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David Boies
David Boies
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David Boies Biography

Counselor and Human Rights Advocate

David Boies Date of birth: March 11, 1941

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  David Boies

David Boies was born in Sycamore, Illinois, and spent the first ten years of his life in the countryside. Both parents were school teachers, and he recalls being inspired by his father's passion for American history.

In his first years of school, he had difficulty learning to read, a condition he now recognizes as dyslexia, although the term was unknown at the time. He excelled at other aspects of his studies, and cultivated his capacity for memorization, enabling him to compensate for his disability.

When he was 11 years old, the family moved to Fullerton, California, where he graduated from Fullerton University High School. He enrolled at the University of Redlands, where he completed three academic years in two. He credits reading the Perry Mason novels as youngster with first interesting him in life as a courtroom attorney. He took the Law School Admissions Test while still in his first semester at college. He won admission to Northwestern University Law School; midway through his program at Northwestern he transferred to Yale Law. At Yale, he concentrated on antitrust law, and graduated second in his class.

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He joined the firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City, where he defended IBM in a series of antitrust cases brought by the Justice Department and many private competitors. He earned a reputation as a formidable litigator and became a partner of the firm in 1972, two years ahead of schedule. He was 31.

Boies put his expertise in antitrust law at the service of the United States Senate in 1978 as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the United States Senate Antitrust Subcommittee. The following year, he served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the Senate Judiciary Committee. While in Washington, he met Mary McInnis, an attorney working in the White House of President Jimmy Carter. The couple returned to New York, married and started a family.

In 1982, Boies became involved in one of the most heavily reported civil cases of the era, Westmoreland v. CBS. A CBS documentary, The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception, had asserted that General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in the Vietnam War, had deliberately underrepresented the enemy's troop strength to preserve political support for the war effort. General Westmoreland sued CBS television and its correspondent Mike Wallace for libel. David Boies represented CBS, and his masterful cross-examination of the plaintiff's witnesses, including the General himself, so impressed the jury that the General agreed to dismiss the case without payment, retraction or apology. Each side issued a conciliatory statement and paid its own legal expenses.

David Boies Biography Photo
Boies defended CBS again in its successful attempt to resist a takeover attempt by Ted Turner. These and other cases further burnished Boies's growing reputation as a litigator. While his courtroom exploits attracted increasing coverage from the national press, the attention paid to Boies personally contributed to friction between Boies and some of his colleagues at Cravath, Swain & Moore. Matters came to a head in 1997, when Boies agreed to represent New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in a dispute against the other teams of Major League Baseball. Time Warner, a longtime Cravath client, was also the owner of the Atlanta Braves and objected to Boies's participation in the Yankees' suit. Boies's decision to leave Cravath Swain & Moore after 30 years made the front page of The New York Times.

Shortly after leaving Cravath, Boies founded a new firm with a Washington-based lawyer Jonathan Schiller, and the firm grew rapidly. Meanwhile, a case was brewing that returned Boies to his original area of expertise, antitrust law.

In the 1990s, Microsoft enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the personal computer marketplace with its Windows operating system. As consumers increasingly used their personal computers to explore the Internet, upstart companies like Netscape were supplying the needed software. The U.S. Justice Department saw Microsoft attempting to suppress competition in the browser market by bundling its own Explorer browser with Windows, and manipulating the operating system to make it incompatible with competitors' products. The Justice Department sought Boies's assistance in the case. At the time of the antitrust suit, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was not only one of the most admired leaders in American business, he was believed to be the richest man in the world.

David Boies Biography Photo
Microsoft's counsel enjoyed an almost limitless budget to conduct its defense, while the government could only pay Boies and his firm a fraction of the rate he charged his corporate clients. Despite Microsoft's vast resources, Gates and his colleagues could not stand up to Boies's cross-examination. The trial judge found that Microsoft had created a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and ordered that the company be broken up, so that its operating system could be produced by a separate entity than its other software products. The Appeals Court overturned the judge's ruling but did not dispute the facts of the case and ordered a lower court to reconsider and devise a different remedy. Meanwhile the Department of Justice and Microsoft reached a settlement, requiring Microsoft to make its application programming interfaces available to third-party developers.

While the Microsoft case worked its way through the courts, Boies took on a case that will be studied and debated for years to come. The outcome of the 2000 Presidential election hinged on the results in the state of Florida. The Florida Division of Elections reported that Governor George W. Bush of Texas had won the election by a narrow margin, less than 0.5 percent of the votes cast, triggering an automatic machine recount. When an incomplete machine recount reduced Governor Bush's margin of victory still further, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide manual recount. The Florida legislature opposed the state Supreme Court's decision and the matter was referred to the United States Supreme Court. Partisan sentiment colored every step of the controversy. The legislature, controlled by Republicans, supported the claim of Governor Bush, a Republican. The Florida Supreme Court, dominated by Democratic appointees ordered the recount requested by the Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore.

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Prior to hearing the case, the Supreme Court voted five to four to stop the recount ordered by the Florida Court. The Court heard oral arguments in Bush v. Gore on December 11, 2000. Governor Bush's campaign was represented by attorney Theodore Olson. David Boies represented the campaign of Vice president Al Gore. Typically, the Court considers a case for several months after oral argument, but due to the urgency of resolving the presidential election, the Court issued its finding the following day. Voting five to four once again, it ordered a stop to the recount, effectively leaving the state legislature free to award the state's 25 electors to Governor Bush, giving him the minimum of 271 votes in the Electoral College needed to win the presidency.

Inevitably, observers noted that the five Justices voting to stop the recount were appointed by Republican presidents. Of the four dissenting Justices, two were appointed by a Democratic president, two by Republicans. Although Boies was disappointed by the outcome of the case, a rare defeat in his career, he was impressed by the collegiality of the process, and particularly by the skill of the opposing counsel, Theodore Olson.

In 2009, Boies and Olson joined forces to overturn the state of California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. The District Court judge ruled in their clients' favor, finding Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. In 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Perry v. Hollingsworth that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have standing to challenge the ruling, allowing the District Court judgment to stand, and same-sex marriages resumed in California. Boies and Olson told the story of the case from their point of view in their 2014 book Redeeming the Dream. The Supreme Court struck down bans on gay marriage in the remaining states in Obergefell v. Hodges, in 2015.

David Boies Biography Photo
David Boies continues to chair his law firm, Boies, Schiller and Flexner, LLP, with over 200 attorneys in offices across the country. His clients include Altria, American Express, Apple, Barclays, CBS, DuPont, HSBC, NASCAR, The New York Yankees, Oracle, Sony, Theranos, and The Weinstein Company.

David and Mary Boies make their home in Armonk, New York. In addition to his law practice, David Boies enjoys ocean sailing and owns the Hawk and Horse Vineyards in Northern California. Among their many benefactions to education, David and Mary Boies have endowed chairs at the University of Redlands, the University of Pennsylvania, Tulane University Law School, and Yale Law School. They also fund a Mary and David Boies Fellowship for foreign students at the Harvard Kennedy School. Overseas, they support the Central European and Eurasian Law Institute (CEELI), a Prague-based institute that trains judges from newly democratized countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Close to home, they donated $5 million to build a new emergency room at Northern Westchester Hospital, in Mount Kisco, New York and host an annual picnic for hundreds of incoming Teach for America volunteers. David Boies currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.

This page last revised on Oct 02, 2015 17:53 EDT
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