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Conservatives Attack Hillary Clinton For Being A Criminal Defense Attorney 40 Years Ago

Criminal Defense Attorney In Court

Earlier this week the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative online publication that has gained significant traction on that side of the aisle in the past year or so, published a story based on recordings of an interview with Hillary Clinton in the 1980s in which she discussed her representation of a man  named Thomas Alfred Taylor, who was accused of raping a twelve year old girl. It was, apparently, one of the first cases that Hillary handled as a young attorney just out of law school and trying to build a legal career in Arkansas, where she had moved with her new husband. As you might expect, the Free Beacon’s version of events paints Clinton in the worst possible light, but it’s a necessary starting point:

Newly discovered audio recordings of Hillary Clinton from the early 1980s include the former first lady’s frank and detailed assessment of the most significant criminal case of her legal career: defending a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl.

In 1975, the same year she married Bill, Hillary Clinton agreed to serve as the court-appointed attorney for Thomas Alfred Taylor, a 41-year-old accused of raping the child after luring her into a car.

The recordings, which date from 1983-1987 and have never before been reported, include Clinton’s suggestion that she knew Taylor was guilty at the time. She says she used a legal technicality to plead her client, who faced 30 years to life in prison, down to a lesser charge. The recording and transcript, along with court documents pertaining to the case, are embedded below.

The full story of the Taylor defense calls into question Clinton’s narrative of her early years as a devoted women and children’s advocate in Arkansas—a narrative the 2016 presidential frontrunner continues to promote on her current book tour.

Her comments on the rape trial are part of more than five hours of unpublished interviews conducted by Arkansas reporter Roy Reed with then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife in the mid-1980s.

(…)

Twenty-seven-year-old Hillary Rodham had just moved to Fayetteville, and was running the University of Arkansas’ newly-formed legal aid clinic, when she received a call from prosecutor Mahlon Gibson.

“The prosecutor called me a few years ago, he said he had a guy who had been accused of rape, and the guy wanted a woman lawyer,” said Clinton in the interview. “Would I do it as a favor for him?”

The case was not easy. In the early hours of May 10, 1975, the Springdale, Arkansas police department received a call from a nearby hospital. It was treating a 12-year-old girl who said she had been raped.

The suspect was identified as Thomas Alfred Taylor, a 41-year-old factory worker and friend of the girl’s family.

And though the former first lady mentioned the ethical difficulties of the case inLiving History, her written account some three decades later is short on details and has a far different tone than the tapes.

“It was a fascinating case, it was a very interesting case,” Clinton says in the recording. “This guy was accused of raping a 12-year-old. Course he claimed that he didn’t, and all this stuff” (LISTEN HERE).

Describing the events almost a decade after they had occurred, Clinton’s struck a casual and complacent attitude toward her client and the trial for rape of a minor.

“I had him take a polygraph, which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” she added with a laugh.

Clinton can also be heard laughing at several points when discussing the crime lab’s accidental destruction of DNA evidence that tied Taylor to the crime.

Not surprisingly, the Free Becon’s story was picked up by several conservative bloggers, including Jim Geraghty, who wondered if Clinton ‘regretted’ her actions in the forty year old case. The story received new life later in the week when The Daily Beast Josh Rogin ran an interview with the woman who was victim in the case, and who claimed that Clinton had smeared her during the course of her representation of the Defendant. Specifically, this accusation apparently involves an affidavit in which accusations are made about the girl’s mental instability at the time of the attack. That affidavit, which is included in a collection of documents related to the case that the Free Beacon has posted online, was in support of a motion requesting a psychological examination of the victim in the case. While this may seem like an odd request in the modern era, it was not at all uncommon in rape cases in the 1970s, even in cases involving accusations made by children. In the interview, the victim asserts that this was a falsehood, which is a serious allegation since it essentially accuses Clinton of lying under oath to a Judge. Ed Morrissey picks up on this part of the story to argue that this entire story is about more than just an attorney’s zealous representation. The problem with that line of argument is that Clinton’s statement in the affidavit that she “has been informed” of certain facts regarding the victim would only be a lie if it could be proven that she had not been so informed. Nearly 40 years after the fact, that’s impossible to prove, and it’s pretty weak sauce for an argument that Clinton did anything wrong here.

