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The Supreme Court of Arkansas has ignored a formal complaint to consider disciplinary action against attorney Bill Clinton, but now it may be forced to take action.
In September 1998 the Southeastern Legal Foundation filed a complaint with the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct, the organization that has authority to disbar an attorney for that state. The actions of President Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit caused the complaint to be filed. There has been no action on the complaint. Matthew J. Glavin, SLF president, has decided to force the court to act.
The SLF has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus action to force the court to respond. A writ of mandamus, if granted, would be a court order to perform as required by law. Glavin believes the law clearly requires the Committee on Professional Conduct to consider the complaint and take some sort of action. A writ of mandamus would order the committee to proceed.
Glavin told WorldNetDaily that the rules and procedures set up by the Arkansas Supreme Court for members of the bar are clear and compel the committee to act in a timely way.
“The failure of the Arkansas legal ethics body to take the required steps to discipline attorney William Jefferson Clinton, in the face of a federal judge’s contempt citation, is tantamount to dereliction of duty,” said Glavin.
Federal district court judge Susan Webber Wright, the presiding judge in the Paula Jones case, issued a civil contempt citation for President Clinton’s misrepresentations under oath.
The citation issued in April, states in part: “It is not acceptable to employ deceptions and falsehoods in an attempt to obstruct the judicial process.”
The citation also mentioned an even higher standard expected of President Clinton because of his position. Wright added that the president’s “conduct in this case, coming as it did from a member of the bar and the chief law enforcement officer of this nation, was without justification and undermined the integrity of the judicial system.”
President Clinton’s attorneys did not appeal the civil contempt citation.
“With the filing of the mandamus action today, we hope to kick-start the necessary investigatory process. As officers of the court, lawyers swear to an oath to tell the truth, defend the Constitution, and live by the laws that govern us all. And when a lawyer becomes an elected official, that duty is raised to a higher level because public confidence in the legal system becomes an issue,” said L. Lynn Hogue, constitutional law professor and SLF legal counsel.
James Neal, executive director of the Committee on Professional Conduct told WorldNetDaily he cannot confirm nor deny the existence of any particular complaint before his committee.
Neal had previously told WorldNetDaily that, if such a complaint were presented to his committee, it would be held until all legal action against the president had been completed.
“We do not have a statute of limitation, so we’re not required to file in a certain period of time,” said Neal. Glavin disagrees and expects a writ of mandamus to be issued within days, which will force Neal to act.
The final disposition of the Paula Jones case has been completed, and Wright forwarded the contempt citation against President Clinton to Neal’s committee. State law requires an automatic formal complaint be instituted against an attorney who receives a civil contempt citation. Despite the law, no action has been taken in this case.
“When a lawyer violates his professional oath, lies before a court of law, and undermines public confidence in the rule of law, that lawyer should be punished,” Glavin said by phone.
The committee may take various disciplinary steps, including disbarment.
The Southeastern Legal Foundation is a public interest law firm founded in 1976. It is located in Atlanta.