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HORNSTEIN_FINALMENTE.DOC

11/12/2003 3:26 PM

2003]

THE POLITICS OF EQUAL JUSTICE

1103

So can anyone seriously dispute the vital importance of legal

counsel?

There would

agreement

on this issue.

seem to be The dispute,

almost universal bi-partisan however, seems to arise over

how the the use

poor’s legal counsel is paid. Which leads us to of other people’s money, either through the

ask use

whether of legal

defense funds or campaign federal funds to secure equal

funds, is more principled than access to the courts for America’s

using poor?

Certainly a ready distinction can be drawn between the funds, but just beyond this distinction lies rank political

sources of

the

hypocrisy.

It’s

unlikely any Congress to contribute because

member’s he might

campaign literature implores need money to have counsel

citizens if he is

indicted or accused of unethical conduct. The of Congress can successfully raise funds for a

only

reason members

legal

defense fund is

because of their status as elected federal officials. Would knowingly contribute money to help private citizen Wes

defend his war record? Or help relationship with Chandra Levy?

Gary

Condit

avoid

scrutiny

anyone Cooley over his

The importance of legal counsel and its relationship to equal justice

is evident in nearly every facet of American President Bush and former President Bill Clinton

life today. would seem

While to have

little in common, politically importance of effective legal

or otherwise, counsel and

both know full the importance

well the of other

people willing to help them pay to legal representation allowed him

secure legal to save his

counsel. For Clinton, presidency, while for

George W. presidency.

Bush, Even

access to legal representation the bankrupt and universally

won him the shamed Enron

Corporation can afford to pay millions in four months after Enron’s collapse, the bankruptcy billed $61,656,965.00 (million) quest to secure justice for Enron and its

legal fees.100 In the first lawyers working on the

in attorney’s creditors. 101

fees in their This figure

income of only

the twenty largest firms

in the District of Columbia in

2002 was over

one billion dollars.

103

In 1980, the gross national

almost equals appropriations entire year. 102

more than twenty-five of Congress’s current for legal assistance for all of America’s poor for an By way of further comparison, the net operating

100. Inadmissible: Running Up the Enron Fees, LEGAL TIMES, June 24, 2002, at 3 (reporting that Enron’s lead counsel for bankruptcy is charging over $23 million in fees and $2.2 million in expenses).

101. Id.

102. Rhonda McMillion, Focusing Priorities: ABA Leaders Identify 10 Key Issues for Advocacy Efforts in Congress, 88 A.B.A. J. 60, 61 (2002) (explaining that funding is currently at $329 million).

103. What the Firms Got to Keep, LEGAL TIMES, June 30, 2003, at 30 (stating that

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