The connotations of the article are blindingly obvious, of course. The Free Beacon, which is yet another in the long line of partisan websites that exist on both sides of the aisle which purport to practice journalism but are in fact primarily interesting in partisan advocacy, is attempting to smear Clinton based on her representation of someone who was accused of a heinous crime, the rape of a child. The fact that they are talking about an event that happened thirty-nine years in the past, that Clinton’s involvement in the case was already public knowledge, including being the subject of a 2008 piece by Glenn Thrush in New York Newsday, doesn’t really matter. Indeed, the Beacon’s original article notes that there’s Clinton was doing nothing different from what every other criminal defense attorney does in cases they are assigned on a daily basis:

From a legal ethics perspective, once she agreed to take the case, Clinton was required to defend her client to the fullest even if she did believe he was guilty.

“We’re hired guns,” Ronald D. Rotunda, a professor of legal ethics at Chapman University, told the Washington Free Beacon. “We don’t have to believe the client is innocent…our job is to represent the client in the best way we can within the bounds of the law.”

Along those same lines, The Volokh Conspiracy’s  Jonathan Adler laments the Beacon article, along with the rather predictable response to it from the right, as yet another example of the Republican’s willingness to attack attorneys for doing their job:

What should we make of this story?  Perhaps nothing more than that Hillary Clinton represented someone in need and fulfilled her duty as a member of the bar to provide a zealous defense of her client.  This is not something for which she should be attacked.  We are all the worse off if the message sent to young lawyers is that representing guilty or unpopular clients is likely to be a political liability down the road.  Ably and effectively representing a criminal defendant — even one you believe to be guilty — is not “scummy” or inappropriate. Forcing the state to prove its case before it deprives an individual of their life, liberty or property is a noble endeavor.  So while I think the story is newsworthy, I think most of the attacks on Clinton for this episode are misplaced, and a bit opportunistic. [Note that some attacking Clinton are also calling for more more due process protections for college students accused of rape.]

(…)

The bottom-line here is that Hillary Clinton’s work on this case as a young attorney 40 years ago is interesting and newsworthy, but that’s about it.  Unless and until more damaging evidence emerges, there’s no basis for the new attacks on her.  Anti-Hillary folks should look elsewhere.

Contra The Washington Free Beacon, there is nothing “scummy” or “semi-sociopathic” about what she did (and, no, I don’t find the uncomfortable laughter on the audio tape interview with Clinton a decade-or-so after the fact to be troubling either — listen to it for yourself.)  She engaged in able and (as far as we know) ethical defense work — and defense work is a noble calling.  The WFB may be correct that it’s not a winning political argument to defend the work that defense attorneys do.  If so, that’s a sad commentary on our political system, and not something thoughtful commentators should celebrate or exploit.

This isn’t the first time that conservatives have attacked defense attorneys for doing their job. Almost as soon as he was named as President Obama’s nominee for Attorney General in 2009, Michelle Malkin and other conservatives attacked Eric Holder because Covington & Burling, the law firm at which he was a partner prior to being nominated, had represented several men who had been held at the prison at Guantanamo Bay. That accusation continues to follow Holder to this day despite the fact that he never worked on any such cases and that Covington & Burling is a 700 lawyer firm with offices all over the world. More recently, the Republican Governor’s Association ran ads against the Democratic challenging Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina due to his past as a criminal defense attorney. Adler had written about that incident when it occurred  here and here, and I also lamented the GOP’s willingness to demonize something that is a necessary part of our criminal defense system:

 What makes it so despicable is the fact that the RGA is essentially attacking Shaheen for doing something that is absolutely essential to the proper functioning of our justice system. Having access to counsel is a right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, and the rest of the rights that people are entitled to when accused of crimes would be meaningless if there weren’t attorney out there willing to defend even people accused of the most despicable of crimes. It’s most likely true that most of the people that Sheheen represented in Court over the course of his career were indeed guilty of the crimes they were accused of, and probably of others as well. However, that’s an irrelevant point. Our criminal justice system presumes that everyone accused of a crime is innocent until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that every person accused of a crime deserves representation by competent counsel whose job it is to protect their rights and force the state to meet its burdens of proof. Implying that there is something wrong with this to the point that a person who works as a criminal defense attorney is unqualified to hold public office, as this RGA ad does is nothing short of reprehensible.

