President Clinton admits what he did was wrong when he lied 10 times in his testimony for the Paula Jones case, but, in his response to a disbarment initiative in Arkansas, he claims it was not wrong enough for him to face legal sanctions.
All the final papers have been filed, and now the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct must decide whether or not Clinton should be stripped of his license to practice law. A final decision is expected no later than May 19, but it could come sooner.
The Southeastern Legal Foundation filed its final rebuttal Friday, in answer to Clinton’s recent response to the foundation’s ethics complaints against him. The group held a news conference to present its rebuttal to the public yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington.
“The final step in this long process has been taken as we filed our last papers in the effort to hold attorney William Jefferson Clinton, Esq. accountable for his unethical actions that we believe violated the Arkansas Rules of Conduct,” said the foundation’s president Matthew J. Glavin.
“Now it is time for the committee to carefully review all the facts of this case and render their verdict. They will decide if Bill Clinton, a man who was found in contempt of court by a federal judge and fined $90,000, has forfeited his right to be a lawyer. We anxiously await their answer,” said Glavin.
Clinton has kept his response, filed with the committee April 21, from the press and the public. Glavin, who described the response as “pathetic,” challenged Clinton to make it public.
“Two-hundred and seventy million Americans deserve to know the facts in this case and they need to know that lawyers who lie, no matter their power or influence, will not get a free pass from other lawyers,” said Glavin this morning. “We call on the president to waive his privilege on his filings and let the American people see how the rule of law is applied to those in the legal profession.”
The initial complaint was filed Sept. 15, 1998, citing Clinton for numerous violations of the Arkansas court rules during the Paula Jones, case and the subsequent federal investigation. The committee’s executive director, James Neal, was ordered by the Arkansas Supreme Court to take action on the complaint after he failed to do so for 17 months.
Neal sent the complaint to Clinton, who then filed his response to the charges on April 21. The rebuttal from the foundation now completes the process, placing the case directly in the hands of the committee to decide if Clinton deserves to be disbarred. Glavin says there is no other possible action the committee can take. “By his conduct, the president has separated himself from the rule of law and the rules governing the legal profession demanded of a lawyer in public office,'” said Glavin as he quoted from the rebuttal. He insisted that “only disbarment will adequately reflect the consequences which his behavior demands.”
He said it is an established fact that Clinton lied under oath at least 10 times in the Paula Jones case, resulting in the obstruction of justice. Facts that were not disputed by Clinton when he was charged with contempt of court and fined $90,000 in federal court by Judge Susan Webber Wright.
“The facts are not in dispute,” Glavin told WorldNetDaily. “The president lied under oath and obstructed justice, was held in contempt by a federal court judge, and did not appeal that decision – all of which run counter to the most basic rules required of those who hold law licenses and the nation’s judicial system in their hands,” said Glavin.
The Arkansas attorney who filed the complaint for the foundation said Clinton is an “embarrassment” to the legal profession. L. Lynn Hogue is now a law professor at Georgia State University, where he teaches his students that Clinton is not the example they should follow.
Clinton tried to argue in his response that he did not lie, and that his testimony was not “false,” but that it was “misleading.” Clinton’s efforts to redefine words and justify his actions based on those definitions have become well known and often criticized.
Rep. Bob Barr, R- Georgia, spoke to WorldNetDaily and described Clinton as being like “Bizarro Superman,” because in that particular series of comic books everything was the opposite of what it was in the real world. He was responding to a comment Clinton made that being impeached was an “honor” because it gave him the chance to “defend the Constitution.”
“Only in that bizarro world could you say with a straight face that being impeached was an honor,” Barr told WorldNetDaily.
“There can be no dispute about whether President Clinton misled the court, his aides, or the public. President Clinton flatly admits that he misled us all, court and public alike. He admitted it on national television and he admitted it, repeatedly, in his response to this committee’s formal complaints. Even his own lawyers characterized his testimony as ‘evasive, incomplete, [and] misleading,'” said Hogue in his rebuttal to Clinton’s response.
