The Bold Contempt for the Courts

By Pruden, Wesley | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 1, 1996 | Go to article overview

The Bold Contempt for the Courts


Pruden, Wesley, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


You've got to give the Clintons credit for gall. They're treating a federal judge here with the same contemptuous arrogance they've showered on the federal courts in Arkansas.

At home, they had the help of the ethically challenged Henry Woods, the most famous grand jury fixer in Arkansas politics before the Stephens brothers maneuvered him onto the federal bench in Little Rock.

Judge Woods, 77, is an old friend of Hillary's, and long ago fell under her spell in the way that an old man sometimes falls when a young woman bats her baby blues (or warm browns) and pats his hand in a certain way. He can't muster lechery so much as a harmless recollection of "the way we were." Judge Woods escaped going to prison once himself, so he no doubt has authentic sympathy for someone in Hillary's size-9 1/2 flats. An appeals court took a Whitewater-related case away from him after he tried to trash Kenneth Starr's investigation of Bonnie and Clod and their felonious friends.

When John Huang, assigned to collect millions in campaign contributions from well-connected foreigners who need chits to cash for Clinton favors, got in trouble, the Clintons figured to moon the federal judges here just as they have done down home.

You can't blame them for trying, and Judge Royce Lamberth is not yet the John Sirica the ballooning Clinton scandals - pick a -gate, any -gate - cry out for. The late Mr. Sirica was derided as "Maximum John" when he cracked down hard on the Watergate defendants a quarter of a century ago, but it was his no-nonsense approach to law enforcement that finally got the attention of the Watergate principals.

Mr. Huang's lawyer, in a performance obviously choreographed by the White House, brazenly mocked Judge Lamberth when he inquired where Mr. Huang was after he defied a subpoena day after day. "Is he within a hundred miles of the court?" he asked. Replied John Keeney Jr.: "I don't have an atlas."

Some judges, jealous of the respect the courts are entitled to, would have jailed the lawyer on the spot to get his attention, his client, and his regret for contempt of court by protecting a fugitive. Mr. Keeney knows that judges, who are lawyers after all, rarely hold lawyers to the same stern standard they impose on the rest of us. He was confident he could get by with playing fast and loose with the subpoena.

Hillary, despite all the speculation that she's auditioning criminal lawyers for employment after the election, is just as cocky as her husband. …

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