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Clinton: Don't Disbar Me August 31, 2000 7:15 am EST
His Lawyers Say Punishment Would Be Too Harsh
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., AUG. 29, 2000 (CBS News) - President Clinton said Tuesday he should not be disbarred over his testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, telling a state judge that losing his law license is too harsh a penalty.
In a five-page response to a complaint filed by the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct, the president said that court precedents in Arkansas would prohibit a stiff sanction.
"On the basis of the relevant facts, the governing law and the applicable decisions of the Arkansas courts ..., a sanction of disbarment would be excessively harsh, impermissibly punitive and unprecedented in the circumstances of this case," Clinton's lawyers wrote.
Matt Glavin, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation of Atlanta, said after Clinton's response was filed that the conduct committee's proposed sanctions were not too harsh for the president.
"In fact, they are precisely what the American Bar Association recommends based on this behavior," Glavin said.
"Honesty and candor are absolute prerequisites in our bar," Glavin said. "The Supreme Court has made it clear what's required for membership in the Arkansas bar. Mr. Clinton doesn't meet those standards."
The state conduct committee says the president lied about his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky when asked about it, under oath, in January 1998.
The president's lawyers agreed with the state's claim that Clinton was trying to save face when asked about Lewinsky.
Clinton "took actions motivated in part by a desire to protect himself and others from embarrassment," the lawyers wrote.
A federal judge found Clinton in contempt and fined him more than $90,000, saying he intentionally gave misleading testimony while she presided over the deposition.
Clinton's lawyers also acknowledged that the president didn't fight the contempt citation, but said he did not do so because the needs of the country came first.
Jones filed suit in May 1994, alleging Clinton made a crude sexual advance toward her three years earlier in a Little Rock hotel room. Jones had hoped to use evidence of the Lewinsky affair as part of an attempt to show a pattern of predatory behavior.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, however, said the Lewinsky material was not essential to Jones' case, and later dismissed Jones' lawsuit.
Clinton's lawyers said Tuesday that the testimony at the center of the disbarment lawsuit was so minor that stripping the president of his law license would be too severe of a penalty.
-- cpr (email@example.com), August 31, 2000