Virginia lawyers file grievance against Monica Marie Goodling


As reported by Frank Green in the Richmond Times Dispatch (h/t Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal via Matt Berman at TPMMuckaker ) on September 16, 2008, attorney William R. Wilder prepared a grievance complaint against Monica Marie Goodling and he and several other attorneys filed the complaint with the Virginia Bar:

Monica Goodling resigned as the department’s liaison to the White House last year. A Justice Department investigation recently concluded that she violated civil-service law and department policy by considering political affiliations in hiring decisions.

Lawyer William R. Wilder, who drafted the complaint signed by a dozen other lawyers, said yesterday he was concerned about Goodling’s conduct and that she has apparently not been charged with a crime or disciplined elsewhere.

The Sept. 8 letter to the state bar alleges that Goodling violated at least two rules of professional conduct and asks that the state bar start a disciplinary investigation.

I sent this e-mail to Mr. Wilder thanking him for preparing and filing the complaint, advising him of the complaints I prepared against Ms. Goodling as well as Michael J. Elston, a fellow member of the Virginia Bar and requesting to discuss these matters with him. I also copied Ms. Goodling’s attorney, John M. Dowd , Esq.

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17 Responses

  1. it’s about damned time! when does gonzo lost his law license?

  2. Hey, Nonnie. You honor me with your visit. [For anyone who hasn’t been to Hysterical Raisins (link is in my blogroll to the right) lately, Nonnie has created some great – and very funny – parody art based on various Republican current events. It’s worth stopping by daily to see her latest work.]

    when does gonzo lost his law license?

    Soon, if someone (you?) will print, complete and file this complaint form along with a copy of this post on the esteemed former Attorney General.

  3. cool! will they really accept that? are we all considered clients of his when he was ag?
    p.s. thanks for the kind words! :)

  4. You don’t need to be a client of an attorney, involved in the matter or even a resident of the state in which the complaint would be filed. If you want some publicity, start filing the grievances I’ve prepared.

  5. Excellent. It IS about damn time.

  6. writechic,

    Although VERY long overdue, this grievance is still better late than never.

  7. I’ve never seen such * ***** ** *** ****** **** a stupid issue. * *** *** *** *** **** ***** ***** ***** **** *** **** *** ***** ** *** ******** ** ******. **** ** *** *** **** **.

  8. jesse james,

    Thank you for visiting and commenting. Please note that I both welcome and encourage comments that disagree with me. I do not, however, accept name-calling or personal taunts to my other visitors. Accordingly, I have permitted your comment but I have edited it to conform to my blog’s standards. I will also block any visitor from commenting who cannot engage in civil discourse.

    As far as being a ‘stupid issue’, please explain why it is stupid to expect that attorneys must follow the law and the rules of professional conduct and also why it is stupid to expect that attorneys who don’t follow the law or who violate their professional obligations should be subject to sanctions.

    E.M.

