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L. TODD KELLYThe Power Within

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First published by Fire Plume Press 2022Copyright © 2022 by L. Todd KellyAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may bereproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by anymeans, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording,scanning, or otherwise without written permission from thepublisher. It is illegal to copy this book, post it to a website, ordistribute it by any other means without permission.Publication Services by The Kruk CreativeLearn more about publishing your book today atthekrukcreative.comFirst editionThis book was professionally typeset on Reedsy.Find out more at

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ContentsPraise viForeword ixPrologue xiThe Closet 1Ego 10The Home 12Broken 15The Boy 16Addicted 26The Marine Officer 28Semper Fi 40The Law Student 43Legal Fiction 53The Baby Lawyer 55The Fewer The Prouder 64Brothers in Arms 66The Cuts 74The Awakening of a Civil Trial Lawyer 76Baby Lawyer 81Crawls With God 83Jesus Loves Me 85The Keystone Lawyer 87Pennsylvania 90The Lone Star Lawyer 91

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Texas Justice 102Who Moved My Cheese 105Ready 108The Kelly Law Firm 110The Spark 120The Ranch 124The Greedy Plaintiff 128Back to Business 131Loser 143Out of The Closet 145The Warrior 154The Phoenix 157Rise 162Walking 164I’m Sorry 167The Rise 169Goodbye My Friend 181The Reason 183How 187Dedication 189The Author 192About 195

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This book is for anyone who’s ever experienced pain on someoneelse’s behalf—especially trial lawyers (who do it daily).v

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PraiseAs a pastor, I am well acquainted with the concept of re-demption. In fact, I often have a front-row seat in seeinghow immeasurable grace can completely transform a person.That couldn’t be more true of Todd Kelly. His story is trulya redemption story. Whether on the battlefield of life or inthe battlefield of the courtroom, Todd has always given hisall but this book shows how our all is often not enough. Andit’s in those places where we can come face to face with ourhumanity, and face to face with our Redeemer. I pray that thisbook challenges you and I pray it’s a blessing to you, just asTodd has been in my life.— Joe ChampionSenior Pastor of Celebration Church in Austin, TX, Author ofConfronting CompromiseThe Power Within has exposed a truth in our culture about thedemons that can control us if we let them. Todd’s revelationabout the impact that those demons had on his law practice,his marriage, and his family is too often hidden and allowedto grow, unchecked, in society, and especially in the world ofthe trial lawyer. As a fellow trial lawyer, I have seen first-handthe destructive powers that Todd faced, and watched too manysuccumb to them. This book is a must-read for trial lawyers,vi

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new and old, but is also an in-depth exploration for so manyothers to enjoy. I commend this book to your collection withenthusiasm.— Mikal C. Watts, Esq.Trial LawyerThe Power Within is a must-read! It’s amazingly raw andauthentic, and Todd is extremely transparent throughout. Icould not put the book down once I started it. If you’ve ever feltpain, then this book is for you. Thirty years ago, I was feelingso much pain that I tried to end my own life after workingundercover for the FBI for three long years, wearing a wireevery day. This book will show you that most of us have somedark periods in our life but that there is HOPE at the end of thejourney. I wish that I had this book available 30 years ago. Itwould have made a significant difference. I highly recommendTodd Kelly’s book!— Mark Whitacre, PhD.Subject of the movie, The Informant, (Matt Damon played MarkWhitacre) Executive Director, t-factor, at Coca-Cola Consolidated,Inc.Todd Kelly is a gifted trial lawyer, a former Marine officer, aloving father and husband, and a dedicated follower of Christ.Todd’s life demonstrates learning from your mistakes at a levelI’ve never witnessed: he is now sharing his life story to impactand save the lives of others. Todd is living proof that the powerof God can transform any situation and I salute him for havingthe courage to write this book. Suicide has reached epidemicvii

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levels in our country. The Power Within is timely, needed, andcan change your life! I consider it a must-read for anyone.— Ken SchillerEntrepreneur, Malcom Baldrige Recipient & Malcom BaldrigeJudge, Suicide Crisis Hotline Volunteerviii

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ForewordAshes to ashes. Dust to dust. The hostage of Baghdad enduredunspeakable horrors, but a phoenix arose to help vulnerablewomen who were subjected to the most egregious violations.Over a six-year period, the phoenix died under flames ofcombustion, decomposed, and was born again to shoulder thebattle and pains for women suffering similar atrocities.I was nicknamed the “Hostage of Baghdad,” a title that no onewould envy.“In the deserts of Iraq, a war is going on against the enemies ofAmerica. In the heat and dust of the summer of 2005, a youngAmerican went to fight, not against Al-Qaeda, but for her ownsurvival. She became the “Hostage of Baghdad,” held againsther will by villains of the desert, thousands of miles away fromhome in Texas.”—Congressman Ted Poe, 2007When I decided to speak out against the atrocities I expe-rienced in Iraq, I crossed paths with Todd Kelly. Broken andafraid, I found an advocate who also became my trial lawyer.One that was fiercely compassionate and could internalize mywounds and trauma. He understood my desire to raise nationalawareness of the plight of American contractors victimizedwhile working abroad for government contractors. All I wantedwas for no other woman/wife/daughter/friend to experiencethe nightmare I called my life.He became the sword and shield. He put up a big fight—oneix

