Hillary As Rapist's Defense Lawyer: Is It Relevant?

Ian Jeffrey

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Mar 2013
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OK hypothetical here. Suppose you have someone convicted of a crime. Can his lawyer then go on tv and say "He totally did it."
Could she? Well, since he's been convicted, he's "did it" as a matter of law. Are you talking about revealing confidential communications, or stating an opinion?

You should also remember that, in Clinton's case, not only is the case almost certainly outside the statute of limitations, such that it couldn't be used against the former client on grounds of subject-matter jurisdiction, but because of the evidentiary rule for attorney-client privilege the statement wouldn't be usable anyway even if inside the statute of limitations.

But she was a lawyer when she gave the interview. I think it's fair to expect someone to abide the ethical rules of a profession while they are practicing it and fair for people to judge their character afterwards by how well they maintained those ethics.
She is bound by the duty of confidentiality whether she still practices or not, even if she no longer is admitted to practice law (e.g., she let her membership lapse due to not practicing anymore). But offering an opinion does not violate the ethical rules.

I understand the difference between legal and factual guilt. But if you ask a client something, don't you need them to answer openly and honestly?
The ethical rule of confidentiality, and the evidentiary rule of attorney-client privilege, are designed so the client will do so, yes. But that doesn't mean they're going to do so. And there are times when those rules may not apply, anyway, though they are quite few.

But remember ... she did not divulge any confidential communications; she only offered an opinion. It may not seem different to you, but as a legal and ethical matter it makes a huge difference.
 
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Macduff

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Could she? Well, since he's been convicted, he's "did it" as a matter of law. Are you talking about revealing confidential communications, or stating an opinion?

You should also remember that, in Clinton's case, not only is the case almost certainly outside the statute of limitations, such that it couldn't be used against the former client on grounds of subject-matter jurisdiction, but because of the evidentiary rule for attorney-client privilege the statement wouldn't be usable anyway even if inside the statute of limitations.
He was convicted of a lesser charge, not rape. And is the statute of limitations that relevant here?
but for the purposes of the hypothetical (and you don't have to picture Clinton here), wouldn't stating an opinion that a client is factually guilty, no matter what the verdict, be a breach of ethics. This is someone who is supposed to be an advocate. Does that end? Even after the official representation is over. Even hypothetically after the death of the client.


She is bound by the duty of confidentiality whether she still practices or not, even if she no longer is admitted to practice law (e.g., she let her membership lapse due to not practicing anymore). But offering an opinion does not violate the ethical rules.
I don't think anyone is calling for any kind of official sanction here, being as you pointed out that it's not even possible. But it's still something the public can use to judge her fitness for office.


The ethical rule of confidentiality, and the evidentiary rule of attorney-client privilege, are designed so the client will do so, yes. But that doesn't mean they're going to do so. And there are times when those rules may not apply, anyway, though they are quite few.

But remember ... she did not divulge any confidential communications; she only offered an opinion. It may not seem different to you, but as a legal and ethical matter it makes a huge difference.
One of those times being if a future crime was being commissioned. Or if the client releases the attorney from attorney client confidentiality.
And it seems like the topic of the opinion here is pretty important. It's not like her opinion was that Taylor's jokes weren't funny or he didn't have great personal hygiene. A publicly given opinion as to whether or not a client actually committed a crime seems like that's pretty germane as far as a defense attorney goes.
 

Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
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Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
He was convicted of a lesser charge, not rape. And is the statute of limitations that relevant here?
Yes, the SOL on rape would be the relevant one. (Isn't it great that the initials for "statute of limitations" is "SOL"?) But even if it was within the statute, dropping the rape charge was part of the deal by which he plead guilty to the lesser charge to begin with. A deal's a deal, no take-backs just because your evidence gets better later. And, because of privilege, the statement would be excludable anyway. (Keep in mind the difference between confidentiality and privilege.)

But for the purposes of the hypothetical (and you don't have to picture Clinton here), wouldn't stating an opinion that a client is factually guilty, no matter what the verdict, be a breach of ethics.
Stating an opinion? No, I can't think of an ethical rule that violates. It's certainly bad business (and obviously can cause you problems later)....