  9. em,
    Let me be frank, I’ll try to be civil, and not have you **** everything I say. First off, I have a problem with laywers, I know this is’nt the place to start this, but I think they are greedy, and use their power to manipulate, and scare others into getting what they want. I’m sure not all laywers are bad, but what gives them the right to destroy a persons life?
    As far as the monica deal, this is the way I see it, and forgive me, I’m no expert, I’m a blue collar worker that works 18 hours a day, gives alot of money to the goverment so that lazy people can collect it. I’m just telling you the way I see it, and I’m not afraid to tell you what I think.
    Ok, be honest, Lets just say that if their was a machine to detect whether or not every lawyer has ever followed the rules of pro conduct, and if they have’nt, they’d be zapped into vapor. I’d be willing to bet their would be less laywers in a town than post offices.
    Monica was smart enough to take the 5th, giving her imudity (forgive my bad spelling), their fore, Lets place some blame on her, cause she is not able to be touched. We all know the real problem here was gonzales, they stir up some small innner office conflicts, and draw fire off the real target.
    Who really cares if she only wanted to hire a republican? She worked in a republican office, the major players were presidentaly appointed, so you would think you would want a company that would all work well together and have no conflicts, thats how problems happen. Every other president has had this happen, and no one had stirred the pot then, How many people did Clinton get rid of when he took office?
    If I was the owner of a painting company, and I hired a manager to hire workers, their has to be discrimination, you can’t hire someone that is colorblind, a beach can’t hire a lifeguard that can’t swim, a fire company can’t hire a firefighter that is afraid of fire,. Sounds like dumb reasons, but be honest, does it not make sense? And then you have other people saying equal rights, the guy that can’t see green has to work too, but you know he’ll screw up the job, and I sure would’nt want a firefighter on my local station that would’nt enter a burning house and save my loved ones, or myself. Their has to be discrimation, whether people like it or not. Ever hear the words “get over it”, maybe that should be the new us motto.
    If you want to sanction every law breaker, then their is not going to be anyone left. The whole us will become a big prison. While we are on the subject, I want to file a grievance, if the goverment bails out these people that are irresponsable(fannie may/mac), then is’nt it not fair and equal to give us all responsible people equal payment for what was forgiven on the debtors part? Why don’t we all go out and spend more money than what we have, and have someone say, it’s ok, don’t worry bout. Start a complaint about that, I’ll be the first to sign up to sue the **** out of the gov.
    Well, sorry for ranting and ravings, I hope you see the way a normal hard working american see things. JJ

  10. JJ,

    Thank you for your thoughts, or rantings and ravings, as you called them. You raise a lot of issues and I don’t have the time right now to give you a proper reply but I will as soon as I get the chance.

    E.M.

  11. JJ,

    Here’s my reply to your comment.

    Let me be frank, I’ll try to be civil, and not have you **** everything I say.

    Thanks.

    First off, I have a problem with laywers, I know this is’nt the place to start this, but I think they are greedy, and use their power to manipulate, and scare others into getting what they want. I’m sure not all laywers are bad, but what gives them the right to destroy a persons life?

    Even you recognize that your statement that you have a problem with lawyers because they’re greedy, manipulative and are bullies is too general to be accurate. Like you, I too am sure that not all lawyers are greedy, manipulative or are bullies. Just like all priests aren’t pedophiles, and all cops don’t plant evidence or lie under oath, and all teachers don’t sleep with their students, and all mechanics don’t charge for ‘repairs’ that don’t need to be made, and so on. However, nothing gives any attorney the right to destroy anyone’s life. (And if they do so, they should be grieved and, if appropriate, disbarred.)

    As far as the monica deal, this is the way I see it, and forgive me, I’m no expert, I’m a blue collar worker that works 18 hours a day, gives alot of money to the goverment so that lazy people can collect it. I’m just telling you the way I see it, and I’m not afraid to tell you what I think.
    Ok, be honest, Lets just say that if their was a machine to detect whether or not every lawyer has ever followed the rules of pro conduct, and if they have’nt, they’d be zapped into vapor. I’d be willing to bet their would be less laywers in a town than post offices.

    Does this vaporizer have settings for other professions? If so, I’d be willing to bet that a higher percentage of lawyers survive than the population in general. Like most of my colleagues, I pride myself on my professional ethics. As a purely practical matter, I worked too hard to become an attorney to risk my license by violating my ethical obligations.

    Monica was smart enough to take the 5th, giving her imudity (forgive my bad spelling), their fore, Lets place some blame on her, cause she is not able to be touched. We all know the real problem here was gonzales, they stir up some small innner office conflicts, and draw fire off the real target.

    When Monica Goodling took the Fifth, she merely refused to answer questions because the answers would tend to incriminate her. The Constitution does not require any person to provide testimony against themselves if that testimony would be an admission of a crime. However, when a person takes the oath of admission to a state bar association, that person does not have a Constitutional right to avoid answering questions about that person’s conduct that relates to his or her fitness to be an attorney. Simply, there is no Constitutional right to be an attorney. It is a privilege and with that privilege comes certain obligations, one of which is to NOT commit federal crimes and another of which is respond truthfully to any grievance investigation.

