Tristani Makes Staff Changes at FCC


Washington-The Federal Communications Commission's Gloria Tristani said last week that her top legal adviser, Rich Chessen, is leaving and will be replaced by New Mexico lawyer William J. Friedman.

Tristani also announced that Deborah Klein, chief of the Consumer Protection and Competition Division in the Cable Services Bureau, has been appointed to serve as her interim legal advisor for mass-media and cable issues.

Chessen joined Tristani's staff in 1997, coming from a top position in the CSB, where he helped to write the agency's rules governing open-video-system operators.

Friedman has been the lead attorney in a prominent case in New Mexico. His client, Gordon House, killed four people in a drunken-driving auto accident in 1992, but he was never jailed following two mistrials, according to the Albuquerque Journal newspaper.

The trial was moved from Taos County to Dona Ana County, where House was convicted in less than five hours and sentenced to 22 years in prison in 1995.

House, a Native American, is appealing because by moving the trial from Taos-a community rich in Indian culture-the judge denied him a fair trial because the Dona Ana jury pool was less than 1 percent Native American.

In an interview, Friedman said he hopes he can continue to represent House after joining the FCC, but didn't know whether commission employment rules would permit it.