Alumnus attributes Nuns Case win to Cornell

Few traffic ticket cases elicit the kind of attention Clifford Lund ‘73 found when he took on “The Nuns Case” in Chicago. And few schools, Lund said, could have prepared him for the case as well as Cornell College.

The Nuns case, as it was known in Chicago, involved an accident in which a nun was accused of causing a fatal car crash by running a red light. The nun, Marie Marot, a 24-year-old member of LaFraternite Notre Dame, was defended by Lund and his partner.

The case garnered national attention when Lund’s team successfully argued to allow Marot and her sisters to wear their habits while in court, and when Marot was acquitted despite all other witnesses insisting she was responsible.

Lund said the case turned on the successful cross examination of the State’s witness, a cross examination he said was made possible by his time at Cornell.

“I attribute my ability to cross examine anyone on any subject to the education I received at Cornell College as a philosophy and political science major learning to think from the general to the specific, while mastering the facts, and attending to the details,” said Lund.

The case, which was originally a “slam dunk for the prosecution,” according to Lund, turned into a 30-minute jury deliberation and an acquittal after his cross examination.

“Professors Debbins, Gray , Crossett, Berry, and Allin taught me how to stand toe to toe with the greatest thinkers,” said Lund. “So having faced down Aristotle and Plato I was ready to stand up and grind towards the truth in the courtroom.

“People always ask at the end of a trial how I learned to ask such questions,” added Lund. “I smile. Sometimes I say one of my professors’ names, but most of the time I proudly say: I went to Cornell College and the place is still making me think.”

Read about it in the Chicago Sun-Times.