Why and how were independent counsels appointed? What was their jurisdiction?
How was their investigative process supposed to work?
Here's a short summary, including an explanatory diagram.
Born out of the Watergate scandal two decades ago, the institution of the
independent counsel was created to handle politically sensitive investigations
and prosecutions involving the nation's highest government officials. Here's a brief history.
The former chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee is considered the
"father of the independent counsel law." Dash now teaches law at Georgetown
University and served until November 1998 as Ethics Advisor to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.
Heymann was a top assistant to Watergate Special Prosecutor Archie Cox. He
later served in the Justice Department during the Carter Administration and,
in 1993, held the number two post at the Department under Janet Reno. He left
Justice in 1994 and now teaches law at Harvard University.
Explanations of standard prosecutorial techniques used by independent counsels
and other prosecutors.
Besides Donald Smaltz, here are summaries of the investigations of the other special prosecutors appointed
since the independent counsel law's re-enactment in 1994. In all, there have been six others during the Clinton
Also, a chart of all investigations conducted
under the independent counsel statute since its inception in 1978.
A listing of costs incurred by independent counsels active from 1994-1997.
The case for and against -- from Sam Dash, Donald Smaltz, Paul Fishman,
former deputy to Attorney General Janet Reno, and Phil Heymann, top assistant to Watergate
Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
An explanation of the three-judge panel which choses and appointed independent