    You’re right that Alberto Gonzales used Ms. Goodling but that does not give her any defense in a grievance proceeding. As an attorney, she is required to reach her own conclusions about the legality of her own conduct. She must also face the consequences of her actions if she doesn’t act ethically, whether she relied on another’s orders or not. Simply, the bar grievance process is not a criminal prosecution and Ms. Goodling, therefore, does not have a right to take the Fifth in a grievance investigation. To the contrary, she has an affirmative obligation as an attorney to tell the truth and her failure to do so in the grievance process can itself be grounds for sanctions, including disbarment.

    Who really cares if she only wanted to hire a republican? She worked in a republican office, the major players were presidentaly appointed, so you would think you would want a company that would all work well together and have no conflicts, thats how problems happen.

    The problem with Ms. Goodling’s conduct is that when she made these hiring decisions she was violating federal law. In other words, she was committing felony crimes. In a larger context, the politicization of the Department of Justice has severely damaged the reputation of the Department of Justice in particular and the legal profession in general and has resulted in the prosecution of many people for purely political reasons, such as to eliminate political opponents and to influence elections.

    Every other president has had this happen, and no one had stirred the pot then, How many people did Clinton get rid of when he took office?

    You are, factually, wrong. What this administration has done with the Department of Justice has NEVER BEFORE been done by any other president. (This is also a different issue than Ms. Goodling making hiring decisions based on political decisions in violation of federal criminal laws.) Like Presidents Clinton, Bush 41, Reagan and others before them, President Bush replaced the prior president’s appointees with his own. Had President Bush simply done this, there would be no problem. President Bush, however, replaced at least nine (9) of his OWN appointees, in the MIDDLE of their terms, and for what are likely ILLEGAL reasons.

    If I was the owner of a painting company, and I hired a manager to hire workers, their has to be discrimination, you can’t hire someone that is colorblind, a beach can’t hire a lifeguard that can’t swim, a fire company can’t hire a firefighter that is afraid of fire,. Sounds like dumb reasons, but be honest, does it not make sense? And then you have other people saying equal rights, the guy that can’t see green has to work too, but you know he’ll screw up the job, and I sure would’nt want a firefighter on my local station that would’nt enter a burning house and save my loved ones, or myself. Their has to be discrimation, whether people like it or not.

    It is not illegal to discriminate against someone for things such as ability to perform a job. For example, Hooter’s is allowed to hire only women to be waitresses at their restaurants and the Catholic Church is allowed to hire only Catholic men to be priests. However, it IS illegal to discriminate against someone because of their race, religion, etc., in many circumstances, such as a policeman who only investigates blacks or Muslims or a Monica Goodling who only hires Republicans for positions in which it is a violation of federal law to hire based on political affiliation.

    Ever hear the words “get over it”, maybe that should be the new us motto.

    Until the Bush administration concludes, you may be right about the motto. I’d like to get back to the rule of law, though.

    If you want to sanction every law breaker, then their is not going to be anyone left. The whole us will become a big prison.

    I’m only concerned here with sanctioning attorneys who violate their ethical obligations and their rules of professional conduct, whether a crime was committed or not. Even if The Grievance Project is wildly successful, the ‘big U.S. prison’ you refer to won’t come from my crusade, but will come from the ‘war’ on drugs.

    While we are on the subject, I want to file a grievance, if the goverment bails out these people that are irresponsable(fannie may/mac), then is’nt it not fair and equal to give us all responsible people equal payment for what was forgiven on the debtors part? Why don’t we all go out and spend more money than what we have, and have someone say, it’s ok, don’t worry bout. Start a complaint about that, I’ll be the first to sign up to sue the **** out of the gov.

    I agree. However, I don’t have the time to write as much as I want on the subject of unethical attorneys let alone taking on this BS bailout. Fortunately, others with more expertise in these matters are working on this subject.

