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Watergate Prosecutor


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William Merrill grew up in an upper-class suburb of Detroit, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II, graduated from Dartmouth College after the war, and earned his law degree at Yale University. In 1968 he served as the Michigan state director of the campaign to elect Robert Kennedy to the Presidency.


"I found this fascinating, if at times painful, reading. . . .While Bill Merrill was the prosecutor who was responsible for sending me to prison, I came away from Watergate with a deep respect for him-someone who was almost reluctantly doing his job, but doing it out of faithfulness to the Constitution."
The conspiracy trial of John Ehrlichman, once President Nixon's top domestic aide, and three lesser members of the White House 'plumbers' team got off to a dramatic start in a federal courtroom last week. Assistant Special Prosecutor William Merrill charged that a few weeks before Ehrlichman was forced to resign last year, he had secretly removed three incriminating memos from a file on the plumbers in the White House--but David Young, a co-director of the secret investigating unit, had foresightedly retained copies. Said Merrill to the jury . . . "Mr. Ehrlichman lied. Why would a man like Ehrlichman lie? Because it was clear from the documents that he was implicated." Merrill charged that Ehrlichman, despite his denials, was shown by the memos to have had advance knowledge of the break-in at the office of Dr. Lewis Fielding, who had been Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist. . . . Prosecutor Merrill [argued] the break-in was "the willful, arrogant act of men who took the law into their own hands because they thought they were above the law."

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