In the South Carolina case, at least the attacks on Haley’s opponent involved something that had occurred relatively recently in the past, and indeed involved what Shaheen had been doing for a career outside of politics. In Clinton’s case, we are talking about a case that was over four decades ago, and which occurred at the start of Clinton’s legal career. Like many young attorneys, Clinton was no doubt interested in obtaining courtroom and trial experience, and one of the best ways to do that even today is to take part in representing people accused of crimes who can’t afford an attorney, which was apparently the case here. Taylor was entitled to an attorney in any case, and he was entitled to have an attorney who represented his interests zealously within the bounds of the law. That’s exactly what Clinton did here, and it strikes me as improper to attack her for doing so.

This impropriety would seem to be especially true for a political party that claims to value the Constitution and the Bill of Rights given the fact that they are essentially attacking people who are performing a necessary rule under those documents. The Sixth Amendment, of course, provides that every person is entitled to be represented by counsel in criminal trials such as the one that Taylor was faced with. It’s also an oft-repeated axiom that, in our system, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Given this, one would think that they would recognize the invaluable role that criminal defense attorneys play and they wouldn’t be so quick to attack people for performing that job. After all, the signal things like the attacks on Shaheen and Clinton send is that young attorneys who might be thinking about a future in politics should think twice before defending people accused of crimes. Presumably, one would think that most people would want to encourage such representation on the off chance that they or someone in their family would need to take advantage of the services of a defense attorney at some point in the future.

Criminal defense work is a noble profession, more so when it involves the defense of people accused of heinous crimes and facing potentially long prison sentences, if not the death penalty itself. We should be thanking the people who do that work, not attacking them for cynical partisan gain.

Photo via MLive.com

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    This impropriety would seem to be especially true for a political party that claims to value the Constitution and the Bill of Rights given the fact that they are essentially attacking people who are performing a necessary rule under those documents.

    Criminal defense work is a noble profession, more so when it involves the defense of people accused of heinous crimes and facing potentially long prison sentences, if not the death penalty itself. We should be thanking the people who do that work, not attacking them for cynical partisan gain.

    Well said Doug, bravo! Like the religious right cheery picks the Bible the Republicans cheery pick the constitution.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  2. rudderpedals says:

    It’s worth putting things in perspective. Good post, Doug. I think Cap’n Ed’s fixation caused him to miss the boat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. James Pearce says:

    The headline could read: “Conservatives Attack Hillary Clinton For ……….pick something.”

    I think stuff like the Beacon article is easy to dismiss for one reason: Everyone hates defense attorneys…until they’re the ones on trial.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  4. Mu says:

    About half the Presidents in the last 100 years have studied law, been a lawyer or a judge. As it’s probably impossible to not have once defended as a lawyer or set free as a judge some unsavory subject, the history of our country would have been very different if Wilson, Coolidge, FDR, Truman, Nixon, Ford, Clinton and Obama would all have been disqualified for their professional actions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  5. They Saved Nixon's Brain says:

    Everyone deserves a zealous defense…even me!!!
    I never should have listened to that ambulance chaser! I might be King of the World by now!!! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

    As Watergate unfolded, Garment encouraged Nixon not to destroy tapes of his conversations that came from a recording system Nixon had installed in the White House.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/15/leonard-garment-dead-nixon-adviser-dies-obituary_n_3602113.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Rafer Janders says:

    She says she used a legal technicality to plead her client, who faced 30 years to life in prison, down to a lesser charge.

    The phrase “legal technicality” often annoys me, as many people really use it to mean “a part of the law I don’t like.”

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  7. Rafer Janders says:

    This impropriety would seem to be especially true for a political party that claims to value the Constitution and the Bill of Rights given the fact that they are essentially attacking people who are performing a necessary rule under those documents.

