The discussion has been a bit surprising to me.I am extremely uncomfortable with pundits criticizing Trump’s defense team on the basis of people they have previously represented. I don’t care if they’ve represented Epstein or O.J. Everyone is entitled to a defense. Period. Yep, even Trump.
The Facebook post had its genesis on Friday evening, when Chris Hayes (MSNBC) commented something to the effect that Ken Starr was an inappropriate pick because of his past legal positions (including as a special prosecutor against Clinton).
In my life, I have represented companies, and have taken positions that are wholly contrary to my own views. I represent folks trying to get their gun rights restored, and anyone who knows me knows how I feel about guns. I have represented criminal clients whose crimes have been abhorrent.* I didn’t agree with the positions or the crimes, but I fully understand that every person and company are entitled to representation, and I always represent my clients zealously, to the best of my ability, even if I may disagree with them.
Every criminal is entitled to safeguards to ensure his/her rights are not violated. Every company is entitled to safeguards to ensure that a civil trial is fair and square. And former criminals who have lived a flawless life since should have all the rights that we all enjoy, even if we choose not to enjoy some. Advocacy is central to our judicial system, be it civil or criminal.
I’ve never (knowingly, at least) misrepresented any fact or law to any court. But facts can be considered from different angles, and lawyers/judges can apply the law to identical facts and reach different conclusions. That’s advocacy. It doesn’t reflect on my morals or my professionalism.
So fast forward to Chris Hayes (with whom I agree 99.9% of the time). I think it’s fair criticism of Starr and Derschowitz that they seem to be more comfortable these days on Fox News than in a courtroom; it’s fair to criticize them on unfounded (and not case-related) positions they have taken. It’s fair to point out that Starr has long been a darling of the right, and that Derschowitz has taken provocative constitutional positions. There’s plenty of fodder there. But to criticize either of them because of whom they have represented in the past is simply not right.
And no, this isn’t a job interview for Trump. He (unlike most of my clients) can afford to find someone else (even if he stiffs them for payment), and I would decline. My request is simple: don’t judge lawyers on whom they’ve represented in the past.
*I don’t like Qasem Soleimani, either, but don’t think he should have been assassinated. I’ll save that for another day.
1 thought on “Choice of counsel – basis for fair criticism?”
I really like your objectivity, Diane. And I like this blog.