Question: Which two men are fit to practice law? (It’s a trick question…)
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog muses on an issue that has troubled me for a long time: the fact that the legal profession allows people to keep practicing law whose conduct would have kept them out of the profession had it occurred before they were lawyers.
The reason for the current examination is the apparent inconsistency of disgraced New Republic journalist Stephen Glass continuing to fight and uphill battle (and, I think, doomed) to be admitted to the California bar, while lying scum-of-the-earth John Edwards still has his law license and is opening up a new practice in North Carolina. I wrote about Glass here, and Edwards here.
In the Journal piece, estimable legal ethicist Stephen Gillers opines that the different standards applied to Glass and Edwards are paradoxical, with the law grads entering the profession being held to more stringent ethical standards than a veteran attorneys. “If anything, you might say it should be the opposite,” he says.
Especially if the veteran lawyer is a high-profile, national figure who makes every other lawyer want to crawl under a rock… Continue reading
Cornell law professor Michael Dorf makes my heart leap in admiration by bucking the popular trend—especially among Democrats and soft-hearted media types who 1) only like seeing Republicans and conservatives get in trouble for sex scandals and 2) think Edwards “has suffered enough” —of arguing that the prosecution of John Edwards for campaign fundraising violations is based on a weak legal case. On his blog, Prof. Dorf argues persuasively to the contrary:
“At its core, the indictment alleges that Edwards knowingly: 1) in violation of federal campaign finance law, accepted money well in excess of the individual campaign contribution limits; 2) spent that money to hide his extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter; and 3) in violation of federal campaign finance law, failed to disclose either the donations or the expenditures….
“…The real question with respect to the government’s point number 1) is whether the hundreds of thousands of dollars were given to Edwards ” for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” Subject to a whole lot of irrelevant exceptions, that’s the statutory definition of a “campaign contribution.” It is nearly inconceivable that the money for hiding the Hunter affair was not “for the purpose of influencing” the 2008 Presidential primary. What other possible purpose could it have served? Continue reading
John Edwards agrees with Chris Matthews
Journalist Joe Klein has been a candidate for an Ethics Dunce award for a long time, because he has been ethically suspect or worse for a long time. His defining integrity moment came when he lied about his authorship of the Bill Clinton roman-a-clef, “Primary Colors.” Since that time, Klein has gradually evolved into a shamelessly biased and ethically muddled political commentator from the left. Too bad. He’s a perceptive guy and a wonderful writer, but he makes his living now shooting from the hip, so we seldom get the benefit of his best qualities.
It was inevitable that the Chris Matthews Show would allow Klein’s ethical blindness to reach full flower. Matthews has been on his own journey of self-diminishment since MSNBC decided to become the anti-Fox; where once he could be counted on to treat the issues of the day fairly and avoid partisan cheerleading, the Obama years have seen him abandon any effort at objectivity or even-handedness. Matthews’ Sunday morning panel show now eschews ideological balance and has Matthews posing questions to a rotating group of reliable conservative-bashers, with an occasional straight journalist mixed in who at least pretends to be neutral. On Sunday, Matthews asked his panel about the appropriateness of the Justice Department’s prosecution of uber-cad John Edwards for violations of the federal election laws. It’s not a bad question, and reasonable people can disagree about the answer. The charges against Edwards stem from solicitation of large cash gifts from two long-time friends and supporters while he was simultaneously running for president and trying to cover up the existence of his love-child with Rielle Hunter and the adulterous affair that spawned her. The money was given directly to Hunter, raising a legal question as to whether it was really a campaign contribution at all. Continue reading
Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of pariah John Edwards, lost her long battle with cancer last week. The columns and broadcast tributes extolling her courage and character have been ubiquitous. She handled her illness with dignity, and the public revelation of her husband’s betrayal as well as could be expected. As is often the case when a public figure dies, however, the accolades have been excessive: calling Elizabeth Edwards a hero goes too far. When her opportunity for true heroism arrived, she not only rejected it, but chose a course of narrow self-interest that put the nation at risk. We can attribute this to ambition, human frailty, a mother’s warped perspective, or a bad decision under stress, but whatever the cause, her actions were the antithesis of heroism. Continue reading
There isn’t much good that can come out of the sordid infidelity Trifecta of John Edwards, Tiger Woods, and Jesse James, but maybe there will be this: Perhaps after the public has observed and measured all the pain and suffering the outrageous conduct of these three men has inflicted on innocent third parties, especially those who depended on them and trusted them, it will not be so quick to accept the facile argument, perfected during Bill Clinton’s ordeals, that adultery is “just sex.”
The latest flagrant celebrity dog, Jesse James, is an especially powerful case for leaving the Clinton Excuse with Clinton. He had a wife who clearly adored him, the late-marrying Sandra Bullock, who touchingly paid a tribute to her supposedly devoted husband in one of her several Best Actress acceptance speeches this year by saying that she knew he “had her back.” Now tattoo models and strippers are coming out of the woodwork to say they had affairs with the chopper-maker, and the revelations may end up sending his six-year old daughter back to her porn star mother, though James and Bullock had been awarded custody.
Destroy a family, devastate the woman who loves you, uproot your child. But hey, it’s only sex. Continue reading
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. Continue reading