    Key word there is “claims.”

    I also claim to be 6’2”, but that doesn’t make it so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  8. Scott says:

    Can we now stop calling these people conservatives? They are not. Call them as they really are: right wing radicals. Conservatives work to preserve institutions; these people work to demean, degrade and tear them down. The totalitarian strain is coming out strong lately as it has through out history. They are a clear and present danger to our country.

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  9. wr says:

    @Rafer Janders: “The phrase “legal technicality” often annoys me, as many people really use it to mean “a part of the law I don’t like.””

    To a true right winger — say Rush “What? Drug laws apply to rich white guys?” Limbaugh — a legal technicality means “a part of the law I don’t like except when my team uses it to get me out of trouble.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  10. ernieyeball says:

    @They Saved Nixon’s Brain: Everyone deserves a zealous defense…even me!!!

    Yes and your defense was paid for by poor saps like me at the time. You know taxpayers. Just like Arkansas taxpayers paid for representation of Mrs. Clinton’s client 40 years ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  11. Tyrell says:

    @James Pearce: Yes, and would they have us believe that Republican Senators or House members have never defended questionable people in their legal careers?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Nice straw man, Doug. I read a few discussions of this elsewhere, and the major point they rose — and you skipped over — was this part, which you quoted:

    “I had him take a polygraph, which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” she added with a laugh.

    Clinton can also be heard laughing at several points when discussing the crime lab’s accidental destruction of DNA evidence that tied Taylor to the crime.

    It’s not her conduct as an attorney, it’s her finding it laugh-worthy in retrospect. Because finding ways to let rapists escape justice is always hysterical.

    And yeah, I’m standing by that. Clinton herself thought he was guilty (see the bit quoted about polygraphs), and thinks it’s hysterical that she got him off (if you’ll pardon the expression).

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  13. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    The phrase “legal technicality” often annoys me, as many people really use it to mean “a part of the law I don’t like.”

    Actually, let me rephrase that: they really use it to mean “a part of the law which produces a result I don’t like.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @Scott:

    Conservatives work to preserve institutions; these people work to demean, degrade and tear them down

    Oh, not at all. They’re absolutely conservatives. Politically, conservatives don’t “work to preserve institutions” — that’s as often a job of the liberals as of the conservatives. Politically, conservatives are distinguished by their efforts to preserve the power of the powerful, to preserve institutions only insofar as those institutions work to keep the poor and defenseless down and the rich and powerful up. Let the institutions once take the side of the beaten and downtrodden and conservatives will abandon those institutions in a fast minute.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  15. george says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And yeah, I’m standing by that. Clinton herself thought he was guilty (see the bit quoted about polygraphs), and thinks it’s hysterical that she got him off (if you’ll pardon the expression).

    If lawyers aren’t supposed to try their best to defend clients they personally think are guilty, aren’t they in fact acting as judges? In which case, why bother with trials – we’ll just have the lawyers figure out beforehand who is innocent and who is guilty.

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  16. george says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Oh, not at all. They’re absolutely conservatives. Politically, conservatives don’t “work to preserve institutions” — that’s as often a job of the liberals as of the conservatives.

    Only in America. Conservative means preserve in most other parts of the world. Merkel in Germany is a conservative for instance. So is Harper in Canada (and you can go through the list of conservative leaders in Europe and Japan quite nicely and find no radical right wingers among them … of course in America, they’d be CINO’s (conservatives in name only). In fact both Merkel and Harper are to the left of the Democrats on most issues.

    Don’t confuse the American definition with conservative with what it means everywhere else. Its kind of like ‘football’ – what the rest of the world means by it is not the same as what it means in the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    @george:

    Only in America. Conservative means preserve in most other parts of the world.