“What the president did was wrong,” states Clinton’s response to the charges, as quoted in Hogue’s rebuttal. “[T]he simple moral truth [is] that his behavior in this matter was wrong; … He misled his wife, his friends and our Nation about the nature of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky.”
Hogue says this admission, similar admissions throughout the rebuttal, public admissions, the finding of contempt by the federal court all show there is no dispute of the facts of the claims by Hogue.
“He also acknowledges the pain and harm this conduct caused to him, his family and those friends and associates in his immediate personal circle. What goes unacknowledged is the tremendous damage that his misconduct has caused to the courts and legal profession in Arkansas and throughout the country. It is that consequence of the president’s misconduct that he must particularly answer for before this committee. As a public official, the president has greater obligations to promote justice and tell the truth,” stated Hogue in his rebuttal.
He also pointed out to the committee that Clinton has tried to get the committee members to reconsider the questions already determined by Wright in her finding of contempt – findings which Clinton did not appeal when he had the chance to do so.
“The record demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the president responded to plaintiffs questions by giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process,” said Wright in her order issued April 12, 1999. “Although there are a number of aspects of the president’s conduct in this case that might be characterized as contemptuous, the Court addresses at this time only those matters which no reasonable person would seriously dispute were in violation of this court’s discovery orders and which do not require a hearing, namely the president’s sworn statements concerning whether he and Ms. Lewinsky had ever been alone together and whether he had ever engaged in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky.” The committee should not reconsider issues already established in federal court, according to Hogue. Clinton argues in his response to the committee that he should not be “prejudged.”
Hogue said in his rebuttal that Clinton has “had his day in court and refused the ordinary paths of legal review available to him.” He said the committee does not need to decide if Clinton is guilty or not. The only task for the committee is to determine what sanctions should be brought against him.
The ABA “Model Rules of Professional Conduct” used by Arkansas to determine whether to disbar a lawyer state under rule 8.4:
“It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to … (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation [or] (d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice,” which Hogue points out in his rebuttal.
“In addition, as the Comment to Rule 8.4 notes, it is likewise true that a lawyer holding public office assumes ethical obligations going beyond those of ordinary lawyers,” Hogue said in his rebuttal.
“It is especially important, in order to retain public respect for the law and the courts, for lawyers holding public office to avoid misconduct, particularly notorious misconduct, which would draw the law and lawyers into disrepute,” he added.
Glavin said the American Bar Association standards for sanctioning lawyer conduct leave little doubt as to which penalty best applies in the Clinton matter – “disbarment.”
“The Arkansas Supreme Court, echoing the ABA rules, has said, ‘There is no place in the law for a man or woman who cannot or will not tell the truth, even when his or her own interests are involved. In the legal profession, there must be reverence for the truth,'” explained Glavin quoting from the ABA rules.
“No other penalties, including reprimand and suspension, are appropriate in cases where attorney character related to basic honesty and respect for the integrity of the judicial system are in question — only disbarment,” he said.
Glavin said he could only characterize Clinton’s defense of his actions as “a flawed attempt to make a political argument out of a legal matter – as we have said from the beginning, truthfulness is not an aspirational goal for attorneys,” said Glavin.
“I believe that when a prominent Arkansas lawyer, somebody who’s known to be an Arkansas lawyer, and happens to be the President of the United States, and engages in conduct that involves lying, dishonesty, obstruction of justice, and this is known,” he should be disbarred, explained Hogue.
“I thought it was important to step forward and say this man has to be held to account. Lawyers don’t enjoy a very high level of esteem in society. Anything that gives us a black eye makes things worse for us, and I thought he was an embarrassment to the profession, and that some kind of accountability needed to happen,” said Hogue of his decision to file the original complaint.
The committee members will now be sent copies of the original complaint, the Clinton response, and Hogue’s rebuttal. They will study those materials and respond by completing a paper ballot and returning it by mail to be tallied. If a clear majority decision cannot be reached, the committee will discuss the case and resolve their differences at their next regular meeting on May 19. Clinton has the right to appeal the decision of the committee, which result in a public hearing, according to committee chairman, attorney Ken Reeves.