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Philip B. Heymann, 89, Dies; Prosecuted Watergate and Abscam

Mr. Heymann was praised for walking a thin line between showing concern for the rights of the defendants but not over-arguing that the public should be shut out. He wrote later that he lost that effort not unintentionally, because he had wanted to protect Mr. Cox from being perceived as the man who tried to stop the nation from watching the process unfold. Televising the hearings played an important role in building the case against Nixon.

Mr. Heymann was “as close to Archibald Cox as a son,” wrote James Doyle, author of “Not Above the Law” (1977), a book about Watergate. Mr. Cox took on heroic stature after Nixon had him fired in 1973 in the Saturday Night Massacre, so-called because Nixon had first fired two top Justice Department officials who had refused to fire Mr. Cox. But even before then, Mr. Cox had been an inspiration to Mr. Heymann.

Public service, Mr. Heymann wrote in an unpublished memoir toward the end of his life, requires the sort of courage that Mr. Cox showed in standing up to Nixon.

“For those who wish to enter public service, remember that your duty runs deeper than the orders of any president,” Mr. Heymann wrote.

“Do not trade away your credibility and reputation for political favor or advancement,” he added. “Be loyal to the law, the values of the country, and have the courage to stand up when others threaten those ideals.”

Philip Benjamin Heymann was born on Oct. 30, 1932, in Pittsburgh. His father, Sidney, was an insurance salesman; his mother, Bessie (Kann) Heymann, was a community service volunteer.

Philip received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Yale in 1954, was a Fulbright scholar at the Sorbonne in Paris, then served two years in the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, based at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1960, he clerked at the Supreme Court for Associate Justice John M. Harlan, who was noted chiefly for his many dissents in cases that restricted civil liberties.

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