April 22, 2000, - 10:31 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Someone once said lawyers are like bread. They’re best when they’re young and new. Thereafter, they become more stale and moldy by the minute.
Exhibit A: two crusty, old lawyers in the news–Greg Craig and Attorney General Janet Reno.
Reno violated the law, with the illegal break-in that she and Craig orchestrated in Miami. But even worse, Craig severely violated the ethics rules governing attorneys, in a case involving life under freedom versus life under tyranny.
And for that, he should be disbarred.
In his conduct as the attorney of Juan Miguel Gonzalez (Elian’s father), Craig–a member of the District of Columbia Bar and a partner at the Williams & Connolly law firm– violated multiple canons in the Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys in the District.
Rules 1.7 through 1.9, governing conflicts of interest, clearly state that a lawyer may not engage in the kind of representation that Craig is engaging in, here:
A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client. . . .
Craig was Bill Clinton’s personal attorney in the Lewinsky/Impeachment matter. The same Bill Clinton who wants to open up trade to Cuba. And this little fly, called Elian, is in the ointment. Craig was also a director of policy planning to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, one of the top positions setting foreign policy at the State Department. The foreign policy at the same State Department that’s crawling with Castrophile bureaucrats who’d love to open trade with Cuba while its people suffer in tyranny. Craig also serves on the board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The same Carnegie Endowment that wants to end the embargo with Cuba, so that its wealthy, elitist members, like Craig, might freely smoke a Cuban cigar.
So does Greg Craig have a conflict of interest in representing anyone but Castro in this whole Elian saga? Ya think! What if Juan Miguel really wants to defect? Does anyone really think Craig would do what was in his client’s best interest to make that happen? A poor Cuban guy versus the leader of the free, capitalist world and the leader of the captive cigar world. Hmmm. . . Which side do you think Craig is picking? He’s got no business representing anyone in this case.
Then, there’s the problem of payment:
A lawyer shall not accept compensation for representing a client from one other than the client unless . . . there is no interference with the lawyer’s independence of professional judgment or with the client-lawyer relationship.
Well, gee, isn’t Craig’s bill being picked up by the government of Castro . . . oops, I mean the National Council of Churches(NCC)? Yup, that’s the problem. Nobody’s coming clean about who’s paying Craig’s bill. Probably because, as it’s been rumored, Castro’s been giving the money to the NCC and using the organization as his willing shill. Either way, these two despicable entities–Castro and the NCC–have an agenda. An agenda that’s anti-freedom, pro-tyranny, and 180 degrees from what’s in the best interest of Juan Miguel. And it’s clear that Craig is taking his direction from them, not his client. Clearly grounds for disbarment.
And that’s not all.
I haven’t forgotten Elian, himself. But apparently Craig has. Rules 4.1 through 4.4 deal with an attorney’s transactions with persons other than clients. Elian is not Craig’s client, and because he’s a minor with different interests than Juan Miguel, a minor without the capacity to understand the adversarial nature of encounters with his father’s attorney, Elian is entitled to his own attorney–a point made by conservative legal minds like . . . Alan Dershowitz? Since, ostensibly, Elian doesn’t have his own attorney, Craig violated ethics governing dealings with unrepresented parties.
And it can be argued that Elian is already represented by counsel, attorneys Spencer Eig et. al., who were representing not just the Miami family, but also, and specifically, Elian–in filing Elian’s petition for asylum. In that case, Craig had no right to contact Elian without Eig’s consent, constituting improper communication with a represented party.
And Craig violated several rules by orchestrating the raid on the Miami house. Because Reno and her government agent thugs acted as de facto judges in making their decision with regard to custody (in contravention of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals) in seizing the boy, Craig’s communication with Reno constitutes an illegal, ex-parte (one-sided, one-party) communication. Not to mention that it violates ethics rules prohibiting a lawyer’s use of methods of obtaining evidence that violates the legal rights of third parties–Elian and the Miami family. And what about the Court Order allowing this raid to happen? Craig was, likely, in on it, but the Miami family’s attorneys were not and were thus prevented from presenting their case to the ill-informed judge who signed the Order. Yet, another illegal, ex-parte act. But who’s counting?
Craig sent a letter to media outlets just prior to the raid–implicating his role in it, and asked the media to refrain from covering any such event. Doesn’t Craig know that, other than to announce the filing of a lawsuit, a lawyer is prohibited from contacting or soliciting the media in an ongoing lawsuit? And they call this guy a lawyer?! Pretty dumb for a Harvard AND Yale grad.
The fact is, Craig has played fast and loose with the law–with the rules–for some time. After all, his most famous client lied, and he defended it. He ridiculed the Clinton Impeachment panel for charging Clinton with lying. For that lying, Clinton is now about to be disbarred. While working for Ted Kennedy, he pushed the world to divest from and impose sanctions on South Africa. But Cuba, what a great country to trade with! In coordinating Clinton’s non-policy on Tibet, Craig “smoothed over” Tibetan protests over oppression by the Chinese, so his Boss-in-Chief could hold two garish summits with the Chinese oppressors. This is the Craig-Clinton version of justice.
Craig makes much of his representation of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. But lifting an old guy from tyranny does not allow you to dump a young kid back into it. Solzhenitsyn would never support sending Elian back. And Castro would never support guys like Craig on Cuban soil. Castro threw lawyers who represented pro-democracy Cubans (whose only crime was speech) into the same torturous Cuban prisons with their clients. And Craig represented John Hinckley, Jr., Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin. Can you imagine what Castro would do to a man who represented his attempted murderer?
Shakespeare said: First, we kill all the lawyers.
Marisleysis and Lazarro Gonzalez can’t do that Greg Craig. But they can continue their fight for Elian’s freedom in the legal system.
And they can and should seek Greg Craig’s disbarment.
Anyone can file a grievance against him with the DC Bar for his actions in this case. And if the Miami family doesn’t. Maybe someone else will.
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