    Again, not really. I’ve lived and traveled half my live in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America and have seen the same dynamic at work there. I’m not at all confusing the American definition with that elsewhere; in fact, I first came to this conclusion after studying the revolutionary movements in 19th century European politics. Whatever the labels applied to the parties, you could be sure that the “conservatives” favored the rich and powerful and world to preserve their status.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. bk says:

    Chief Justice John Roberts defended a serial killer earlier in his career. Somehow, that is different, in an IOKIYAAR kind of way, I guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  19. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    …thinks it’s hysterical that she got him off…

    Just like if you talk to any Dr or nurse you will hear them laugh about things that would make the average person gag or weep, if you talk to any attorney or judge you will hear them laugh about things that would make the average person gag or weep*. The same is true of fire fighters, police, and the military. It is part of dealing with a profession that puts you in positions that the average person doesn’t experience or understand; it is how you get through your days. To demonize them for that is as stupid as it is to demonize them for doing their damn jobs.

    * I am currently professionally surrounded by one of those professions and grew up surrounded by the others.

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  20. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “And yeah, I’m standing by that. ”

    At least until it’s proven to another insane right wing smear, at which point you will declare that you never really cared about what Clinton did, you were merely commenting on the fact that not enough people here were repeating gossip from right wing websites, or some other nonsense.

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  21. george says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Whatever the labels applied to the parties, you could be sure that the “conservatives” favored the rich and powerful and world to preserve their status.

    That’s certainly partly true, but its not that straightforward. For instance, conservatives in Germany and Canada, for instance, want to conserve public health care (the rich and powerful in both would prefer a completely private system like the old US system). They also want to preserve a progressive tax scheme (again the rich and powerful prefer a flat tax. Those are both pretty important issues in which they go against the clear preferences of the rich and powerful.

    The interesting thing about both of those cases is that, at least in Canada, when public health and progressive taxation was initially introduced, conservatives were against it. Now that they’ve become the standard, conservatives want to preserve them (adding a private option in the case of public health in Canada, but still holding onto the public health). That’s pretty much the definition of conserving – keeping what’s current. Another example is the conservative gov’t position on abortion in Canada – they say its a done deal and don’t want to talk about it, disciplining party members who want to bring it up (though I’m not sure the rich and powerful have consensus leanings on abortion in Canada).

    The fact that the current system is weighted in favor of the rich and powerful means that more often than not they’re conserving the rich and powerful, but not exclusively so. Its a different mindset than what’s typically seen in the US, where the idea is to turn back the clock.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. Tyrell says:

    Over the years there have been many infamous criminals that absolutely were harmful to society: the Booth conspirators (questions about the legality of the military trial and improper proceedings), Lindbergh kidnapper, Charles Manson, Al Capone, Nazi war crimnals (so many got light sentences or were never tried), Jeffrey Dahmer, and the Cleveland kidnapper (a bonafide lunatic if there ever was). These all were represented by lawyers, many of whom were excellent. These criminals were all guilty, with few doubts except in the Booth conspirators (Surratt), and that Lindbergh kidnapping guy. Even society’s worst get legal representation. We may not like the outcomes all of the time, but that is our system and it seems to me it is better than anything else out there. It is never easy or always neat. It is also hard to take when the victim is a child.
    Manson – life in prison: okay, but they should have never let him
    come on tv and do those
    interviews. That was an affront to our society, and to the victims’ families.
    “Justice is my province and mine alone” (Judge Fenton “Hang ‘em High”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    …thinks it’s hysterical that she got him off…

    Clearly, you have never been around a group of attorneys when they are letting their hair down. Hardly a surprise, as it has long since been established that you don’t get out much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  24. Hal_10000 says:

    I would see experience as a public defender as a plus for a politician. Far too few of our politicians (the subset that are lawyers) and WAY too few of our judges have experience in criminal defense. Those who practiced law at all were usually prosecutors. It’s what enables the Courts to make ridiculous rulings like the cops can search your house without a warrant because they claim to have smelled some pot because cops just wouldn’t lie about a thing like that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  25. Eric Florack says:

    Look;whatever else might be said about the duties of defense attorneys….. Under no conditions can what Hillary Clinton did in that case, be considered defending women. She wasn’t court ordered to defend the rapist. She took the case on her own.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  26. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    She took the case on her own.

