- LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
(Reuters) - A committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court filed suit on Friday
to have President Clinton disbarred as a lawyer for denying his sexual
contact with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
- The action by the Arkansas State Supreme Court's Committee
on Professional Conduct is a late echo of the Lewinsky scandal that gripped
the United States for over a year and nearly ended Clinton's presidency.
- The lawsuit was expected after the committee last month
recommended Clinton be disbarred, the harshest punishment it can mete out.
- Responding to complaint filed by a federal judge and
a conservative public interest law firm, the committee last month said
Clinton had violated conduct rules for attorneys by denying trysts with
Lewinsky while under oath in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.
- The five-page lawsuit charged that Clinton's conduct
''damages the legal profession and demonstrates a lack of overall fitness
to hold a license to practice law''.
- It also accused Clinton of ``serious misconduct and defines
the term as involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud and misrepresentation.''
- The lawsuit was accompanied by dozens of pages of exhibits,
including a partial transcript of Clinton's deposition in the Jones case.
- Clinton has repeatedly said he would challenge the suit,
which must go to a judge and is subject to appeal before he could actually
be disbarred, and argued that the panel's finding ran against all of the
- ``We fundamentally disagree with the complaint filed
today and will defend vigorously against it,'' David Kendall, Clinton's
personal attorney, said in a single-sentence statement after the lawsuit
- Clinton last practiced law in 1983, between his first
and second terms as governor of Arkansas. He was governor from 1979 to
1981 and again from 1983 to 1992 when he was elected president.
- The lawsuit stems from Clinton's January 1998 deposition
in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. In that deposition, Clinton
insisted he had not engaged in a sexual affair with Lewinsky.
- The President later acknowledged ``an improper relationship''
with Lewinsky and admitted giving ``misleading'' answers to her lawyers
during his deposition.
- Although Clinton continued to insist that his answer
was technically accurate, a federal judge in the Jones case cited Clinton
last year for contempt of court over his denials and fined the president
- Judge Susan Webber Wright also referred the contempt
ruling to the state conduct panel, where it was joined by a complaint against
Clinton filed by the Southeastern Legal Foundation.
- Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives
in December 1998 on perjury and obstruction of justice charges stemming
from the affair but was acquitted by the U.S. Senate in February 1999,
allowing him to serve out his term
- In a recent news conference Clinton angrily insisted
that many of the scandals which dogged his administration ``were bogus,''
but made no direct reference to the Lewinsky matter.
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