Just a day before former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to begin a tour to promote her latest book, a Maryland judge ordered the state bar to launch an investigation of three attorneys who assisted her in deleting private emails from the personal server she maintained at her New York home to conduct official business during her tenure at the State Department.
The alleged transgressions of David E. Kendall, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson were called “egregious” on Monday by Circuit Judge Paul F. Harris Jr., who overruled objections from attorneys representing Maryland and contended that the state bar could not brush the allegations aside by labeling them as “frivolous.”
Kendall, Mills and Samuelson are licensed to practice in Maryland and could face professional sanctions if the commission determines that they engaged in misconduct.
Texas attorney Ty Clevenger filed the complaint, which alleges that the three lawyers deleted thousands of emails from Clinton’s private server that were sent or received while she served as secretary of state, essentially destroying evidence. Clevenger is pursuing sanctions against Clinton and seeking to have Kendall, Mills and Samuelson disbarred in Maryland.
According to Clevenger, who has filed corruption accusations against Republicans and Democrats and is writing a book on political corruption, the Clinton email scandal is a case study of politically affiliated attorneys receiving preferential treatment.
Complaints filed by Clevenger have been denied by federal courts and bar associations in Arkansas and Washington, D.C.
“There are allegations of destroying evidence,” Judge Harris said at a brief hearing Monday regarding Clevenger’s complaint filed in Maryland.
Harris noted that Maryland’s rules require the bar to conduct investigations regardless of who raises the complaint, and said that Clevenger’s request “appears to have merit.”
The decision will prompt an investigation by the state of Maryland which will seek a response from the accused attorneys.
In 2016, Maryland’s Attorney Grievance Commission argued against a hearing for Clevenger’s complaint, claiming that he had “no personal knowledge of the allegations” so no investigation was required.
During Monday’s hearing, Assistant Attorney General Alexis Rhode represented the Grievance Commission and the Office of Bar Counsel and said that they have already determined that Clevenger’s complaint is “frivolous.” Rhode cited confidentiality rules as the reason she could not explain their decision.
“Because all these complaints are confidential, I’m unable to put that before the court,” Rohde said.
Rejecting Rhode’s stance, Judge Harris said this represented the first time the commission had used the term “frivolous” to explain its decision, and insisted that the rules made it clear that the commission must open an investigation.
“I just think this is a rather easy decision at this point,” he said. “The court is ordering bar counsel to investigate.”
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source: Western Journalism