The Rule of Law, Not Men...or Women
by Joe Speelman on November 21, 2016 at 12:42 PM
The Legal Wilderness:
Dedicated to Searching and Exploring our Legal Frontiers to Find, Categorize, and Tag the Wild, Untamed and Predatory Applications of the Law
This is about attorneys and the Rule of Law. Here we sit. A political outsider has been elected President after a bruising series of primary elections and then an even more uncivil general election. One of the two candidates was, and still is, an attorney by training and initial work history. That would be Hillary Clinton. The other candidate is a New York billionaire, not an attorney but who, over the course of years, has used attorneys to accomplish his business deals and to defend him in sometimes high profile cases. That would be Donald Trump.
We have seen all manner of personalities from a sitting President, both candidates, to numerous other political individuals wrap themselves up in the “shawl” of Rule of Law. In the case of the President, after issuing numerous executive directives that he had previously acknowledged were beyond his authority, he writes an article in the Wall Street Journal claiming that denying his Supreme Court nominee a vote in the US Senate was a denial of Rule of Law. That requires some pretty large boots to wade through such a “deep pool of sewage” in my view. This President is a Harvard Law School graduate and an attorney. The last time, in modern history, a sitting President was deemed to have broken the law, he was impeached but the Senate refused to remove him from office. That President was William Jefferson Clinton. The last time prior to that a sitting President was found to have broken the law, he was impeached and resigned from office before the Senate would have likely removed him from office. That President was Richard M. Nixon. Both Nixon and Bill Clinton were attorneys by training and practice.
In the case of Hillary Clinton, we have, over the last three years, been witness to report after report, investigation after investigation, and revelation after revelation of Ms. Clinton acting with disregard to her responsibilities to obey the law. In the matter of the management and control of her e-mails, both personal and official government messages, she seems to have actively tried to suppress the disclosure of her motives and actions, and deflect her responsibilities, as a lawyer and a citizen, to cooperate in the review of such actions. Even a casual but intellectually honest observer would conclude that Hillary Clinton has engaged in a pattern of refusal to cooperate with existing, formal investigations into her e-mail conduct. US criminal law provides that it is a federal crime to engage in obstruction of a formal investigation. Many, many individuals, over the last 100 years have been charged and convicted with obstruction of justice for refusing to cooperate with formal investigations or attempting to hide or destroy evidence of their wrongdoing. It is called Obstruction of Justice.
The most troubling aspect of this has yet to be completely viewed by the citizens of this country. That would be her involvement, while a sitting Secretary of State of the United States, in meetings, formally and informally, with representatives or agents of foreign nations regarding the sale of strategic material (uranium) to a Russian controlled company, as well as lending her significant influence as the Secretary of State in arranging or facilitating transfers of money to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for such sales, access to agencies of the US Government, and favorable consideration of various transactions by foreign organizations and individuals with numerous US government agencies. The Clinton Foundation is setup and controlled by Bill and Hillary Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea. The above actions have been clearly set out in numerous articles, investigations, a book called “Clinton Cash”, and many news accounts. Both state and Federal laws prohibit the acceptance of bribes by public officials as well as private citizens. Bribery is, simply, the taking of something of value (money) in exchange for action or inaction by a government official to the clear financial benefit of a third party. Worse yet, Federal law, since the beginning of the Constitution, has prohibited treason by US citizens. Violations of the above two plainly written laws are clearly at least implicated by the above facts.
All attorneys are bound by various state bar ethical codes and the American Bar Association Code of Ethics. Those codes all have numerous provisions in common, one of them being the requirement that all attorneys, at all times, avoid “even the appearance of impropriety” or wrongdoing. I suggest strongly that Hillary Clinton’s actions chronicled above create at least the appearance of impropriety. As such, it is incumbent upon all bar associations to which she belongs to begin immediate proceedings to determine if the above suggestion is true. If so, then she must be disciplined, which, depending upon the severity or notoriety of the action, can result in her disbarment. In effect, removing her as an attorney.
Why do bar associations have such a provision? It is simply to ensure that all attorneys adhere to ethical and legal conduct. Attorneys have a duty to uphold the rule of law. The rule of law is a requirement to respect and comply with the plain meaning of laws throughout the country, both state and federal laws. The above and foregoing all call into question her status and standing as an attorney. No matter what her political views are, her status as some kind of Democratic Party dignitary or “star”, the Rule of Law requires that, at a minimum, she be subject to disciplinary action. You have to ask, why has this not been done?
Let me finish with the following:
“Every lawyer, at least once in every case, feels himself (or herself) crossing a line the they don’t mean to cross…it just happens…And if you cross it enough times it disappears forever. And then you’re nothing but another lawyer joke. Just another shark in the dirty water.”
The Rainmaker movie, (1997), written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Based upon John Grisham’s 1995 novel of the same name.
Hillary Clinton has become a sad lawyer joke. But it isn’t very funny. If attorneys do not uphold the law or allow certain people to simply disregard the law because they think they are above it, why should regular citizens obey the law? Why should they pay their taxes, as the law requires, while these others take advantage of those tax dollars to do as they wish, without restraint or consequence?
We are at the edge of this cliff. Too much is too much. Attorneys have duties and they must follow those duties. If they do not we will lose the Rule of Law and what we cherish most, freedom and equality.
There is much talk of “draining the swamp” now. I suggest strongly we “purify the water”. Our constitutional government is fragile and as of today it has many tattered and frayed parts. Now as never before, we are at risk. If we allow our government of laws and not men or women to fail, none of us could stand in the wind that would then blow.
You do not need to be an attorney to write or communicate with the American Bar Association or any state bar association and insist the above issues be reviewed by their disciplinary committees. It is your right as a citizen of the United States and each state to bring these matters to the attention of respective bar associations. I encourage you to do so.