    Well, sorry for ranting and ravings, I hope you see the way a normal hard working american see things. JJ

    No need to be sorry to have and express your opinions.

    I also like to think I’m a normal, hard-working American and I hope you can also see things from my perspective: I don’t like having crooks and unethical people as colleagues in my chosen profession. They harm my profession, they harm justice, they harm the Constitution and they harm OUR country.

    E.M.

  12. E.M.

    In your response to JJ you made the following statement:

    The problem with Ms. Goodling’s conduct is that when she made these hiring decisions she was violating federal law. In other words, she was committing felony crimes.

    Are the violations that Ms. Goodling is alleged to have committed at the DOJ actually felony crimes?
    If so what is the penalty prescribed in the law for them?
    I have been wondering for some time now if the usual and/or maximum penalty for violating the federal employment laws in question is simply dismissal.

    Also could you articulate what the “at least two rules of professional conduct” are that Ms. Goodling is alleged to have violated.

    Thanks,

    JB

  13. John,

    Thank you for your interest, comment and questions.

    The federal laws Ms. Goodling violated are criminal laws and her violation of these laws does, potentially, subject her to criminal liability. As a practical/political matter, however, she won’t be prosecuted for these crimes by a Pres. Bush-appointed Attorney General. She might be prosecuted by the next Attorney General, though, depending on the political will of the next administration, the effect of the immunity she received from Congress for her testimony and, possibly, any applicable statute of limitations.

    Since a grievance investigation would not impose any criminal penalties, I haven’t researched the possible criminal sanctions so I don’t know what criminal penalties are prescribed in these statutes. In reviewing her conduct with respect to her ethical obligations, the issue is whether her conduct violated any Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, which can be violated by engaging in criminal conduct.

    The type and extent of penalties that may apply to the conduct of an attorney will depend on the forum in question. For example, the DoJ OPR and OIJ investigation into Ms. Goodling’s conduct (see the excerpts below from my post on Ms. Goodling for a link to the report) was an internal DoJ investigation and sanctions would be prescribed by internal DoJ regulations and would be related to her employment at DoJ – but only while she remained employed at DoJ and she had resigned before the report was issued. If DoJ should decide to pursue a criminal prosecution of Ms. Goodling, the issue would be whether she violated the criminal statutes, the burden of proof would be ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ – the most stringent burden – and the sanctions could include those specified in the criminal statutes, which are generally fines and prison time. In a grievance investigation, the issue is whether she violated her ethical obligations, the burden of proof is significantly lower than ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ and the penalties generally include private reprimands, public reprimands, suspension of license and disbarment.

    I previously posted this extensive analysis of the illegal and unethical conduct in which Ms. Goodling engaged. My post cites and links to various articles and reports that document her conduct as well as cites and links to the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct which she violated. Here’s an excerpt from that grievance complaint:

    Specifically, Ms. Goodling’s conduct violated the following the following Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct (.pdf) :

    Rule 1.2. Scope of Representation

    Rule 1.7. Conflict of Interest: General Rule

    Rule 1.16. Declining or Terminating Representation

    Rule 2.1. Advisor

    Rule 3.4. Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel

    Rule 4.1. Truthfulness in Statements to Others

    Rule 4.4. Respect for Rights of Third Persons
    Rule 5.4. Professional Independence of a Lawyer

    Rule 8.2. Judicial and Legal Officials

    Rule 8.4. Misconduct

    Rule 8.5. Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law

    Allegation: Monica Goodling engaged in conduct that was a violation of federal laws that prohibit the consideration of political, sexual orientation and other impermissible criteria in making hiring decisions while employed by the Department of Justice.

    As confirmed by the United States Department of Justice Offices of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector Generals in their report, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General:

    The evidence demonstrated that Goodling violated Department policy and federal law, and committed misconduct, by considering political or ideological affiliations in the appointment of IJs and BIA members. Goodling admitted in her congressional testimony that she took political considerations into account” in IJ and BIA hiring. She stated that Sampson had told her that IJ hiring was not subject to civil service laws, and that she “assumed” those laws did not apply to BIA ember hiring. The evidence showed that she used political considerations in assessing candidates for both IJ and BIA positions.