    That’s what attorneys do dipwad, they take cases. It’s called earning a living. In our system, everyone, event the worst scumbag, is entitled to representation. You don’t like it, move to North Korea or Somolia where their values are more in line with yours.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  27. anjin-san says:

    My father was a successful attorney in the bay area for over 40 years. Anyone who thinks you can have a career in the law and never get your hands dirty is fooling themselves. It is a messy and often dirty business, and winning is the bottom line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  28. bill says:

    what’s surprising is that we never heard of this until now. it’s all part of the vetting process for her, the sawyer/fox interviews to see if she could handle anyone throwing questions at her without her eyes bugging out and her voice getting shriller than usual.
    sure she’s all about women & children…..getting raped as long as she gets paid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  29. anjin-san says:

    @ bill

    to see if she could handle anyone throwing questions at her

    Hillary Clinton has been one of the most prominent people in the world for over 20 years. She can handle more before breakfast than you can in a decade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  30. @Eric Florack: She was a court-appointed attorney, you dumbass. People on the court-appoint attorney list don’t get to pick and choose who they’re going to represent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  31. Xenos says:

    @george: In parliamentary systems such as in Europe the conservative parties are not forced into alliance with right-wing groups. The German and French conservatives, then, can keep their tea party equivalents out of ruling coalitions most of the time, or to work around them in coalitions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. Xenos says:

    @george:

    Only in America. Conservative means preserve in most other parts of the world. Merkel in Germany is a conservative for instance.

    At the same time reactionaries went on a systematic program to demonize Libralism by conflating it with radical leftism they appropriated conservatism by conflating it with their rightist radicalism.

    Conservatives are many things, but they are not revanchistes. Liberals do a pretty good job of policing their borders on their left flank (also known as ‘hippy punching’). Conservatives have been terrible at this, and eventually ‘conservative’ will be as much a term of opprobrium as ‘liberal’ became in the 1970s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  33. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: Jey, they also REJECT cases, don’t they?
    Are you really telling me she didn’t have a choice? Are you telling me if she was really all about “Working tirelessly for women” do you suppose she’d not have turned the case down?

    Or, maybe the money was too large for her to not toss the rape victim under the bus?

    Your defense system appears to have a hole in it.

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  34. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’d like to apologize for my earlier comments. On further reflection, I realize that, under certain circumstances, child rape can be hysterically funny. Besides, I’m sure that Hilary was right, the 12-year-old little slut surely asked for it. Where do I go to sign the petition to pardon Roman Polanski?

    And all he did was rape the girl. It wasn’t like he waterboarded her or something.

    Seriously… this wasn’t “shop talk” among lawyers. This was Hillary Clinton giving an interview to a journalist while she was the First Lady of Arkansas. (recorded at some point between 1983 and 1987).

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  35. bill says:

    @anjin-san: yeah, keep telling yourself that. she wigs out and looks like an idiot when confronted with anything- and that sets off a negative vibe with dumb voters who actually decide these races.
    just think, if this was a republican it would be “the war on women & children” idiocy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  36. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Or, maybe the money was too large for her to not toss the rape victim under the bus?

    Yep, those fat fat public defender checks got her to turn her back on all women in favor of her real constituency… rapists. You have become a parody of your already difficult to parody self.

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  37. george says:

    @Xenos:

    At the same time reactionaries went on a systematic program to demonize Libralism by conflating it with radical leftism they appropriated conservatism by conflating it with their rightist radicalism.

    Again, you’re mainly talking about America here, unless you’re talking of the normal level of demonization of the opposition done by every political party (in Canada the NDP, the Liberals and the Conservatives all equally demonize the others – it comes with the game) … and again, all three are left of the Democrats in the US.

    @Xenos:

    @george: In parliamentary systems such as in Europe the conservative parties are not forced into alliance with right-wing groups. The German and French conservatives, then, can keep their tea party equivalents out of ruling coalitions most of the time, or to work around them in coalitions.

    That’s the mechanism all right. The result being that the conservatives in Europe and Canada are much less radical than those in the US, and often end up going against the wishes of the rich and powerful even in big issues like progressive taxation and maintaining a public health option (ie fighting against the introduction, but then fighting to maintain them once they’re the status quo).

