thoughts and links

Was David Iglesias really the basis of lawyer in “A Few Good Men?”

I was working for the New Mexico Independent when the Inspectors General report came out about politically-motivated firings of United States Attorneys during the Bush administration. One of those attorneys was the United States Attorney in New Mexico, David Iglesias.

Iglesias was allegedly fired (it will likely never be definitely proven although much evidence points to it) for not pursuing a voter fraud case that could have helped Republican Heather Wilson more easily win a congressional election (Wilson eventually won, but by less than 1,000 votes over a flawed candidate in Patricia Madrid). 

The excuse for firing Iglesias was that he was shirking his duties. He was an absentee landlord. Other stuff.

But the picture of Iglesias, a Republican, that came out were glowing. He was lauded for his work on voter fraud. He had a sterling record. The time spent away from the office was because he was in the Navy Reserve. He was even one of the lawyers that Tom Cruise’s character in “A Few Good Men” was based on.

Or was he?

The New York Times finds that Iglesias is one of four attorneys to make the claim that Cruise’s character in the movie, penned by Aaron Sorkin, was based on him.

Each of the four men who believe Tom Cruise brought them to life on film played a role in that case. (The script calls the Cruise character “almost impossible not to like.”) Ten Marines faced assault charges, and each had a military lawyer.

Several of the lawyers had good hair, including David C. Iglesias, a Navy lawyer at the time. He later became nationally known as the United States attorney in New Mexico who said he was fired for political reasons along with six other United States attorneys in 2006 by the administration of President George W. Bush.

Seven of the 10 Marines originally charged did not go to trial, including Mr. Sorkin’s sister’s client. But Mr. Iglesias, Mr. Johnson and Donald Marcari, a Virginia lawyer, represented three Marines who claimed in trials that the hazing had been indirectly ordered by officers.

“The Cruise character is a composite of the three of us,” Mr. Iglesias said in an interview. His version, simplified by various interviewers, has appeared several times before. A Washington Post article in 2007 said that the “strong-jawed” Mr. Iglesias was “said” to have inspired the “dreamy” Lieutenant Kaffee. Simplification played out elsewhere as well. Mr. Marcari declared on his Virginia-North Carolina law firm’s Web site that “his exploits as a young defense attorney with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps became the basis for the motion picture ‘A Few Good Men.’ ”

So, was Iglesias, the likely wrongly-fired and good-looking, Hispanic lawyer part of the basis for Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee? Or was it one of the other three?

Sorkin responded, through a spokesperson, in an email:

“The character of Dan Kaffee in ‘A Few Good Men’ is entirely fictional and was not inspired by any particular individual.”

Well then.

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