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which he felt was worth dying for. Arm in arm, we watched lawspassed in my honor, which he directly helped me slay for. Butultimately, Goliath proved to be too big of an opponent. Withstocks plummeting and bad press, the enemy was thirsty forblood and continued to victimize and try to turn us into pariahsin the media. With devastation greater than what we couldmentally conceptualize, it was hard to envision a real future. Hecouldn’t bear knowing the savage battle that I survived in Iraq,the miscarriage of justice in the courtroom, and subsequentrape in the media. Sometimes problems are greater than whatwe can handle ourselves. As my protector, it shattered him asit shattered me. However, even after losing the trial, his blood,sweat, and tears gave me closure by helping me make the worlda better place for future generations of women. Little did heknow, he was and will always be, my hero.Jamie Leigh Jonesx

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PrologueWhy in the world would anyone want to read my book? While Ican’t answer that question directly, I initially wrote The PowerWithin for two groups of people: Trial lawyers, and everyoneelse.To the Trial Lawyers: because we suffer—often in excruciatingsilence.•Weakness is unlikely to generate confidence with a publicwhere trial attorneys compete for clients. Clients needsomeone who is strong and confident to fight for themwhen they’ve been hurt and now face a well-funded oppo-nent who prepared for this fight before they ever causedthe harm, and that is willing to fight a war of attrition toforce people to accept less for their, often tragic, devastatinglosses.•The Trial Lawyer remains quiet in his suffering, to projectthis image of strength and confidence. This often putsthe problem into a pressure-cooker, causing the pressureto intensify until the attorney’s desperation to alleviateit results in extreme reactions: bouts of drunkenness,drug abuse, and suicide, which are all too common in ourprofession. Is this cause one worth dying for?•I write to you, my fellow Trial Lawyers, so that you knowxi

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that you are not alone, and so that you understand thatyou don’t have to let the pressure build that way. There isstrength in admitting your weaknesses.To The Public: because you simply hate Trial Lawyers, and Iwant to provide some insight into the people affected by yourhatred.•I believe that most of you hate us because corporations,particularly insurance corporations, have told you to hateus. These corporate entities have created a public narrativethat Trial Lawyers are evil and greedy. Rather than focus onthe fact that Trial Lawyers are the ones who actually holdthose very entities accountable when their actions harmindividuals, corporations and lobbying groups have spent alot of money to convince the public (ultimately, our juries)that we are the problem and they have done it well. Theyhave done it for a long time. Now, it seems that their self-serving rhetoric is simply accepted as a truth, regardlessof whether it’s supported by any factual background. Italways shocks me when a family member of one of theseentities asks me to help them. Really?! Against the wall youbuilt?•A few Trial Lawyers who advertise in front of their jetplanes or other symbols of opulence have fueled the“Greedy Trial Lawyer” image. These few “bad apples” havereally damaged the reputation by fostering a false narrativewhen one considers that the vast majority of attorneys donot live like this, but rather carry mortgages on modesthomes and pay student loans and make payments onaverage cars. These few prove to be a disservice to the restxii

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of the trial bar who has to stand in front of a jury and talkto them. Ego, here, has done damage to the profession. Butthese are not the majority of us. Most of us are truly goodpeople just trying to make a living by helping others, whoselives have suffered because of the actions of another.•There is a financial motive behind making you hate us, andcall us names like “ambulance chasers.” Follow the money.Who do you suppose benefits if you think less of us, orbelieve that every lawsuit is “frivolous?”It is in that fight that many of us lose ourselves, caught in abattle that many will, quite literally, die for. This is a battlethat almost killed me, and shaped the trajectory of my own life.That is why I must ask: Is it worth dying for—or can you findthe power within?xiii

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The ClosetLate June, 2011, Richmond, Texas.They’re gone…the woman I have betrayed so manytimes during our twenty-year marriage has taken ourdaughter, Meghan, shopping. That is what they do when shecomes home from college—spend money I can’t keep up with.The boys, too, are out for the day. My sons, Josh and Matthewlove to visit with their friends. Probably killing aliens orsharpening their skills at the latest version of World of Warcraft.Thank God they aren’t home. If they could see the effect thatthese demons in my head have had on their father today…The scent of single malt Scotch comes in wafts, together withthe bad breath of a man who hasn’t eaten in days.I’m in my “dream home”: the one I built to die in. I awake inthe same reclining chair I have been in for the past three days.I’ve been lifelessly existing in this recliner in front of the noisyscreen across the room mercilessly playing news recounts ofthe events that put me here.I have not shaved or even bathed since I took off my suitthree days ago. I stink of body odor and whatever food I havespilled on myself. I quit drinking when I finished the bottle of1

