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"You see, I have a real simple attitude about this: why in the world should any litigant or his lawyer have the fears and apprehensions that people used to have about getting assigned to a courtroom in San Diego? As to whether the trial was already rigged? Why in the world should you have to worry about that? What a terrible thing! And [that] was at one point a very legitimate concern. It's the court I'm on! And I just found it intolerable. But [if you speak out], there's a payback, and that's the reason most people opted out of saying anything publicly or doing anything."

Are things better since he blew the whistle? Yes, says O'Rourke. "I think it would be safe to say that there has been a pretty substantial change in the way business is being done in the courts and by the lawyers. On the whole there certainly doesn't appear to be any outright bribery going on here."

But Leslie Abramson believes the hostility O'Rourke faced at his hearing is a sign that the war is not over. "Obviously what's going on is because Terry is candid, which is not welcomed, particularly among right-wing politicians like [retired judge] Arabian. Obviously Terry didn't, as we say in Yiddish, kish Arabian in tuches farren — didn't kiss his ass."

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