This is someone who is supposed to be an advocate. Does that end? Even after the official representation is over. Even hypothetically after the death of the client.
Yes, representation ends when it ends. Confidentiality does not, though, even after the client dies.

Note, however, that in some circumstances a court order can compel a breach of confidentiality, which at least helps shield the lawyer from an ethics violation. I represented a lawyer in one such instance, where the state in a criminal prosecution subpoenaed a document from the lawyer (which the lawyer had possession of by virtue of a civil case with the client), and the lawyer wanted to quash* the subpoena. The AAG requested a hearing before the judge, and we appeared, and I objected to the subpoena as it would require the attorney to violate confidentiality to the client's detriment. The judge understood, and agreed that if it were her, she'd be there with her lawyer, too. In order to protect the other lawyer, she issued the court order requiring the document to be turned over, and it was, and everything was fine.

* I once heard someone use the word "squash" instead - which still kinda fits.

{I}t's still something the public can use to judge her fitness for office.
Well, that's a rather broad brush. You can use just about anything in that fashion, if you can make it stick politically. But confidentiality has not been breached, because she only expressed an opinion.

One of those times being if a future crime was being commissioned. Or if the client releases the attorney from attorney client confidentiality.
Certainly, with a release from the client, information can be released. But not all future crimes. If a guy tells me he intends to shoplift from the grocery store, I could report it, but I'm under no obligation to do so. If he says he actually intends to kill the store manager, however, I have an ethical obligation to report it.

A publicly given opinion as to whether or not a client actually committed a crime seems like that's pretty germane as far as a defense attorney goes.
Germane to what?
 
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I have a real problem with the bashing going on as to Hillary Clinton's handling of the defense of a child rape defendant in the 1970's. The victim herself has been heard to say that she felt Hillary lied on her in court and found the experience brutalizing. Hillary herself is heard on tape to say she felt her client was guilty and laughing about how she was able to get him a (very reduced) sentence.

Hillary Clinton LAUGHS as she recalls how she helped 'child rapist' walk free | Mail Online

Do you react to this news as a parent? As a conservative or liberal? As a feminist (or not)?

I am all those things, but I am also proud of our system of justice. The duty of a defense lawyer is single-minded: to advocate for her client. (There are limits imposed because all lawyers are officers of the court, but they are not in tension with that duty.) The judge, the prosecutor and the jury are all duty-bound to search for the truth. The defense lawyer is not; she is there is protect her client and force the state to prove its case.

No doubt, Hillary WAS brutal to this child victim, and no doubt, she is still suffering from those memories all these years later. In the 1970's, sex crimes victims were not adequately protected from abusive cross-examination and children suffered from this most of all. But whatever the rules were then, Hillary should have gone to the wall for her client regardless of her own personal sense of right and wrong, guilt or innocence. And she did.

I am not a supporter of this woman. And one of my big complaints about her is that she has never been what I would call a feminist. Much I would love it if someone emerged from her past and made career-ending accusations against her, in this case, I think she is without blame.

What say you? Does this story alter the way you see this woman?
It stinks, but that's the Law. She will handle this in the Presidential race and pass with flying colors. Besides, every candidate will have something to answer for in their past. Just a part of the process. Actually, I'm excited about hearing from her. She will have her gun loaded. The other candidates better "pack a high energy lunch!" She is "tough as a two dollar steak!"
 
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Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
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Irrelevant.

She is going to get hit by this and in a very big way.

Defending a child rapist is not a positive thing in politics.
Very astute point.

Does this apply to our current Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta? I just saw Trump on television defending him by saying "he was just doing his job". Trump didn't seem to feel the same way about Hillary Clinton defending Kathy Shelton's rapist, he even included her in this photo op:



She's the one in blue, sitting right next to Trump. Maybe the Democratic candidate for president should should recreate this sort of photo with some of the victims of Epstein's crimes. After all, Trump was fully aware of Acosta's role in getting Epstein off (no pun intended) when he nominated him for a cabinet position.
 
