The last shoe dropped in the sordid John Edwards tale, with his admission that he was indeed the father of his mistress’s infant daughter, as many suspected. This comes months after he emphatically and repeatedly denied this fact to the media, in the course of admitting that he indeed did have an affair with the child’s mother, Rielle Hunter, after months of denying that. His efforts at covering up all of this ultimately incorporated his terminally ill wife, his friend and supporter Fred Baron, who paid his mistress to make herself scarce, and his aide Andrew Young, who was induced to publicly claim that he, not Edwards, was the father of baby Quinn. All of the deception initiated by Edwards took place while he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, on a platform of moral obligation and justice.
John Edwards is unfit to be lawyer, and the North Carolina Bar Association should disbar him.
The North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, like virtually all the state rules governing lawyer ethics, requires lawyers (in Rule 8.3) to report misconduct of a colleague who has violated the Rules in a manner that “raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” It is a violation of Rule 8.4 for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” A lawyer does not have to be practicing law while engaging in such conduct, for lawyers represent the legal profession in everything they do, private or public. There has been much debate over the years regarding whether adultery is sufficiently dishonest to trigger bar discipline, and for reasons more practical than ethical, bars have declined to declare cheating on one’s spouse a serious indication of untrustworthiness, though of course it is. Edward’s conduct, however, goes far, far beyond betraying his wife and violating his marriage vows:
- He repeatedly lied to the public and the media, even, at one point, saying that he would gladly take a lie detector test to prove that he did not father Hunter’s child.
- He engineered a conspiracy to deceive his supporters, the Democratic Party, and the voters regarding his conduct and character, with the objective of achieving the highest office in the land under false pretenses.
- He attempted to avoid his obligations as a father, a husband, a leader, a candidate, and a representative of the legal profession, placing his Party at risk and inducing others to engage in bribery and fraud on his behalf.
- He did not simply cheat on his wife; he cheated on her while she was most vulnerable, battling inoperable cancer.
Is there any way a client, not to mention a family, organization, political party or nation, should trust someone who behaves like this? The attorney-client relationship’s foundation is trust; the word attorney came from an archaic French word for trust. There can be no rational argument that a man who could present an entirely false image to the American people over many years, posing as a champion of values and integrity, and then attempt to hide outrageously irresponsible behavior with an elaborate and audacious cover-up, should be trusted with a client’s funds, welfare, or legal objectives.
I wouldn’t trust him to mail a letter.
A law student who had conducted himself as Edwards has would never achieve bar admission, because his presence would degrade any bar association that included him. Would the North Carolina Bar admit Tiger Woods, if he graduated from law school? I don’t think so. But Tiger Woods’ dishonesty pales next to the despicable acts of Edwards.
I’m a lawyer, and I don’t want to be part of a profession that deems a shameless fraud like John Edwards worthy of it.
Kick him out.