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THE POWER WITHINwhiskey that sits at the foot of this recliner. Some of that addsto the pungent aroma of my chosen spot. Perhaps it isn’t on thechair, but just on the gray terry cloth bathrobe that has adornedmy beaten frame for the past three days. The very sight of mewould have repulsed me a week ago. Today, I simply don’t care.I do find the strength to make it to the restroom. Or at least Ibelieve I do because at least that aroma isn’t sharing this chairwith me. But as soon as I can, I return to the chair, I stare at theTV, and I wallow—just as I have for the past three days.Then, there’s the debt. The Stillwater Asset-Backed Fund hassued me for the $12 Million that they say I owe them. This ismore than I could ever repay. I am financially ruined.I know I should go to work. I can’t face the people there.They were so hopeful for me. I was so sure I would win. I failed.This is what failure looks like.My thoughts occasionally drift to the only thing outside ofmy children that has me questioning the inevitable end to thismisery: Robbye. I wonder where she is. She stayed away fromthe trial that she had worked so hard on so as to avoid a scenewith Marysue. That would have been an even greater disaster.I hope she’s okay. I should call her. I can’t. I should tell her thatI still love her. I can’t bring myself to talk to another person.After all, I let her down, too.I sit in this seating area in the bedroom I share with Marysue,which now serves as my sanctuary unaware that the demonsin my head would soon come to offer me an escape from thismisery that I created.I should call Robbye. I can’t. Things will be better for her thisway.Any minute now and the demon’s presence will be in-escapable…2

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THE CLOSETIt will be better for everyone if I make this quick.However badly I don’t want anyone (especially Meghan,Joshua, or Matthew) to feel the pain of my departure, they’ll bebetter off for it. They realize there’s no escape from the burdenof past mistakes. They’ll move on knowing that I had doneeverything in my power to teach them that.Most importantly, they’ll learn never to make the samemistakes I have made that opened the door to those minionswho won’t stop gnawing at my soul.I shake my head, battling the pain. I can’t keep stalling, lestI draw their attention to my balking. But the movie keepsrewinding and looping in my mind all the same. News of mytrial loss is all over the major network news sources: CNN,NBC, Fox News, ABC, The New York Times, The Wall StreetJournal…and every other carnivorous syndicate known to theNorth American continent.It’s not just my name and my law firm’s reputation that’s beenimpugned. Jamie, the courageous woman I fought so hard for,and all of the women that she stood for by coming forward withher case—all of the women I was fighting so hard to protectin this public battle—no longer have a name and the sense ofjustice they deserve because of me, my pride, and my foolishness.I feel their sorrow. Every ounce of it.I feel their pain. Every minute of it.I feel their suffering. Its entire weight bearing down on myshoulders.I, alone, am responsible for the continuation of this pain…To say that I had failed myself, these women and everyonearound me would be a complete and total understatement. Thiswas no superficial loss, I had failed in a deep, penetrating levelknown only to those who risk everything for what they believe3

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THE POWER WITHINin and come up short. I have failed as a lawyer, as a husband, asa father, as a friend, as a man, and as a child of God.Speaking of God, I have ignored Him for so long that I amsure He is no longer around for me. I probably should get upand on with the task of ending this pain before I am denied anychance of sanctuary from this dark, inescapable, pit.The time, I think, has come.Alone in this house, I crawl across my bedroom floor andgather myself in a heap, cross-legged, on the floor of my walk-in master bedroom closet. My eyes fix on the object of mydesire: a light green pistol bag with leather handles. The lighttan carpet Marysue selected for this “dream home” proves tobe comfortable enough. I sit, among the array of black, gray,and blue business suits, hanging above the western shirts andstarched blue jeans hung meticulously in front of me. My side ofthe closet is a throw-back to a wall locker ready for inspectionduring The Basic School at Quantico.My attention returns to the demonic noises in my head. “Justopen the damned thing, Todd! Do it now! Do it quickly and get itover with! End your pain!”The 9mm Beretta M9 pistol sits just within my reach, safelystored in its holster, inside my range bag. I know there are tenhollow point rounds of ammo in the magazine, which werecreated to do one thing: kill a man. The magazine is sittingloosely in the handle, not locked in place. I don’t want to takethe chance that a through and through will leave my familyburdened with an invalid.Despite my training as a Marine, I have never wanted tohave firearms in the house where my children play—and wherethey sneak in at night after being out too late. The thought ofstanding over the lifeless body of a teenager who had snuck4

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THE CLOSETin late at night, unannounced, holding a pistol that was stillsmoking from the barrel, absolutely terrified me. Whether it’smy own child or one of their friends, that is more guilt thanI could ever face. The slight chance of a burglar is just notworth a child dying for. Perhaps this inevitable moment in thecloset is merely another reason that I just had never consciouslyconsidered—until now.One quick squeeze and the pain will end. The embarrassmentwill be over. The shame will be gone—at least for me. Thosewho watched my life unravel in such a public way will probablybelieve that I simply found my most recent trial loss too muchto take—and that my shame in losing so publicly was worthdying for.It’s a pretty pistol. I have maintained it meticulously.“Take it out!” the demons scream in my head.In obedience to the demons’ demands, I take it out of the bagand draw it from the black canvas shoulder holster in which itrests. It smells of CLR and carbon, remnants of lessons learnedas a Marine—I take care of my weapons. I take in that smell asif a familiar friend. This weapon has always fit so well in myhand.I have become all too comfortable with her curves.The Beretta M9 is the only pistol that I felt comfortablepurchasing when my son, Josh, announced, at 21 years of age,that he was going to purchase a pistol, and asked his MarineVeteran father to help him choose which one he should buy.The first part of his statement was not a question, so I agreedto his actual request for help, and found my own pistol on thetrip to the sporting goods store.I bought this “nine” with the thought that shooting wouldbe something I could do with Josh—to teach him since I had5

