This morning I published an article in which I disapproved of an ad run by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) which condemned State Senate candidate David Storobin for publishing on his law firm’s website a laundry list of Federal crimes for which the firm provided representation.
That list included:
“Child Pornography - possession and distribution
Computer Child Pornography - downloading, possession, distribution”
The ad accused Storobin of representing such clients.
Part of my concern was that that accusation was based upon flimsy evidence and may have been untrue:
While it can be argued that Storobin is seeking business from those accused of possession and distribution and downloading of child pornography (you would think he would have scrubbed his ad in the same manner he scrubbed his blog posts), there seems to be no proof Storobin ever actually represented such people (Seems to me if one were going to go down this road, which I would not, it would be better to focus on something verifiable, like the guide Storobin published on how to discredit police testimony in drunken driving cases).
This morning, Storobin admitted that the accusation was true.
But as I said:
“But what if Storobin really does represent such people?
What happened to the presumption of innocence and due process?”
I don’t generally believe in judging criminal lawyers by their clientele; some attorneys represent anyone in need of counsel as a matter of personal principle; others are just amoral or have hungry children.
There are exceptions; Lynne Stewart was not amoral, her children were grown and she did not, as a matter of personal principle, deign to represent just anyone who was in need of counsel.
Her principles were like those of her ex-partner, William Kuntsler. Ms. Stewart was the sort of radical lawyer who only represented those she loved, and in the case which led to her conviction, she loved a scumbag, and apparently went far beyond the bounds of the ethics of her profession in expressing that love.
I am inclined to judge with favor all those who will represent anyone in need as a matter of principal. I feel free to judge favorably or harshly, those who represent only those they love, based upon their choices.
There is no evidence that Mr. Storobin represents only those he loves, and no evidence (and substantial evidence to the contrary) that he loves helping the indigent. Like most of us, he goes to work to make money.
Therefore, as someone who feels the legal system is mostly a noble thing, and that it only works when everyone can obtain vigorous representation, I cannot condemn Mr. Storobin for representing those charged with the possession, distribution and downloading of child pornography.
Therefore, I am inclined to believe that questions about his clientele have no place in this campaign.
Though I also respect the position of those lawyers who says “He has a right to counsel, but he doesn’t have a right to my counsel,” I do not believe it is a standard to which we should hold candidates for office, provided, they respect the ethics of their profession.
As such, I am somewhat troubled by Storobin’s authorized statement from his spokesman:
“For the record, during his career David has defended exactly one person who committed a sex crime involving child pornography. That person pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, received a 12 year sentence and is in currently jail where he belongs.”
There seems to me to be an insinuation here that Storobin deserves some sort of credit for steering his client into a long sentence.
Why would Storobin have his spokesman make such a statement about a former client?
Is Storobin trying to say he did not advocate zealously for this client?
Is Storobin trying to imply that he betrayed his professional ethics and deserves extra credit and commendation for it?
While not as troubling as the charge against his client, Storobin’s spokesman’s authorized statement is at least as troubling as the efforts by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to make this representation an issue in the race.
For a rare moment, David Storobin had been given an opportunity to occupy the moral high ground.
Why was he so ashamed of this?