Archive for Sunday, November 11, 2001

Clinton resigns from Supreme Court bar

November 11, 2001

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— Former President Clinton asked to resign from the Supreme Court bar Friday, rather than fight suspension or disbarment related to the Paula Jones sexual harassment investigation.

The high court suspended Clinton Oct. 1 as a follow-up to suspension of his law license in his home state of Arkansas. The high court gave Clinton until Friday to say why he should not be permanently barred from appearing before the high court as a lawyer.

Clinton lawyer David Kendall, in a letter to the court clerk, linked Clinton's request to the loss of his Arkansas law license.

On Jan. 19, a day before he left office, Clinton agreed to a 5-year suspension of the license and a $25,000 fine as part of a settlement that ended the Monica Lewinsky investigation. Independent Counsel Robert Ray agreed not to prosecute Clinton after he left office.

The agreement also satisfied the legal effort by the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct to disbar Clinton for giving misleading testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

"In order to avoid the burden of litigation for all parties, to achieve an expeditious and definitive resolution, and in acknowledgment that his actions merited censure, former President Clinton agreed to the suspension and fine," Kendall wrote Friday.

The high court could act on Clinton's request as soon as Tuesday.

Supreme Court disbarment typically follows disbarment in lower courts, and is considered final. In a few cases, lawyers who have successfully regained their law licenses in lower courts have successfully won reinstatement at the Supreme Court. Likewise, Clinton could reapply if he regains his law license, in Arkansas or elsewhere, and keeps it blemish-free for three years.

Membership in the Supreme Court bar is largely ceremonial, but is regarded as an honor among lawyers.Clinton was admitted to the Supreme Court bar in 1977, when he was Arkansas attorney general.

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