried on criminal charges of covering up the events that led to the Watergate break-in. He initially believed that Nixon was not involved in the scandal but after learning that he had discussed the cover-up with the accused on many occasions and that the conversations had been recorded by the White House taping system, he had the tapes subpoenaed as evidence for the trial but Nixon refused to release then, citing executive privilege. After unsuccessful attempts by Nixon to reach an acceptable compromise, Jaworski requested the US Supreme Court to take the case directly and on July 24, 1974 they ruled that the Special Prosecutor had the right to sue the President for the tapes and Nixon was forced to hand over the unedited tapes, including the so-called “Smoking gun Taps,” in which included a compromising discussion of June 23, 1972. President Nixon’s remaining support unraveled and he resigned on August 9, 1974. In October 1974 Jaworski resigned as the Watergate Special Prosecutor and returned to Texas, where he taught as an adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio for the next few years. In 1977 he agreed to serve as special counsel to a House Ethics Committee investigation to determine if members had accepted anything of value, directly or indirectly, from the government of the Republic of Korea, which became known as “Koreagate” or the Tongsun Park investigation. The investigation ended with only ten Democratic members of Congress who were seriously implicated, of whom most decided to resign. In 1980 he became treasurer of the “Democrats for Reagan” during the general election campaign. He died at his ranch near Wimberley, in Hayes County, Texas at the age of 77. (bio by: William Bjornstad)


  • September, 19, 1905
  • USA


  • December, 12, 1982
  • USA


  • Memorial Oaks Cemetery
  • Texas
  • USA

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