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THE POWER WITHINnever allowed firearms in the house when he was young. Thefeared image of that dead child had been strong and vivid. Thecomfort that the protection that a firearm affords has simplynever been worth a child dying for.She makes it a point to remind me of our first date, at therange, with my sons. I have sure had some quality time withJosh and Matthew at the range. Meghan, too—though it’s notreally her thing. Josh loves it, and I think Matthew just lovesto be part of the outings. I can see Josh holding his own 9mmweapon down range as I hover over him, teaching him aboutsight alignment and sight picture. I recall the pride of bothboys as they pulled back their first targets with shots in the“kill zone” of those paper bad guys. Those photographs weretreasures. Those memories, even more so. We liked to shootmy old British 303, too, but it was a difficult rifle to master.I release the magazine to check the load. Yep, the hollowpoints are still in there – ten of them, so as not to tax thespring in the magazine too much. I slide the magazine home:locked and loaded. My weapon stands ready for a home invader,nervous misses and all. It only takes one of these to protect ahome—or end a life.I am well-trained on this one. “Squeeze. Don’t Pull.” I canhear my weapons instructor’s voice echo in my head, recallingmy time in the Corps. We were taught how to squeeze thetrigger, and how to reload fast. I guess that second part nowproves irrelevant.This one, I can almost use in my sleep—thus the fear and theimage that prevented her purchase for so long.I half smile as I imagine all of the pain, embarrassment, andshame immediately disappearing in a puff of smoke. All ofthe guilt—gone! All of the suffering—relieved! I can already6

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THE CLOSETimagine the looks on their faces when they learn about whathappened to me. Just a cliche.I place my weapon of choice into my mouth. The Demonicvoices engage, in soothing almost maternal tones.Will anyone even care?Won’t this be better?I’m insured for more than I’m worth, anyway!Trial Lawyers do this all the time—I’ll just be another sad statistic,right?My family could use the money. God knows I haven’t been able toprovide it.Why did I think I was so special? Why did I think that the world’slargest military contractor couldn’t find a way to beat me (even if Iknew they would spare no expense, and try it without scruples)?Why do I care so much?Are you there, God? I try to interrupt…the demonic toneschange:He’s not listening to you, Todd, you turned your back on Him yearsago. Why do you call upon Him now?Just pull the damned trigger. End it.You are a terrible lawyer! You are all hype.The whole world just watched you publicly eat it against Hallibur-ton’s lawyers. Who’s laughing now!?You knew they were better than you the whole time!You know she was raped. You know what they did to her…and youjust let them get away with it.”Now everyone sees you for what you are. Fraud. You just aren’tthat good!Your marriage is a fraud, too. Your wife doesn’t trust you—you’vebetrayed that too many times to count. All you’re good for now iswhat you can bring home to her. And now, you can’t bring home a7

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THE POWER WITHINdamned thing.You are, quite literally, worth more dead.Your kids are embarrassed by you: even their friends know whatyou are.You spend way too much time at work or the dojo, anyway.You’re a cheater. Everyone knows you’ve been unfaithful to yourwife!Your parents are so ashamed of you! They used to be so proud.You are a failure. Pull the trigger!A deep shiver of fear moves within me as if a hand, frigid andcold, but invisible presses through my shoulder and forces mymuscles to engage, clenching the pistol grip and trigger, nearlyengaging the firing pin.No, that is an eternal sentence in Hell! I plead as I try toremember my Savior.What about Robbye?!” I almost beg.There is no way you can ever be with her. Too many obstacles.You are just going to be miserable if you can’t be with her anyway,right?!How can you go on without her in your life now?Did you learn anything at the ranch? Reverse roles.How will Joshua and Matthew feel when they find me? Who’sgonna clean up the mess that a hollow point will make of my brain?Will that image haunt their memories?Hell, you don’t even remember Lannie, and you have wonderedabout his death your whole life!You bear his name—perhaps this is just hereditary.What kind of an example is this for Meghan? I told her to neverquit. Now, look what she’ll see: Quitter!What will this do to the kids who know me—who might still loveme?! I am gaining resolve.8

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THE CLOSETPerhaps they love you. They do not respect you! You will failyour own daughter just like you did those other girls! The demonsretort!Leadership—by example! Is this the example I want my childrento emulate?Leadership?! You just failed Marine! You failed every rape victimthat you thought you could help! You have done more harm thangood! Be a man—pull the trigger! They urge.No—be a man, and face my mess. I cry.“But what about Robbye?!”“Another woman?” the demons mock. “You know full well you’llonly hurt her as you’ve hurt your wife and every other woman you’vewooed. Do her a favor and pull the damned trigger, Todd! End thisall now!” they demand, more urgent.The weight of many demons, as invisible as they may be,now completely crushing down on my shoulders. ‘PULL THETRIGGER, TODD! PULL IT NOW!”My mind races, frantically, as unbearable pressure and heatengulf my whole body.My finger, trembling, closes itself tighter on the trigger…The fight rages inside my head for about forty-five agonizingminutes. Then, I close my eyes…9