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Jul 2016
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I have a real problem with the bashing going on as to Hillary Clinton's handling of the defense of a child rape defendant in the 1970's. The victim herself has been heard to say that she felt Hillary lied on her in court and found the experience brutalizing. Hillary herself is heard on tape to say she felt her client was guilty and laughing about how she was able to get him a (very reduced) sentence.

Hillary Clinton LAUGHS as she recalls how she helped 'child rapist' walk free | Mail Online

Do you react to this news as a parent? As a conservative or liberal? As a feminist (or not)?

I am all those things, but I am also proud of our system of justice. The duty of a defense lawyer is single-minded: to advocate for her client. (There are limits imposed because all lawyers are officers of the court, but they are not in tension with that duty.) The judge, the prosecutor and the jury are all duty-bound to search for the truth. The defense lawyer is not; she is there is protect her client and force the state to prove its case.

No doubt, Hillary WAS brutal to this child victim, and no doubt, she is still suffering from those memories all these years later. In the 1970's, sex crimes victims were not adequately protected from abusive cross-examination and children suffered from this most of all. But whatever the rules were then, Hillary should have gone to the wall for her client regardless of her own personal sense of right and wrong, guilt or innocence. And she did.

I am not a supporter of this woman. And one of my big complaints about her is that she has never been what I would call a feminist. Much I would love it if someone emerged from her past and made career-ending accusations against her, in this case, I think she is without blame.

What say you? Does this story alter the way you see this woman?
There's a lot more to the story...

Clinton's 1975 Rape Case - FactCheck.org

Clinton’s 1975 Rape Case
By Ilana Nathans
Posted on June 17, 2016 | Updated on October 19, 2016
1.2K
Q: Did Hillary Clinton volunteer in 1975 to defend a rapist, who was found not guilty, and laugh about it in an interview in 1980?
A: Clinton defended an accused rapist, but she did not volunteer. He pleaded guilty to a lesser offense. She laughed when recalling unusual aspects of the case.


FULL QUESTION
Did Hillary Clinton volunteer to defend a child rapist in 1975, accuse the 12-year-old victim of fantasizing about older men, later state that she knew he was guilty but got the charges dropped and laugh?
FULL ANSWER
In 1975, Hillary Clinton — then known as Hillary Rodham — taught at the University of Arkansas School of Law, where she founded the University of Arkansas School Legal Aid Clinic. It was during this time that she defended Thomas Alfred Taylor, a 41-year-old man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl.
In her book “Living History,” Clinton recalls that Mahlon Gibson, a Washington County prosecutor, told her that the accused rapist “wanted a woman lawyer” to defend him, and that Gibson had recommended Clinton to Judge Maupin Cummings. “I told Mahlon I really didn’t feel comfortable taking on such a client, but Mahlon gently reminded me that I couldn’t very well refuse the judge’s request.”
Gibson corroborated Clinton’s story in a 2014 interview with CNN.
CNN, June 25, 2014: Gibson said Clinton called him shortly after the judge assigned her to the case and said, “I don’t want to represent this guy. I just can’t stand this. I don’t want to get involved. Can you get me off?”
“I told her, ‘Well contact the judge and see what he says about it,’ but I also said don’t jump on him and make him mad,” Gibson said. “She contacted the judge and the judge didn’t remove her and she stayed on the case.”​
 
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There is a rule in politics we study that says you can do anything as a politician. You can cheat, do drugs, break laws and people will forgive you.

The two things they do not forgive however is getting caught in a straight up lie or anything to do regarding violating children. The fact that Hillary is tied to something like this is beyond bad for her political career.

Just wait for those ads to come out showing a picture of a broken child and the words "Hillary Clinton defended child rape".

Its just extremely bad for her.

Filed for future reference...
 
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Blueneck

Former Staff
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Why was this thread bumped?
To make a point about how Trump is excusing Acosta's failure to properly prosecute Epstein as "just doing his job", while he excoriated HRC for having defended Kathy Shelton's rapist, which actually was her job at the time.

And how strongly some people felt about that at the time.
 
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