October 24, 2008
Letter to the Editor of the Dispatch
The following letter was recently submitted to The Columbus Dispatch admonishing the campaign ads attacking John Carney for his representation of doctors. The ads have caused a great deal of discussion among the legal community as an unjust attack upon every person’s right to legal representation. While the Columbus Bar takes no position in a political race, the letter reinforces the Association’s commitment to preserving the integrity of our system of justice.
The Columbus Bar Association applauds the recent Dispatch editorial, “Into the Mud,” which calls attention to the misleading and unfair political attacks on attorney John Carney based on the perceived corruption of some of his clients. Attorney Carney’s role and professional duty is to provide legal representation to his clients, even if their cause is unpopular or community reaction might be adverse. An attack on Mr. Carney’s work as a professional, or the work of any lawyer serving clients, strikes at the very heart of our system of justice and cannot be tolerated.
Since its founding in 1869, the Columbus Bar Association has stood up for the right – indeed, the sworn duty – of lawyers to perform the role assigned to them in our system of justice, even if that involves the representation of unpopular causes or unsavory clients. Our system of adversarial justice can only function correctly when all sides to a dispute have capable counsel to effectively present their case to a fact-finding tribunal. That is why the Columbus Bar must speak out concerning the advertisements that attack attorney Carney, claiming that he is somehow unfit for office, merely because he has defended doctors who have been charged with misconduct. This type of political attack, smearing the candidate-lawyer with the alleged bad actions of a client, is, as the Dispatch has forcefully made clear, “unethical” and unconscionable.
The Columbus Bar takes no sides in political contests. Its only interest is in making sure the public sees attacks on the professional role of lawyers like John Carney for what they really are. They are nothing short of bare opportunism. As the Columbus Bar has said before, “[c]asting the shadows of doubt on an attorney-candidate simply because he or she has represented an unpopular client or point of view in a court of law is harmful to the court, to the election process and ultimately to the public interest.” No candidate in any political race should unfairly impugn the integrity of an opponent for exercising his or her professional duties as an attorney.
President Elect, Columbus Bar Association