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EgoMy ego is too large, you say.I now think that you’re right.My belief that it had been destroyedCould not explain my plight.If your assessment were untrueThen your words would have no might.And every time you put me downI wouldn’t feel the slight.You’ve made me reassess my viewOf who I truly am.And though it clearly evades youMy confidence is a sham.Ego, yes, I have one stillDespite its beaten, ragged, shell.And judge me, oh I know you will—But you have not lived in my Hell.So when you call me out next timeFor all the world to see—10

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EGOThis low-life piece of filthy slime,You hurt the friend in me.I came to you a broken manWhose ego suffered most.Before I lost it by my handI was far too quick to boast.I boasted of success and fameAnd all the things I’d done.For I knew how to play this gameBut had forgot the One.Perhaps that’s why your words won’t leave:Why should I even careIf it’s to His Love that I cleave?Perhaps my ego’s still in there?So thanks, I guess, for calling outThis raging flaw in me.And making sure it really hurtSo everyone can see.The truth has reared its nasty head:Ego’s not gone, it seems.Whether working late or froze in dread,It made nightmares out of dreams.11

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The HomeThis house was the culmination of the dreams forgedbetween my wife, Marysue, and I back when I was stillin the Marine Corps and the kids were still riding bikeswith training wheels. Well, two of them were—Matthew wasstill in diapers back then. We had dreamed of a life in this homeand had placed our hope in this physical space that, in the end,it simply did not hold.Marysue had changed. I had, too. Certainly, my changedbehavior and multiple indiscretions had led to the changesin how she treated me. Perhaps the opposite was also true.Perhaps it was a combination. Neither of us really addressedthe cause and effect of where we had fallen in such a way as tohave a firm handle on the answer to that question. What wascertain is that I grew to be miserable in the marriage.My kids, however, were another story. I adored them. Alwayshad. Marysue did, too. She was a good mother to them. I was asgood a father as I could be, given that I lived a “secret” life. But,I always loved them more than I loved my own life. Marysuehad that to hold over me too. How many times did she have toremind me that she never cheated? I knew!The twins, Joshua and Meghan, were truly miracle babies.They had been born at 27 weeks gestation, weighing in at less12

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THE HOMEthan two pounds each. Marysue and I spent several months inthe NICU at Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaiipraying for their lives. I recall holding these too small childrenand thinking that they were the most beautiful things I hadever seen. I understood, for the first time, a father’s love forhis children. A love that was worth any sacrifice. I would havefreely given my life to save theirs. I made that offer in prayeroften in those first, difficult, months.Their early lives, after they got out of that scary place, hadbeen spent in and out of medical appointments, and eatingwhatever we could get them to actually take. We just neededthem to grow, and we were not above feeding them candy,pizza, cake, ice cream, or anything else that would add caloricintake. But as I sat in my misery at the home in Richmond,they were both in college. Both had graduated high school withhigh grades, and both were athletic. Meghan—a high schooland competitive cheerleader. Josh—a black belt in Zen Do-KaiKarate.Matthew had been born early, too—all of three weeks. Hisbirth weight, a whopping six pounds, five ounces, earned himthe moniker “chunk.” That would wear off quickly, as he wasthin and fit as a kid. Although he started Karate with his brotherand me, he had a love for soccer that took him out of the dojo.Matthew was quiet and focused on video games. I could barelyget him out of the house unless it was to ride in his golf cart(made to look like an all-terrain tactical vehicle) and shootairsoft guns at his brother and a few friends.These kids were the reason I kept coming home. They werethe driving force behind me to this point. They were the reasonI kept pushing on. There had never been any doubt that I lovedthem. I had been strict with them, and occasionally short-13

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THE POWER WITHINtempered, but my love was without question. They lookedup to me—or they did before the affairs. But once they knewthe truth about those…Marysue had been kind to me during my miserable days afterthe Jones trial. She brought me my occasional cup of coffee,and whatever food she had prepared for the kids to keep mealive when I didn’t want to eat. She offered to sit with me, butI didn’t want that. I didn’t want anything except to replay thetrial that I “should have won” over and over again. That, and Iwanted out of the life I once thought I wanted. I wished thatshe wasn’t being kind. I didn’t want to be with her anymore.I had thought she understood that. Why did she hang on? Ididn’t want to be cruel to her, but I didn’t want this marriage.My kids, as kids do, were enjoying their summer off. Joshand Meghan were both home from college. Meghan spent mostof her time with her high school best friend, Katelyn. Joshand Matthew were usually upstairs playing one video gameor another which I had always been too busy to learn how toplay with them. Thank God they had each other. I hated thosegames, but at least they gave the boys a connection. I wishedthey would spend some time outside—maybe throw a damnedbaseball! I knew that I should have gotten up to go be withthem more often—that they wouldn’t be home forever. I justcouldn’t. I could barely look at them, knowing that they didn’tfeel the same about me anymore.Despite it all, I was—alone.14

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BrokenBroken homes and broken spirit,I knew, but didn’t want to hear it.The way to mend the hearts unseen.The pain they cause, acute and keen.I painted a rosy picture ofA house shrouded in human love.I failed to open up my heartTo the only One who could even startTo heal the brokenness inside.But I was happy. No, I lied.I was less than malcontent.I forgot that love was Heaven sent.I didn’t have to be alone,If only I would just atone.Admit my sin, accept the giftInstead, alone I sit, adrift15

