LITTLE ROCK, ARK. President Clinton said Tuesday that he should not be disbarred concerning testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, telling a judge that losing his 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 he would not receive such a stiff sanction if his case was handled like similar cases.
"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.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Leon Johnson said he expected to receive Clinton's filing Tuesday but otherwise would not discuss the case, including when it might be scheduled for a hearing or trial.
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. Jones' lawyers asked the president about Lewinsky while a federal judge presided over his deposition.
In a lawsuit filed against Clinton June 30, the conduct committee's prosecutor accused the president of lying to spare himself embarrassment. In the response filed Tuesday, Clinton's lawyers acknowledged that the president was attempting to save face.
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.
Matt Glavin, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which had asked for Clinton's disbarment, said after Tuesday's filing that the proposed sanctions were not too harsh.
"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."