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- by Stephen Gustitis
Physicians take what is called the Hippocratic oath. “Never do harm to anyone” is the bedrock tenet of the oath. In other words, when treating a patient the foremost principle is never make the patient worse by your treatment. Lawyers should take the same oath.
William W. Taylor, III is the attorney representing Ms. Lois Lerner, the target of a congressional investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. Yesterday, Lerner was subpoenaed to appear before a congressional hearing to answer questions about her involvement. She appeared with Taylor and gave an “opening statement” denying her guilt. However, she then asserted her 5th Amendment right to remain silent. In other words, Lerner said what SHE wanted . . . but refused to answer any questions. She refused to submit to any cross-examination. It made her look guilty as hell. A Bryan-College Station attorney could help mitigate the deleterious effects of such a statement.
Taylor should have known better. He’s allegedly a “high-powered Washington litigator” who’s clients include former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the late Keating Five member, Sen. Alan Cranston. But allowing his client to make such self-serving assertions and deny guilt without submitting her to questions by the congressional committee made her look terrible. If Taylor wanted to get Lerner’s defense out there, he should have read the statement himself. He should have protected his client, kept her quiet, and “do no harm.” Now Lerner has opened the door and possibly waived her right to remain silent. Now Lerner will remain in the public eye and the fight over her testimony will continue.
None of this is good for the client. Hippocrates would be appalled.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.