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The BoyI’m the eldest of two boys, raised in a loving home by mybiological mother and the only father I’ve ever known.Some would refer to Jim Kelly as my “step-father” or my“adoptive father.” That has never been his role. He was simplymy Daddy—until I became too “adult” to call him that in public.Now, he’s my Dad, unless we’re alone.My father is a man of unyielding integrity, who taught mybrother and me that honesty is not the “best policy,” but ratherthe only one. He was born to a poor family just outside ofHouston, Texas, and was able to build himself up to becomea small business owner in the computer technology field byfirst joining the Navy, and by applying himself aggressively toeach job he took thereafter. He demonstrates work ethic, anddedication. More than anything else, my father has shown uswhat loyalty to family looks like. His love for my mother is stilla shining example that all should strive for in marriage.Similarly, though biologically Jim Kelly’s son, Reagan hasnever been my “half-brother.” He is simply my brother (or “mylittle sister” when I am teasing him—as we do). Reagan is fouryears younger than I am and grew up with me watching overhim—not that he needed it. As we have aged, however, we havesimply become friends and brothers. He has now had my back16

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THE BOYas many times as I have his.My mother, Linda, is a strong figure, who taught Reagan andme at an early age about the strength of women while remainingtender in her love toward us. Though she gave birth to me at theage of 16, her wisdom was always far beyond her tender years,and she has been a constant pillar of strength in our family.Along with my Dad, she taught us the value of family, and letus draw strength from the stability of the love that we share.She managed the “Precious Jewels” departments of a numberof high-end stores until she retired from Neiman Marcus afteryears of dedicated service. I often reflect on how thankful I amthat she was my mother, and not my boss.Lannie Ross Cross was my biological father. I was barely ayear old when he died, so I have no memory of him. Jim Kelly istruly my Dad. Two competing stories surround Lannie Cross’death: He was either killed by local police officers connectedto organized crime, after they beat him too badly for mouthingoff, or he killed himself by hanging. These stories are equallyconvincing from family members I love and trust. I wonderabout what truly took his life. That curiosity rears its headperiodically.My grandmother, Jewel Cross, and my grandfather, JethroCross, (Lannie’s parents) were Christians who instilled in me acuriosity about Jesus at an early age during my annual two-weeksummer vacations with them in Camden, Arkansas. These weresimple, God-loving people who loved me unconditionally—ifnot exceptionally—as I seemed to serve as a stand-in for theirson, who died too young, even though they had eight otherliving children. This special love stayed be with me until theirdeaths in 1989. Though I have no memory of Lannie Cross atall, what I know of him is through the stories that they would17

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THE POWER WITHINtell me around a table filled with iced tea, dominoes, and apalpable love for God and family virtually every night that Ispent with them.A number of my relatives on the “Cross side” were (and are)pastors, including an uncle and a first cousin. I was alwaysawed by that connection with our Father but did not feel thatparticular call in my life.My father (Jim) worked for Bell Helicopter Internationalduring the reign of the Shah Reza Pahlavi while I was inelementary school. Mid-way through my fourth grade year, myfamily arrived in Isfahan, Iran, where I would spend four of mymost formative years in this community with Persian neighbors.I do not return home to my native, Texas, until halfway throughthe eighth grade.My childhood experience in a third-world country providedme with an appreciation of the United States at a very earlyage. The simple freedoms that we take for granted were notpresent, even in pre-Ayatollah Iran. Women walked behindtheir husbands to show their “place” in society. Their facesand heads were covered with chadors so as not to “tempt othermen.” Food was different, to say the least. Dairy was not aswell pasteurized, and cream at the top of the milk bottle wassomething I had to learn to appreciate. My parents boiled ourdrinking water before we drank it to avoid diseases that ourAmerican bodies were not immune to. Peanut butter came froma blender of fresh peanuts—not a jar of Jif. Snickers candy—thatwas a rare treat, indeed.The American School of Isfahan that I attended held aneclectic group of kids from all over the United States as well asother ex-patriots, and even a few Iranian children who wereborn to the wealthy, connected group of military leaders and18

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THE BOYroyalty in this third-world nation. They all spoke English wellenough to attend. These people, while they practiced a differentreligion from most that I know, were really very warm, andinviting. These people were my introduction to Islam.It was during a summer in Iran, while my parents werevacationing in Greece, that some family friends took me andReagan to a makeshift church that had been planted in ourelementary school cafeteria. Family friends, Howard and JuneBrook, attended services regularly and took us to church withtheir family that Sunday. Though I was only a child in the fifthgrade, I understood clearly when I heard God’s call upon myheart for the first time. I answered my first altar call whenthe pastor asked if I wanted salvation. I felt His presence as Iwalked to the front of the church and received Jesus into myheart. I was overwhelmed by His presence in my body.I was Baptized two weeks later in a church-wide service atone of the rivers flowing into the Caspian Sea, making my loveof Christ and acceptance of Him as my Lord and Savior publicfor all in attendance that day.I learned about the salvation available to all mankind thatJesus somehow found worth dying for.With child-like faith, I understood that Jesus suffered anexcruciating and humiliating death that He did not deserve,as payment for my sin—before I even committed it. I also knewthat He was resurrected from death. I knew that He was stillalive—I felt Him. I knew that He would return. I was saved.Mom and Dad did not regularly attend church services,and my education regarding God and Biblical theology wassporadic, at best.Despite our religious and cultural differences, we generallyfelt safe in Isfahan until about 1978 when the Shah was19

