The vast right-wing conspiracy has succeeded in reopening mainstream media discussion of Hillary Clinton’s role as a court-appointed lawyer in defense of a man accused of raping a 12-year-old in Fayetteville 39 years ago. She plea-bargained a short sentence for the man.
She’s given her first interview on the topic this year — the issue was plumbed in some depth in her 2008 presidential campaign and the elements of her response already were clear. But, she told Mumsnet, a British website, as reported in the New York Times:
“I asked to be relieved of that responsibility, but I was not, and I had a professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did.”
The victim in the case, who didn’t criticize Clinton when interviewed in 2008, has said in an interview this year that Clinton took her through hell. Regrettably, challenging a victim’s credibility is part of the job of being a defense lawyer. It is hard on the victim, but it is the lawyer’s obligation. A defendant, even an obviously heinous one, is constitutionally entitled to a legal defense. But, as several articles have noted recently (and it was an issue in a recent Arkansas Supreme Court race), acting as a defense lawyer has become a ripe source of political opponent attacks, ethical obligation or no.
Earlier reporting by Michael Cook supported Clinton’s statement that she didn’t want to represent the defendant but had no choice. He demanded a female attorney. She was one of a very few female lawyers in Washington County at the time. The judge refused to release her from the appointment, the prosecutor said.