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View Diary: The thuggery of Martin Luther King and heroism of bigotry? (16 comments)

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  •  Again, I think the underlying rationale matters (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, EdSF

    If it is a criminal defendant, I do think the lawyers should be almost entirely off limits from such criticism. One of the lawyers I respect deeply for his willingness to defend unpopular criminal defendants is Ramsey Clark. He's defended David Koresh, Charles Taylor, Radovan Karadic and Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein. That's a pretty vile list. Do I think Ramsey Clark shares their views of people. absolutely not because he was defending them out of principle that everyone is entitled to a good defense in court. And a Jewish lawyer that defends the freedom of speech of Nazis is a patriot of the highest order in my opinion, but I don't think that extends to laws that oppress those minorities who already lack the political power to achieve equality for themselves in society. It isn't a bright line, but a bright line isn't always the best measure.

    "So it was OK to waterboard a guy over 80 times but God forbid the guy who could understand what that prick was saying has a boyfriend."--Jon Stewart

    by craigkg on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 02:37:35 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  But that's so results-oriented (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      craigkg, VClib

      Because that's pretty close to "the lawyers who represent bad causes don't get protection," and in some communities the definition of a "bad cause" is going to be different than what we'd like.

      A few years ago I represented pro bono a suburban fourth grader who had been harassed by her teacher for referring to her father as a "donor dad" -- which he was, and which is what her lesbian parents always referred to him as.  Thankfully this was resolved without litigation, and thank goodness I work in a community where there was going to be support for such representation.

      But suppose I'm not in Philadelphia but a less LGBT-friendly place, and one for which this is remains a hot button issue for other clients of my firm. What then?  Or what if they didn't like my representation of outspoken liberal bloggers who've said intemperate things from time to time? What guarantees I get any protection at all if these questions become more subject to market forces and external pressure?

      •  Your examples don't fall into that category (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        EdSF, Adam B

        What the fourth grader said was clearly free speech in addition to accurately describing the relationship. A fourth grader being harassed by a teacher is not a situation between equals. Clearly defending the child from the capricious power of the teacher to harass falls into the category of protecting the 98lb weakling from the brute. That alone, regardless of the level of community support, should in a sense immunize the lawyer from reproach. The same is true of the liberal bloggers.

        Moreover, the lawyers have never had any control over this nor is this unique to the legal profession. Clients have always had the power to say, I don't like you doing business with this person and will take my business elsewhere if you don't cease your relationship. I'm not going to use the excuse that "well if the other guys do it I can too," but on a more fundamental level this sort of thing has always existed. If tonight I'm eating in a restaurant that kicks out a same sex couple at the next table over when it becomes clear to the owner that they are a same sex couple, nobody can force me to ever go to that restaurant again. I have a choice of where I want to eat at I will choose not to frequent such establishments.

        I know this can lead to some people not being able to find a local lawyer out of fear of community backlash, but that's why we have regional and national organizations who cannot be influenced by such pressures that can often pick up the slack. The same is true in this case as Clement has moved onto a firm that is not in as delicate position as K&S when it comes to their image in recruiting new associates out of law school or serving the needs of companies that need to be seen as open and diverse employers.

        I guess I just don't see how you expect this to be regulated when it is something that is already outside of the lawyer's realm of purview.

        "So it was OK to waterboard a guy over 80 times but God forbid the guy who could understand what that prick was saying has a boyfriend."--Jon Stewart

        by craigkg on Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 03:12:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not a question of regulation (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          craigkg, VClib

          But about the kind of culture and discourse we want to have around the representation of controversial clients.  And regardless of whether there's a broad principle at stake in a case, there's always the possibility of someone saying "don't take that case," whether or not we believe that person is beyond reproach given the equities.  Not everyone shares our values.

          Yes, it's a reality that clients can always say "no"," but the culture around law firms has generally been that this is about things like "you need to hire more diverse attorneys" or specific issue conflicts rather than disagreement with the ideological tenor of a case.

          Look, Clement's going to be fine. Anyone with his credentials, and with a $500,000 retainer he's lugging with him is going to find a landing place quickly.  But what if it were a pro bono matter, and an attorney without his reputation?  That troubles me.

          •  Adam, (0+ / 0-)

            I apologize for my naivete here and I am not an attorney, but is it posssible that the defense of the constitutionality of a law passed by Congress would ever be a pro bono matter? I hear your concern for the possibility that this case may be detrimental to the facilitation such litigation (i.e., pro bono matters) in the future but I wonder if there's any real connection between the two. Thanks.

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