Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Phil Gramm is testifying in Ryan trail....that's weird

Things are getting stranger in the federal building.

Former Texas Senator and Presidential candidate from the 'let them eat cake' (or alternatively 'leave no corporation behind' wing of the Republican Party Phil Gramm is scheduled to testify at the George Ryan trial this week according to CBS's fantastic blog on the trail here.

Apparently, when Gramm was running for president in 1996 (the year that Bob Dole eventually won the GOP nomination), then-Secretary of State George Ryan decided to endorse him. In return -- well, that's what the trial is partially about, I guess, so I should say, at the same time, Ryan's daughters and two supporters were put on the campaign payroll. As the CBS blog puts it:

Ryan endorsed Gramm in March 1995 and prosecutors have alleged some $32,000 in consulting fees were funneled to two Ryan staff members and the governor's daughters until the senator dropped out in early 1996. The fees were allegedly laundered through a Republican management consulting company.
So somehow, Phil Gramm is coming to Chicago to talk about George Ryan and the 1996 primary campaign. How bizarre. That this man might have been president. And that he's testifying in our former governor's criminal trial.

Did you see in Crain's, by the way, that Ryan's lawyers at Winston and Strawn are taking the case on pro bono? I hope they don't count that $10 or $15 million in legal fees that they waive for Governor Ryan as one of their good deeds to ramp up the firm on pro bono rankings like this one -- I always thought pro bono cases were supposed to be for poor people or the severely disenfranchised. I don't think white collar criminal defense really counts.


unmikely said...

I'm far from a Ryan fan, but I think that it's legit for Winston to call the Ryan defense pro bono.

Public service is quickly becoming a place where you might as well hire a personal lawyer before you set up your voicemail. There are hundreds of young staffers from the Clinton (and now the Bush) White House who did absolutely nothing wrong but spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills just to prepare for depositions, etc.

And don't throw in the old canard that you don't need a lawyer if you didn't do anything wrong ... anyone who believes this has never met anyone who has been deposed by the Feds.

I want people who might be interested in being a future Governor, a future President, or even just a future junior policy assistant -- to believe that they can pursue a career in public service, forego becoming rich, and still have a chance at avoiding legal bankruptcy.

I don't think Winston is being purely altruistic -- they're getting lots of publicity -- but they should be applauded for making a contribution to a fair justice system.

At the end of the day, I think Ryan will be found guilty. The good news for the public is that no one will be able to claim he didn't have a good defense.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I don't buy putting a halo on Winston for defending Ryan for free. I can buy that the Feds are very, very tough and that it's only fair to match them with tenacious defense lawyers, but there really ought to be some other term besides pro bono (which conveys noblesse oblige) for something like this. I also thought Ryan had a secretive legal defense fund. Maybe it's tapped out.

Lazerlou said...

I'm not sure how representing a wealthy former governor in a crim case satisfies the ABA definition:
Winston is a monied frim full of scoundrels and politically connected people. They need to lie about their pro bono work to come off as decent human beings. It is understandable, the lying, given that they are more than willing to have their serveices bought by evil.


Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year. In fulfilling this responsibility, the lawyer should:

(a) provide a substantial majority of the (50) hours of legal services without fee or expectation of fee to:

(1) persons of limited means or

(2) charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; and

(b) provide any additional services through:

(1) delivery of legal services at no fee or substantially reduced fee to individuals, groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties or public rights, or charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters in furtherance of their organizational purposes, where the payment of standard legal fees would significantly deplete the organization's economic resources or would be otherwise inappropriate;

(2) delivery of legal services at a substantially reduced fee to persons of limited means; or

(3) participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.

In addition, a lawyer should voluntarily contribute financial support to organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.