[transcript of Today Show with Lin Wood, ref the Steve Thomas lawsuit; Date of show = April 3, 2001; Copy furnished courtesy Justice Watch Forum]
MATT LAUER: It's nearly four and a half years now since the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. The 6 year old beauty queen was found murdered in her home. The case, of course, remains unsolved and it continues to take bizarre twists and turns. Last week, JonBenet's parents John and Patsy Ramsey filed an eighty million dollar lawsuit against former Boulder police detective Steve Thomas who, remember, wrote that book accusing Patsy of killing her daughter. Lin Wood is the attorney for the Ramsey family. We should note we invited Steve Thomas and his attorney to appear, but they declined. Mr. Wood its good to have you here.
LIN WOOD: Nice to see you, Matt.
MATT LAUER: Eighty million dollars is a lot of money. Why the lawsuit exactly? Give me the best reason.
LIN WOOD: Steve Thomas falsely accused Patsy Ramsey of killing her daughter and he did it trying to add weight to his statement by saying he was a former detective that was familiar with the facts of the case when in fact his book misrepresents the facts of the case and comes up with a fictionalized account of what happened to JonBenet that night.
MATT LAUER: You use --
LIN WOOD: It's an accusation that can't stand.
MATT LAUER: You use the term vigilante justice in describing this, why that?
LW: Absolutely. Well, what you've got, you got a disgruntled, by his own admission, an emotionally ill former detective who was dissatisfied with the fact that reasonable, experienced prosecutors looked at the evidence after several years, and said this evidence doesn't justify charging John or Patsy Ramsey with any crime, and Steve Thomas decided to take justice into his own hands and go out and publish a book and do to the Ramseys what the justice system refused to do.
MATT LAUER: But he didn't prosecute them. He doesn't have any legal ability to prosecute them. He simply stated that what he thinks happened on that night in the Ramsey house. So why doesn't he have the right to do that?
LIN WOOD: He has the right to speak about the case. No one's going to deny Steve Thomas his first amendment rights, although he's trampled on my clients' rights, but he doesn't have the right to go out and falsely accuse someone of a crime; and I would beg to differ with you Matte. He did prosecute them. He prosecuted them in the court of public opinion, because when he gets the headlines in the book, that become headlines in the Denver Post and the other newspapers around the country, ex-cop accuses Ramsey, he sends a message to America that Patsy Ramsey is guilty. She's not guilty, and this rogue cop I believe, as Alex Hunter the DA out there has described him, now has to be held accountable for what he did to this family.
MATT LAUER: One of the things you're angry about, you seem to think he got a hold of some confidential police sources and files.
LIN WOOD: I know he did. I know he did.
MATT LAUER: And so as part of the the lawsuit you charge against four John Does and one Jane Doe, but aren't they the ones really to blame if they gave confidential information over to Mr. Thomas. Is it his fault they were willing to do that?
LIN WOOD: Steve Thomas not only got information from present members of the Boulder Police Department that was confidential and privileged, but he took information with him and literally stole information from the police files to go out and use it to publish a book for profit.
MATT LAUER: You can prove that?
LIN WOOD: Absolutely. Look, I've read his book several times and in that book you will find repeated references to transcripts of interviews with my clients interrogations. So he took that information --
MATT LAUER: But again, that could have been given to him.
LIN WOOD: Oh no, he went to --
MATT LAUER: But again it could have been given to him. It doesn't mean he stole it
LIN WOOD: Well, "stole" is my way of describing what you do when you take someone else's property and convert it to your own use, and that's what he did here. We know from his own admission that one night he went out to Kinkos and spent all night copying the case file.
MATT LAUER: Mr Thomas, as I said, didn't want to be here today, nor did his lawyer, but here's the statement they sent along, Lin. "I stand by my convictions. The Ramseys have no right to silence me or anyone else who wishes to seek the truth and speak out about this horrible tragedy of injustice. I will vigorously defend myself against the Ramseys' lawsuit and look forward to the opportunity to expose in a court of law what happened in the Ramsey home on Christmas night 1996."
MATT LAUER: What he's referring to there I would imagine is, as part of this lawsuit he'll get the chance to depose the Ramseys, won't he?
LIN WOOD: Absolutely. And I'll get the chance to depose Steve Thomas. And I'll have the opportunity to expose the fact that this man's charges are not based on credible, reliable evidence. John and Patsy Ramsey have had to go into a court of law with this lawsuit, Matt, and in effect prove their innocence. Now, something's wrong with that picture. The way it's suppose to work, they are suppose to be presumed innocent, and yet here they are now with the justice system turned literally upside down, and they're forced to go out and prove their innocence in a court of law. But they're willing to do that, look, Steve Thomas didn't put us in court, except through his false accusations. They made the decision that they would file this lawsuit and put at issue themselves. The truth of that night.
MATT LAUER: And you said that you don't want to settle this lawsuit. You want to go right to court with this.
LIN WOOD: Look, I think I said, and accurately so, that I don't file lawsuits to settle them and John and Patsy didn't file this.
MATT LAUER: Are you open to a settlement?
LIN WOOD: This case is not a case that is amenable to settlement. I don't know what his publisher might do. Steve Thomas has hired a very good lawyer. I expected that he would. He made a lot of money on the book and I expect that we're going to litigate this case. We're prepared to litigate.
MATT LAUER: At this stage right now are the Ramseys public figures right now?
LIN WOOD: It's an interesting question. I am sure that everyone assumes that they are because they are so public in terms of this case and exposure.
MATT LAUER: The question has a bearing on this lawsuit.
LIN WOOD: It does and it's a legal issue and I would say there are questions here about whether you become a legal public figure when you basically go out and try to refute accusations made against you.
MATT LAUER: Because if they are public figures then there's a higher standard of proof required to prove defamation.
LIN WOOD: True. But under either standard of proof we are willing to take this case on. No question about that.
MATT LAUER: Lin Wood. Lin, thank you for your time.
LIN WOOD: Thanks for having me on.