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THE POWER WITHINoverthrown by Ayatollah Khomeini and retreated into exile.My dad knew we had to leave once we started seeing “YankeeGo Home” painted on the side of the houses of fellow Americans.Being from Texas, I recall thinking: I’m no “Yankee!” I’m fromTexas. When my family returned to my hometown of Arlington,Texas, I was about halfway through the eighth grade.Junior high school kids are harsh, and I had been out ofthe country (and their lives) for the better part of four years.I had no place in this group. I had to fight my way intoacceptance—quite literally. As a “new” kid from a “weird”country with an unfortunately bad case of acne—at a timebefore medications were developed well enough to effectivelydeal with that embarrassment, girls were not exactly beatingdown my doors, either. This general lack of acceptance by thefairer sex would become a yardstick that I used to measure myself-worth for many years.This weakness would become Satan’s greatest weapon againstmy soul in my personal struggle to remain faithful to Jesus formuch of my life after these formative struggles.If girls give me attention, then I must be worthy.As girls were not really happening in my life, I focused on myBoy Scout progress. I enjoyed the camping and the leadershipskills that I was learning. Fortunately, my Scoutmasters weretruly good men and not the type that would later give scoutingsuch a bad name by giving in to their own demons andvictimizing so many other boys.I was accepted into an elite group of Scouts called the Orderof the Arrow, and eventually attained the rank of Eagle Scout.I was proud of these accomplishments as I stood in front offamily and friends to be awarded my Eagle Scout badge at myEagle Court of Honor.20

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THE BOYI played tight end for the James Bowie High School Volun-teers, a District 5A football team that won a lot more than welost. I actively concealed my involvement with the Boy Scoutsof America, however. It was somehow embarrassing in thiscrowd of athletes whose respect I desperately coveted. Theteam was great. I was perhaps slightly above average, but didbring a lot of heart to the game—and normally left a lot ofblood on the field—albeit mostly my own…Fortunately for myeconomic future, my grades were much better than my skills onthe field and I would not have to rely upon my prowess underthe Friday night lights to make ends meet.One of my strong-suits was writing. Though I didn’t knowwhy, I actually enjoyed it. Like my Eagle Scout award, this partof my life was not “cool” so I hid this attribute from my peers,too. I thought I would like to be an attorney someday. PerryMason and Matlock television shows and other representationsthat glorified the profession of law filled my mind with thisimage of a “noble profession” for someone who wants to helpothers.I did manage to attract one girl in high school. Carolyn wasmy first love, and she did a lot to boost my confidence. What Ididn’t realize yet was that I was judging my own self-worth onhow well she perceived me. We believed, at the ripe old age of16, that we were, to each other, worth dying for. One Fridaynight, I came particularly close to fulfilling that call. Carolynloved everything cowboy, so naturally I wanted to show her justhow “cowboy” I could be. Sitting atop a two-thousand-poundbull seemed like a great idea from afar. I stretched my toesaround the giant animal as far as they could reach. Leatherglove on my left hand held tight to the rigging that my friendshad cinched down for me to hold on to.21

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THE POWER WITHIN“Just eight seconds, Todd, then jump to the side and run. Theclowns will take it from there.”I raised my right hand—signaling to the chute operator that Iwas ready. I wasn’t.As the bull jumped to his left, I followed him for that firstmove. This instilled in me a fleeting sense of confidence. I’vegot this.When he turned back toward his right—okay, when hewhipped back to the right, I quickly discovered that my buddy’sskills at cinching down the rigging needed some work. Theloose rigging slipped on the mammoth animal as I started toslide off his left side. My grip, more of fear than athletic ability,kept me connected to the bull—if only loosely.Now, I’m not sure how many real cowboys out there can boastof having completed an eight-second ride on the undersideof a bucking bull. I can. It turns out that getting off theride while trying to dodge the hooves of a bucking bull isquite the challenge—particularly when you are dangling fromunderneath the angry animal when you do it.If I timed it just right…My timing was not right. The bull’s hoof tore into myleft abdomen as he dropped down for one more move. Theexcruciating pain was immediately overcome by fear as theangry animal turned to come back.The clowns yelled at me, “RUN!”They didn’t have to yell twice. Adrenaline is a superpowerand I was able to clear the gate into the stands where Carolynsat, worried.Carolyn was somehow impressed by the “manliness” of thisevent. I accepted her adulation. The wounds healed.I would do that again for the pay-off, I thought.22

