Saturday, December 20, 2008


Attorney McNabb - An Example for Us All

Conscientia legalis ex lege fundatur.

(The legal conscience is founded upon the law.)


I have posted before on the activities of Mr. McNabb, a University of Minnesota alumnus, and someone who walks the talk of civic engagement, public service, and, basically, doing the right thing.

For some background please see the following post:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The WCAL Outrage
At Least One Judge Won't Stand For It




Now in a truly stunning performance Attorney McNabb lays bare the sadly corrupt behavior of many people responsible for the demise of WCAL, an excellent public radio station.

From the Save WCAL site:

SaveWCAL's recent Memorandum of Law is a powerful, compelling document that clearly and succinctly lays out St. Olaf's malfeasance as the trustee of WCAL and MPR's role as co-conspirator in the illegal sale of WCAL's assets and destruction of WCAL's 80,000+ strong "community of listeners." As some of you have noted, it's also a "good read."

Following are the sole remarks made by SaveWCAL attorney Michael McNabb in response to a total of around 45 minutes of presentations by the St. Olaf College, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) attorneys and the Minnesota Attorney General repeating specific points of law — points that each of the parties had already thoroughly discussed in their memoranda previously submitted to Rice County District Court Judge Bernard Borene.

McNabb spoke in measured and somber tones as he said:

The specific points of law raised by St. Olaf and by MPR have all been addressed in my Memorandum of Law of Decembe 9 and in my Letter Memorandum of December 16 [forthcoming on the SaveWCAL.net web site], and no further rebuttal is necessary. Instead, I will use the time allotted to me for some remarks on general principles.

The word “perdition” means loss of the soul or eternal damnation. The Road to Perdition traveled by St. Olaf and by MPR has led us this morning to a court of equity. The historical origins of this very courtroom date back to medieval England when the King’s subjects would go to the Lord Chancellor, the royal official who “held the King’s conscience.” From the Chancellor’s rulings there evolved the courts of equity, the conscience of the law. Now we ask for the verdict of equity on the actions of the parties in this case.

At this point, McNabb went and wrote on the whiteboard:

Conscientia legalis ex lege fundatur.
(The legal conscience is founded upon the law.)

McNabb then continued:


It is unconscionable for a church affiliated college to violate its promises given to generations of donors to use their gifts for a charitable trust, a public radio station.

It is unconscionable for a church affiliated college to engage in a conspiracy carried out in secret meetings with its business partner to attempt to convert that trust into an instrument for its own financial gain.

It is unconscionable for MPR to attempt to engage in the fratricide of a fellow founding member of National Public Radio and thereby destroy a community of some 80,000 listeners.

It is unconscionable for the Attorney General, the chief legal officer of our State, to intentionally fail to honor her oath of office to enforce the law on charitable trusts.

It is unconscionable for business partners to attempt to evade the jurisdiction of this court over charitable trusts and to be aided and abetted in that unlawful enterprise by a dereliction of duty on the part of the Attorney General.

As my colleague, Phil Voxland, has said, the WCAL donors were believers who had faith that future listeners would also be blessed by a radio station that lasted longer than their own earthly lives.

The WCAL donors, both living and deceased, who can now speak only through us, believed that their church affiliated college would never betray their trust.

And so today all those donors and beneficiaries of the magnificent public radio station they created and sustained for over 80 years with their charitable contributions entrust their fate and their station to this court of equity.


There was a long pause after these comments before McNabb indicated his remarks were done. As expected, the original presentation took the other attorneys by complete surprise. After McNabb finished and when asked by when Judge Borene if they had anything to say in rebuttal, they each responded with a very quiet "no."



Well-played Mr. McNabb, I wish I had been there.

1 comment:

philosoraptor said...

How to respond, except: "Wow"?

I wonder who'll play him in the movie.