J. Christian Adams Attacks DOJ Lawyer For Providing Legal Representation To The Poor

J. Christian Adams sure packed a lot of falsehoods and poisonous comments into one op-ed attacking the Obama Justice Department. As we've already pointed out, Adams falsely claimed that DOJ “stopped the debut of the Amazon Kindle.” He also employed falsehoods and smears to attack Justice Department attorney Varda Hussain because of her prior work representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

But that's not all. Adams also has the audacity to attack the Justice Department for employing an attorney who used to work for D.C. Legal Aid Society, an organization that provides attorneys for residents of Washington, DC, who are involved in civil court cases but are too poor to afford attorneys.

In a piece for the Washington Examiner, Adams writes:

Who did Holder pick to head the unit inside civil rights to bring civil rights lawsuits against police departments and prisons? Why none other than Jonathan Smith, formerly of the Prisoners Legal Services Project and the D.C. Legal Aid Society, two anti-police and anti-prison guard antagonist groups. Hopefully America's police unions will take note of Smith's hiring when deciding presidential endorsements next year.

What's so bad about the D.C. Legal Aid Society and the Prisoners Legal Services Project?

The D.C. Legal Aid Society states that it provides “civil legal aid to individuals, families and communities in the District who could not otherwise afford to hire a lawyer.” You would think the civil rights division would be a good place for someone whose career includes providing legal representation to those who can't afford it.

Indeed, the ethical rules for District of Columbia attorneys state: “A lawyer should participate in serving those persons, or groups of persons, who are unable to pay all or a portion of reasonable attorney's fees or who are otherwise unable to obtain counsel.”

So, rather than paint Smith as “anti-police” for his work at the D.C. Legal Aid Society, one might say that Smith was fulfilling his ethical duties as an attorney to provide representation to those who can't afford it.

One might also look at what D.C. Legal Aid Society actually works on. It turns out that its recent cases do not involve lawsuits against the police. The organization lists cases in which they represented tenants fighting eviction, consumer cases, cases involving domestic violence allegations, and the like.

As one might expect, a search of the Nexis database reveals that while at the D.C. Prisoners Legal Services Project, Smith advocated for humane treatment for District of Columbia inmates, ensuring that the rights of some of the most despised people are not ignored.

None of this would seem to disqualify someone from working for DOJ on civil rights lawsuits involving police departments and prisons. Unless, of course, you think poor tenants, victims of domestic violence, consumers, and prisoners should not have access to lawyers.