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  38. george says:

    @anjin-san:

    dipwad

    @Timothy Watson:

    dumbass

    Simply because I commented when someone called Beth a “bitch”, I’ll comment here – resorting to personal insults weakens your arguments. Years of being in engineering design meetings have convinced me its almost always the resort of someone who thinks their arguments can’t stand on their own ground, and need the backup of personal attack.

    And I say that as someone who disagrees with 95% of what Florack says.

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  39. @george: I guess we’re supposed to pat Eric on the head and tell him what a smart little boy he is for, first, lying, and then talking about something that he’s proven that he has absolutely no knowledge of?

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  40. george says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    @george: I guess we’re supposed to pat Eric on the head and tell him what a smart little boy he is for, first, lying, and then talking about something that he’s proven that he has absolutely no knowledge of?

    So refraining from personal insults is equivalent to patting someone on the head and complimenting them?

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  41. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Shorter Jenos: “She’s not on my team, so everything she does sucks!”

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  42. anjin-san says:

    @ george

    With all due respect to your experience, I am confident my argument stands on it’s own. At any rate, “dipwad” & “dumbass’ are much closer to nouns that insults where Florack is concerned.

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  43. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    She took the case on her own.

    Let’s see, she was a young attorney who was new in town, and someone much higher up the food chain in the local legal ecosystem asked her to take the case as a favor, which she did.

    What part of this confuses you?

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  44. David in KC says:

    Not sure if she had much choice on representing him, I’m not going to go look up the rules that were in place at the time, but having been a court appointed attorney in Missouri, I didn’t have a choice, I could and did request to be replaced as I wasn’t working in a law office at the time and the case required a certain amount of resources to properly defend. It wasn’t criminal, but it was a termination of parental rights case and my client had no business being a parent. I handled the initial proceedings until such time as counsel from one of the larger firms in town could be appointed. Did I represent her to the best of my abilities? Yep, did I hold my breath the entire time? Yep. Have I found a sick sense of humor regarding it? That too.

    After that case, since I wasn’t currently practicing law, I went and put my license in an inactive status so that I wouldn’t have to mess with being appointed again. But anyone throwing stones at this, doesn’t know how the system works, was never thrown into the deep end of the pool like this, and apparently doesn’t understand the ethical requirements of the profession.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  45. David in KC says:

    And one more thing, if you think that she did this because she wanted to, do the research and present the argument. Citing a line in an article doesn’t do it. There are laws and cannons of ethics that cover it. General rule is getting out of a case requires the consent of the judge and they don’t just let you off because your client is a scumbag and probably guilty.

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  46. wr says:

    @bill: “what’s surprising is that we never heard of this until now.”

    Yes, it is truly astonshing that we never heard of something so vitally important to her character as a 40 year old case to which she was appointed by the court. I’m still reeling that we don’t yet know what kind of juice and cookies she had in kindergarten and what color dress she wore to her high school prom. We simply must find ways to attack her for every choice she has ever made in her life — how could we let this moments escape us?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  47. wr says:

    @Grewgills: “You have become a parody of your already difficult to parody self.”

    How can you say Florack is difficult to parody when Jenos posts here about a thousand times a day, each one a parody of moronic right wing thinking?

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  48. anjin-san says:

    @ wr

    I have it on good authority that Hillary was a pushy shrew in kindergarten.

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  49. DA says:

    The point of whether she had to take the case, chose to take the case, was appointed by the court or not, believed he was guilty or not, or knew he was guilty or not, should all be completely beside the point. Fundamental to the concept of America is that everyone deserves a defense, even a vigorous defense. Everyone. The idea that someone could be denied a defense because the charges against them are abhorrent, is itself abhorrent. The idea that guilt, and the fate of the defendant, should be determined outside the bounds of the criminal courtroom is deeply un-American. These rules protect the innocent, probably more than they do the guilty, and they must be applied equally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  50. al-Ameda says:

    Oh .. my … god. She was a lawyer, worked in criminal defense, and defended someone who turned out to be a criminal? No way! Please tell me this can’t happen in America, the greatest country in the world.

