President Bill Clinton could be barred from practicing law in
Arkansas as a consequence of lying in the Paula Jones sexual harassment
case if an Arkansas circuit court agrees with a recommendation filed
Monday by the Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct.
Given the committee’s history, the odds are not in the president’s
favor. A check of committee’s records going back to 1990 by the
Southeastern Legal Foundation revealed that every disbarment referral to
a circuit court has ended in disbarment for the attorney involved.
“The court has always agreed with the recommendation of the
committee,” Arkansas attorney L. Lynn Hogue told WorldNetDaily. Hogue
represents Southeastern Legal Foundation and filed the original
complaint against Clinton resulting in the recent decision that he
should lose his license to practice law.
Hogue said the remaining portion of the disbarment process is largely
procedural. “The purpose of the court proceeding is to assure that
there’s adequate due process,” he explained.
Objecting to the committee’s action, Clinton Attorney David Kendall
said in a prepared statement, “This recommendation is wrong and clearly
contradicted by precedent,” adding, “We will vigorously dispute it in a
court of law.”
Kendall claims that there are cases in Arkansas of attorneys who lied
and were not disbarred and told the press that he will use those cases
to show that Clinton has received too harsh a punishment.
Only the second U.S. president to be impeached, Clinton has now
become the first to face disbarment proceedings while still in office.
“He has the president of the United States,” said Hogue of Kendall’s
client, “who’s in a unique position to cause serious harm to the
profession (of law) and to the system of justice by that kind of
misconduct.” Hogue added that delay tactics should not be tolerated.
“Kendall’s ready to go to court tomorrow. He doesn’t need any time.
He doesn’t need anything to pull his case together,” said Hogue. Kendall
has already presented a response to Neal’s committee giving his defense
for Clinton’s actions. Hogue said there is nothing new to add.
The case now goes to the Pulaski County Circuit Court. If the judge
there agrees with the committee and decides Clinton should be disbarred
for his dishonesty, Clinton will be given a chance to appeal the case
directly to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Hogue said it is unlikely Kendall will succeed if he attempts any
tactics to delay the process because the Arkansas Supreme Court has
already ordered that this case be moved along quickly and without delay.
“This case is unique in that it is driven by the writ of mandamus,”
Committee executive director James A. Neal had placed the complaint
on hold for 17 months with no action taken. Hogue went directly to the
Arkansas Supreme Court, which sent an historic writ of mandamus, a
direct order, demanding that Neal take action on the complaint.
“The circuit court is laboring under the same mandate that the
Supreme Court Committee is laboring under, and that is the December 1999
ruling, stating that they must proceed in a speedy and timely way with
these proceedings,” confirmed Todd G. Young, spokesman for the
Southeastern Legal Foundation.
Neal was heavily criticized for his efforts to prevent the complaint
from being considered by the committee.
Simultaneous with the announcement of the disbarment finding of the
committee, Neal announced that he will resign his position at the end of
Committee chairman Kenneth Reeves spoke in defense of Neal saying
that he has served well for over 10 years, and he cannot continue in his
position because there are no retirement benefits.
“The entire sad episode — the first time in American history in
which a sitting president faced disciplinary proceedings — nevertheless
confirms that attorney self-governance does have validity. We as a
people and those in the legal profession must never let down our guard
in the zealous defense of the integrity of the judicial system and those
who serve in it, and we take this case as a reminder of that burden,”
said Matthew Glavin, president of Southeastern Legal Foundation.
When the case goes before the circuit court, the staff attorneys for
the committee will act as prosecutors and Kendall will defend Clinton.
Because of his resignation, Neal will not be a part of the procedure.