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THE BOYCarolyn struggled with English Literature. I was in an honorsclass during the same class period.I cannot let her fail.I would do anything to help her.Look at what she’s done for me.I dropped my honor’s English to take English with Carolyn.That way I would be able to work on the same assignmentswith her and could tutor her that way. It worked. She did well.We dated for the rest of high school.I graduated high school in 1983 – 20thin a class of 640. I oftenwonder where I would have ended up if I hadn’t dropped honorsEnglish. I moved to Austin, Texas to attend the University ofTexas. I was still a good student—thankfully—because I didwhat too many freshman students at UT do. I drank— a lot. Iwas not walking in God’s will, and had almost forgotten thatI gave my life to Him. 6thStreet was my favorite weekendlocation. My acne was cleared up and I’d found a long-desired form of entertainment, and perceived self-worth, inthe opposite sex. Because I didn’t look for my fulfillment fromGod, I received a substitute in the bedroom. But, as it does, thatmomentary thrill just left me seeking more—the satisfactionserved as only a temporary salve on my broken ego. As anydrug addict will tell you, the momentary high is too addictiveto stop—even when you know the damage you are doing.I continued to attend worship services on rare occasions,or when I visited my grandparents in Arkansas during thesummertime breaks throughout my college years.In 1985, I met Debbie, a sorority girl who was a couple ofyears my senior. She introduced herself by making a sexuallyexplicit comment as she poured me a beer from a keg at afraternity party I had no business attending. Well, no legitimate23

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THE POWER WITHINreason anyway, as I was not in the fraternity. Debbie and Istarted talking.Debbie was a pretty, dark-haired girl who clearly knew howto work a room full of people. She was generally likable, andsorority trained to carry a conversation. She decided that myboots and western shirts were not the proper look for hersignificant other to wear. So I changed that without protest.Boat shoes and polo shirts took over my daily wear. Anythingfor the affection of a girl!We had been dating ever since that first meeting at the keg,and started talking about “forever.” I was not through withcollege, so I decided to drop out and join the local police forceso that I could do what I believed I was supposed to as a marriedman. When I told my parents about my grand plan, they wantedno part of it.So, my dad took me to a Navy recruiter to see about enlistingin the Navy, as he had done when he left home at the age of 17.This Navy recruiter, however, must have met his quota for thenext decade! Despite an ASVAB score that would guarantee myacceptance, and my eagerness to enlist and move on with mylife (and Debbie), the man directed me back to UT and to theROTC program there.Fine! I’ll finish school. At least I now have a plan.That summer I attended the Naval Science Institute (NSI) inNewport, Rhode Island, where I met my first Marine CorpsGunnery Sergeant. This experience, for those who have nothad the pleasure, is not something I can describe in words. Thebest I can do is: Intense. The hair was cut to a “high and tight.”That was only the first change.I survived NSI and returned to the University of TexasDuring my senior year of college, I went through Lutheran24

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THE BOYCatechism classes and joined the Lutheran church. I did that(like so many other things in my life) for a girl (Debbie)—ratherthan for Jesus. I was quickly offended by the “closed commu-nion,” as that seemed the antithesis of what I thought Jesuspreached. I attended for a time, but eventually left.My remaining educational experience at UT was filled with acontinuation of my walk in sin with as many women as I couldcoerce into my bedroom. My faithfulness to Debbie was lessthan complete. I graduated with a degree in journalism in 1987,and as soon as I completed Officer Candidate’s School, I earneda commission as a Marine Corps Officer.Now, I think, I am a man.25

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The AuthorLawyer by day, author by night, L. Todd Kelly began his practicein the law as a U.S. Marine, achieving the rank of Major.Todd left the Corps to enter private practice in ’98, where herepresented asbestos exposure victims, birth injury victims, andsurvivors of nursing home abuse.In 2006, Todd opened The Kelly Law Firm, in Houston,where he took on the famed Jamie Leigh Jones’ sexual assaultcase against the world’s largest private military contractors,Halliburton and Kellogg, Brown & Root. He was featuredon 20/20, The Rachel Maddow Show, The New York Times,Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC, FOX, and was highlighted inthe Sundance Film Festival and HBO documentary film, HotCoffee.In 2009, Todd appeared in front of committees of the UnitedStates Congress and spoke on the Fairness in Arbitration Act inan effort to eliminate mandatory, binding, pre-dispute, secretarbitration provisions that are found in consumer products andother contracts. Todd was consulted by Senator Al Franken,who sponsored an amendment to the Senate Appropriationsbill which led to the abolition of forced arbitration for victimsof sexual assault by most military contractors.Since that time, Todd has gone on to be inducted into theTexas Lawyer Hall of Fame following a seventeen-million-dollar verdict and has been interviewed on various legal topics192

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THE AUTHORby numerous national and local news programs, including CBS’Insider Edition, receiving the honorary title of “Super Lawyer”and numerous other awards for his legal skills and literaryfinesse.Todd is also married to his loving wife, Robbye. Together theyhave a daughter, Selby Jewel, and they spend time almost weeklywith Todd’s other children, Joshua, Meghan, and Matthew.Most importantly in his life, Todd is a child of a loving,forgiving God!193

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THE POWER WITHINBack at Work: Austin, Texas—2021194

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AboutCrushed by the weight of a major public trial loss, nationally-known and acclaimed trial lawyer, L. Todd Kelly, sits captivein a closet with a gun in his mouth, wondering whether ornot his life is even worth living. Deep down, he knows hislust for power, sex, and fame brought him to this day—not tomention the twelve million dollar debt and divorce loomingover his head. To escape, he must battle his demons and findthe strength to take another breath and choose to live. Butwill he ever regain his reputation, family’s trust, or any ounceof self-respect? The Power Within explores one man’s journeythrough sin, marital failure, public loss, and redemption—andwill leave you gripped with the inescapable truth about whattrue power really is.195

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