The large and respected law firm Mayer Brown has taken the ugly case of some Japanese-American clients who want the city of Glendale, California to remove a memorial to World War II “comfort women” from a public park. In doing so, and in the way it is proceeding, the firm has inspired harsh condemnation from two estimable legal commentators, both First Amendment champions: Marc Randazza, and Ken White. Their objections, which caused Randazza to call the firm “the least honorable law firm in the world,”and White to conclude, “This lawsuit is thoroughly contemptible. It should fail, and everyone involved should face severe social consequences,” are heartfelt, but, I think, misguided. Their argument, beside arguing that the lawsuit is frivolous, is best articulated by Randazza: Continue reading
I don’t know much about Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. I know that he could hardly be more of a disaster than the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, and that the odds are that he would have to be much better. It may be that Adegbile is superbly qualified; it may be that he isn’t qualified at all. But I do know, with 100% certainty, that his representation of a convicted cop killer to seek to overturn his conviction is completely, absolutely irrelevant to his qualifications or character, and that for conservatives, Republicans and GOP Senators in Adegbile’s confirmation hearings to argue otherwise is both irresponsible and contemptible.
I first learned of this controversy from conservative radio host Mark Levin, who can really be an ugly hypocrite at times, and this was one of those times. Levin is a distinguished lawyer and an ethical one*; I refuse to believe that he does not comprehend ABA Model Rule 1.2 (b) or its importance to his profession. It reads:
“A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.”
This principle is essential to allow, not merely the justice system but the entire rule of laws in a democracy, to function properly, and any lawyer who cynically, unethically, and dishonestly undermines it is playing with fire. “It is a move,” writes Prof. Jonathan Turley, “that strikes at the heart of the notion of the right to counsel and due process”—-but it is much more than that. If every citizen does not have full access to the laws of the land, the ability to use them to his own benefit and protection whatever his purpose, as long as it is legal, then this is not a government by the people and for the people, but rather a government of law-manipulating specialists and experts who bend ordinary citizens to their will through the use of complex, convoluted, jargon-riddled statutes and regulations that their victims can’t possibly understand. Continue reading