Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, February 14, 2005

When Can Zealous Advocacy Bite You in the Butt?

Louisiana insurance commissioner Bob Odom just got criminal charges against him dropped. He was accused of bad stuff, including bribery, theft, money laundering and false tax returns. Good news for Odom, right?

I wonder - and this is all probably purely academic - if that's not something of a pyrrhic victory. The charges were dropped, not because Odom didn't do the things of which he was accused, but because the judge ruled the prosecutor took too long to go to trial. So now Odom can say quite truthfully that he's never been convicted of misusing his elected office, but that's a bit of a distortion, because of the reason he wasn't convicted. His lawyer, of course, had a duty of zealous advocacy, including the duty to get charges dropped rather than go to trial and clear his name, and as a result of that duty, Odom's name is by no means clear (at least not in the eyes of people who read newspapers).

I say again, this is probably purely academic, because I live in Louisiana. Everyone down here just assumes that if he was elected, he probably belongs in jail for any number of things. Being corrupt as a UN peace-keeper doesn't necessarily count against you in this state. The list of examples is simply too long to bother with. It's just a fact of political life.