Is it just me, or is my adopted home state full of cranks and criminals who make the national news rather disproportionately given our low population numbers (about 4 million, probably on its way to 5 by the time the 2010 census is complete)? There’s a profile of Constitutional rights attorney and local celebrity David Lane, along with some of his celebrity clients, in today’s Denver Post, and in the interview he tells a funny joke. (I think there’s a good chance this is an entirely fictional story, but it’s still a good joke.)
And of all the controversial clients he has ever represented, none has been quite like [Ward] Churchill, fired by CU after questions were raised about his scholarship. But those questions first arose after the emergence of an essay in which Churchill referred to some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as “little Eichmanns.”
For Lane, it was a clear-cut First Amendment issue — he believed Churchill was fired not for plagiarism or fabrication, as CU leaders claimed, but for his speech.
And Lane won, sort of, when a jury sided with him, although the judge later issued a ruling tossing out the verdict. That case is still on appeal, and things may change.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the way Lane has been attacked for representing Churchill. Like the day he sat with a client, in prison for second-degree murder and facing a first-degree murder charge for a slaying behind bars.
“This guy’s doing second-degree murder time, facing the death penalty, and he says, ‘Can I ask you a personal question?’ ” Lane recalled. “I said, ‘Sure.’ He said, ‘No offense, but how do you represent a scumbag like Ward Churchill?’ “
[Rim shot!] Read the whole thing–Lane is an interesting guy. Some may think he’s a publicity hound, but I think he does an admirably effective job in representing his clients. I admire his determination not to care that so many people hate him–he’s doing very important work for all of us. He explains: ”I am in the business of controlling the government. That’s all I do in every one of those cases. And if they can play fair and they get my client, OK, you know, if they play fair. But if they can’t do it fairly, under the law, I will walk this person out the front of the courthouse because the most dangerous entity on earth is a government that has the ability to do whatever it wants whenever it wants without control.”
(For those of you who missed my commentary on Ward Churchill and can’t live without it, click here and revel in yet more trenchant commentary.) Cheers, friends: I’ve got a lot of leaves to rake, as soon as the snow melts off of them…that’s how I’m spending my return-to-daylight-wasting extra hour today! It’s not too often that I can say I shoveled two loads of snow off of the driveway and sidewalk before I finished raking up the yard. Lucky, lucky me! (And I mean that seriously–my yard, driveway, and sidewalk aren’t in foreclosure, and we can afford to heat the house even though we haven’t yet put in the storm windows, so we are lucky indeed.)