Dash, Samuel 1925-2004

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DASH, Samuel 1925-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born February 27, 1925, in Camden, NJ; died of multiple organ failure, May 29, 2004, in Washington, DC. Attorney, educator, and author. A champion of ethics in government throughout his career, Dash was a prominent figure in investigations ranging from Watergate through the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. After serving his country as a pilot in Italy during World War II, he returned home to complete his bachelor's degree at Temple University, followed by a law degree from Harvard in 1950. As a young lawyer, he worked as a trial attorney for the Justice Department for a time before moving to Philadelphia, where he worked in the district attorney's office from 1952 to 1956, serving as district attorney from 1955 to 1956. From 1956 to 1958 he was a partner in the firm of Blank & Rudenko, and from 1958 to 1963 he was a partner in the Dash & Levy firm. During the next two years, Dash served as director of the Philadelphia Council Community Advancement. His academic career began in 1965, when he joined the faculty at Georgetown University as professor of law and director of the Institute of Criminal Law and Procedure. Dash became a nationally recognized figure when he was selected as chief counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee, the hearings for which were televised across the country. The committee successfully worked to obtain the Nixon tapes that led to the president's resignation. Although Dash will likely be remembered most for his role on the Watergate Committee, his involvement in ethics and the law was just beginning. Along with Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, in the 1970s he established standards for trial lawyers to be used by the American Bar Association, and in 1972 he investigated the events of "Bloody Sunday" in which a number of Irish Catholics were killed by British soldiers; his resulting report eventually compelled the British government to compensate the families of those who were killed. Dash performed similar investigations for other countries, too, including, as part of the Cerro Maravilla investigation from 1983 to 1992, looking into the killing of students by the government of Puerto Rico; and he work to reverse a decision by the government of Chile to exile human rights leaders. From 1977 to 1981, he was on the Law Reform Commission of Australia, and in 1985 he served as chief counsel for the impeachment committee of the Senate of Alaska. Dash also made the news that year as the first American to interview Nelson Mandela, while the future president of South Africa was still imprisoned by the country's white government. More recently, Dash was on the Whitewater Matter commission led by Kenneth Starr in the 1990s to investigate President Bill Clinton as to whether he should be impeached. Dash resigned from the commission in 1998, charging that Starr had exceeded his mandated authority in a prejudiced effort to oust Clinton from office. In 2002 Dash was again searching for unethical behavior while on a task force that investigated the Washington, D.C., area United Way. In his writings, Dash has written against government misconduct, publishing Eavesdroppers (1959), which he wrote with Richard F. Schwartz, Chief Counsel: Inside the Ervin Committee—The Untold Story of Watergate (1976), and completing The Intruders: Unreasonable Searches and Seizures from King John to John Ashcroft just before his death. Always wary of government's control over its citizenry, in his final months Dash warned against the dangers of President Bush's Patriot Act; in his teaching, he urged his students to always act ethically, to be proud of their profession as lawyers, and to not be afraid to say "no" when morality demanded it.



Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2004, p. B19.

New York Times, May 31, 2004, p. A19.

Times (London, England), June 15, 2004, p. 29.

Washington Post, May 30, 2004, p. C10.