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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

 
Morning Joe should not be casting stones

by digby

Apparently Joe Scarborough was very upset to learn the Hillary Clinton once defended a rapist in her early career as a lawyer when she was assigned the case by a judge. He said:
“Hillary Clinton chose to do this,” he snapped. “This completely changes the conversation.”

Scarborough pointed out that many other female lawyers would not take the case. “And furthermore, I’m sure they wouldn’t brag about getting this child rapist a plea deal,” he said. ”[She] also suggested she knew he was lying because he passed a polygraph test.”

“This is really troubling Mark, on many layers.”
How interesting that Scarborough has such high standards for what cases defense attorneys should take. Especially considering his own record. This story is from 2009, right after Dr George Tiller was murdered in Kansas:
In 1993, David Gunn was killed in Pensacola, Florida, and Michael Griffin, an anti-abortion zealot, was accused of the crime. (Griffin was later convicted and jailed.) And Scarborough -- who the following year would run for Congress as a Republican abortion foe -- made several court appearances, pro bono, on Griffin's behalf.

Speaking this morning on Morning Joe, Scarborough didn't mention having represented Griffin. Rather, he said he was asked by Griffin's family, who knew his own family, to find a lawyer for Griffin. ("The family hired me and they wanted me to find him a lawyer, to make sure he didn't use the Bible as his self-defense in court," he said) He implied that a number of people expressed interest in taking on the case in order because of its political implications ("for all the wrong reasons") and that he was wary of such people. Eventually, he said, he found a "progressive, pro-choice" lawyer who nonetheless understood that everyone has the right to counsel. Scarborough went on to talk about the need to return to civility in American politics.

But when the Village Voice dug into the episode for a cover story on Scarborough last year, it found evidence suggesting Scarborough had sought to play a large role in the case.

Despite Scarborough's claim that he was merely trying to find a lawyer for Griffin, the paper reported:

Griffin already had a court-appointed attorney, and when that attorney made a motion to substitute Scarborough at a June hearing, Scarborough said: "I understand that I come in this case if another attorney is not brought on board, that I will be responsible for representing Mr. Griffin at trial."
In fact, Scarborough began representing Griffin shortly after the March murder and didn't find a trial lawyer, Bob Kerrigan, until late June, when he wrote a letter withdrawing from the case.

And Griffin himself told the the Voice, in a letter written from prison, that he signed papers, brought to him by Kerrigan and Scarborough, that would have kept Scarborough on as co-counsel, until a judge rejected the plan. The Voice continued:

According to Griffin, Joe told him "several times" that he would represent him at trial and that he "had three friends still in law school who would help him," adding: "I have an exact memory on this point." read on ...
Scarborough had a perfect right to step up and represent an accused murderer pro-bono. Much of our legal system relies on such arrangements. But he should be careful about trying to split hairs over Hillary Clinton's decades ago court mandated duty. It's pretty clear that Scarborough's actions in this murder case were far more questionable --- and recent --- than Clinton's.


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