Court Committee: Clinton Should be Disbarred for his 'Serious Misconduct' in Paula Jones Case

Published May 23rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A majority of the panelists who met Friday to consider two complaints against Clinton found that the president should be disciplined for false testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, the Supreme Court said in releasing the committee's recommendation, according to the Associated Press Monday.  

Clinton's attorney David Kendall promised to challenge the decision.  

"This recommendation is wrong and clearly contradicted by precedent. We will vigorously dispute it in a court of law," Kendall said in a statement distributed by the White House.  

Clinton told NBC News that he will not personally defend himself at the disbarment proceedings because it would interfere with his duties as president.  

"When I'm not president anymore, I'll be happy to defend myself," he said.  

Under the rules of the Committee of Professional Conduct, the disbarment recommendation goes to a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge in Little Rock for consideration. If a judge at the circuit court level disbars Clinton, the president can appeal to the state Supreme Court.  

The Southeastern Legal Foundation had filed papers seeking Clinton's disbarment. The AP said also that US District Judge Susan Webber Wright forwarded a complaint to the committee - stemming from the Jones case, saying he lied when he denied a sexual relationship with Lewinsky during a sworn deposition in January 1998.  

Wright also cited Clinton for civil contempt and fined him $90,000 for giving "intentionally false" testimony. She has not spoken about the case since citing Clinton on April 12, 1999.  

The foundation wanted Clinton disbarred and Wright did not suggest a specific penalty; Clinton had asked for a penalty no harsher than a reprimand.  

Southeastern Legal Foundation director Matt Glavin said Monday afternoon he was pleased at the committee's quick action - which he said was proof that the system works.  

"This is the first time a sitting president in U.S. history faces disbarment proceedings ... [the] decision sends a clear message to the American people that the rules which govern attorney conduct will be enforced," Glavin said.  

The committee has 14 full-time members - lawyers and lay people - who sit in panels of seven. Because of Clinton's widespread connections throughout the state, eight of the panelists bowed out before Friday's regular committee meeting.  

Of the six who heard Clinton's case, five are practicing lawyers and the sixth is a retired school teacher.  

The action against Clinton marks the third form of punishment the president has faced for his false testimony in the Jones case. He was impeached by the House, then acquitted at a Senate trial. And a federal judge fined him after finding him in contempt of court.  

The president has insisted that he did not lie when he denied having a sexual relationship with Lewinsky; he has said that the relationship did not meet the definition of sex that was given at the start of the deposition.  

Clinton has been a lawyer for more than 25 years and taught at the University of Arkansas law school. He has not practiced since the early 1980s, between his first and second terms as Arkansas governor.  

Clinton was governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, and again from 1983 until he was elected president in 1992 – Albawaba.com  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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