    Seriously, this is bogey man stuff, akin to telling people that communists are under their beds. Basically, in the pre-election run-up, Republicans are hoping that after they throw this excrement against the wall, some of it will stick to something other than their own clothing.

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  51. PAUL HOOSON says:

    Strangely, when Hillary Clinton was a Barry Goldwater supporting conservative Republican she was just fine with other Republicans. But, since she switched parties and became a Democrat, then now she’s suddenly the spawn of the Devil. – She still has many neocon views, so she has a few political inclinations that never changed. President Obama chose her to deal toughly with rogue nations as the Secretary Of State, where her overall job was very good according to the opinion of most Americans.

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  52. bill says:

    @wr: well, if mitt romney could kill obama’s mother and cut some gay dudes hair in high school then everything’s in play-it is a 2 way street. but back to the “vetting” thing, that’s why this is all coming out now instead of the summer of 2016.

    @anjin-san: “pushy” is ok, “bossy” is out now.

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  53. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David in KC: And one more thing, if you think that she did this because she wanted to, do the research and present the argument. Citing a line in an article doesn’t do it. There are laws and cannons of ethics that cover it. General rule is getting out of a case requires the consent of the judge and they don’t just let you off because your client is a scumbag and probably guilty.

    How about her own words, spoken freely?

    Twenty-seven-year-old Hillary Rodham had just moved to Fayetteville, and was running the University of Arkansas’ newly-formed legal aid clinic, when she received a call from prosecutor Mahlon Gibson.

    “The prosecutor called me a few years ago, he said he had a guy who had been accused of rape, and the guy wanted a woman lawyer,” said Clinton in the interview. “Would I do it as a favor for him?”

    Here’s the audio. Starts around 0:50 in the clip.

    And again, the point so many are raising is NOT that Clinton defended a child rapist, NOT that she did her job as an attorney, but that several years later she found the case LAUGHABLE. I guess sometimes child rape is funny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  54. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: So your point is that a decade after this case, Hillary spoke about it in a way of which you claim to disapprove? Hell, let’s impeach her now. There is no crime greater than not behaving as anonymous internet trolls approve.

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  55. grumpy realist says:

    @Eric Florack: You really don’t know anything about law, do you?

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  56. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: Weren’t you one of the people denouncing Romney for his high-school bullying incident and the “dog on top of the car” story?

    Oh, that’s right. Only Democrats get the benefit of the statute of limitations. And the presumption of innocence.

    Hey, I got a joke for you: Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, and Bryan Singer walk into a pre-school…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  57. al-Ameda says:

    … the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative online publication that has gained significant traction on that side of the aisle in the past year or so …”

    So, which conservative online publications have fallen out of favor on that side of the aisle’?

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  58. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Of course for you it is

    Oh, that’s right. Only Democrats Republicans get the benefit of the statute of limitations. And the presumption of innocence.

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  59. anjin-san says:

    his high-school bullying incident

    Because an attorney providing a US citizen with the defense he is legally entitled to is exactly like a bunch of guys terrorizing a weaker kid.

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  60. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Hey, I got a joke for you: Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, and Bryan Singer walk into a pre-school…”

    “…and each of them makes a series of powerful, brilliant, important movies which represent a substantial contribution to their culture, despite nasty little trolls who — in the case of the latter two — seize on every unsubstantiated piece of gossip they can find to tear down anyone who has actually accomplished something in their lives in a desperate hope to make themselves feel like they have any kind of impact on the world.”

    Yeah, it’s a good one, all right!

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  61. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: ” Weren’t you one of the people denouncing Romney for his high-school bullying incident and the “dog on top of the car” story?”

    I don’t know — was I? I suppose if I were like you I’d start humping my computer like a dog on a leg and whining “prove it, prove it, prove it” and digging through the archives of the messages I’ve posted here since they would be the only thing I’d contributed to the world in all that time.

    But I’m not like you. If you want to slither around claiming that you’ve caught me in some kind of inconsistency, knock yourself out. I don’t actually recall ever criticizing anyone for using the wrong tone of voice 40 years ago, but maybe I’m wrong. Feel free to spend as much of your oh-so valuable time trying to figure it all out.

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