    As detailed above, our investigation found that she solicited and received résumés for IJ and BIA candidates from the White House, from Republican members of Congress, the Republican National Lawyers Association, the Federalist Society, and from individuals with Republican
    Party affiliations. We found no evidence that she solicited candidates from any sources she thought had Democratic affiliations.

    Goodling also admitted in her congressional testimony that she researched Internet sites to learn whether candidates for IJ positions had made financial contributions to political parties. She admitted further that she conducted computer searches on such candidates. Evidence from our investigation revealed that she used the Nexis search string she had received from Williams to conduct research on IJ candidates. Both Angela Williamson and the OIPL employee who briefly assisted Goodling in late 2006 testified to conducting such searches, and the December 5, 2006 e-mail from Goodling to the OIPL employee contains the entire Williams search string, with a few additional terms added by Goodling. We also found documents that were obtained through the search string, which bore markings showing that the search string had been used. Furthermore, we found that Goodling ran the search string on candidates who had applied in response to the public announcements and whose résumés were forwarded in packets by EOIR.

    We also found several instances in which candidates for IJ or BIA positions were asked to fill out the White House PPO form, which sought information about the candidates’ political party affiliation and about their activities to support the Bush/Cheney campaigns.

    Goodling asserted that she had been advised by Sampson that it was appropriate to take political factors into account in hiring IJs. Even assuming Goodling received this advice, her conduct showed that she knew that political factors could not be considered in hiring for career IJ positions. First, she told several IJ or BIA candidates that they should not have been asked to complete the White House PPO form that sought information about political affiliation and voting history. Despite that knowledge, Goodling conducted research on IJ candidates to learn the same kind of information covered by the PPO forms. Second, Goodling’s claim that she believed it was appropriate to use political considerations in selecting IJs is inconsistent with the statements she made to the Civil Division attorney handling the Gonzalez v. Gonzales litigation. She stated to the Civil Division attorney that she did not use political considerations in selecting IJs, a position she reversed in her immunized
    testimony before Congress. If Goodling actually believed that political considerations were appropriate in IJ hiring, and if she had been told by Sampson that OLC had so advised, it is reasonable to believe that she would have said so to the Civil Division attorney, rather than making such inaccurate statements.

    Goodling also acknowledged that Sampson never told her that the civil service laws did not apply to BIA member hiring. Rather, she testified that she “assumed” that to be the case. Even if that assumption was initially justified, and we believe it was not, we determined that
    Goodling subsequently asked an OLC attorney for an opinion regarding the legal framework for hiring the Chair and Vice Chair of the BIA. She was advised that all BIA positions were either Schedule A career or SES career positions. Yet, despite having received this advice, she followed the same procedures she used in selecting IJ candidates, and considered
    political or ideological affiliations in recommending four individuals for BIA positions. [FN] 83

    Finally, we concluded that Goodling engaged in misconduct by making misrepresentations to the Civil Division attorneys representing the Department in the Gonzalez v. Gonzales litigation. An attorney from the Civil Division interviewed Goodling in January 2007 to learn how the OAG had handled the IJ hiring process. In the interview, Goodling told the attorney that she did not take political considerations into account in IJ hiring. The Civil Division attorney’s recollection of this point was specific and was corroborated by the memoranda he wrote
    contemporaneously and circulated within the Department in connection with deliberations about how to handle the lawsuit.

    [FN] 83 We also note that the political screening Goodling conducted on IJ candidates (even candidates provided by the White House) caused significant delays in filling IJ vacancies and significantly contributed to an increasing number of unfilled IJ positions.

    Report, pp. 117-118.

    In sum, the evidence showed that Sampson, Williams, and Goodling violated federal law and Department policy, and Sampson and Goodling committed misconduct, by considering political and ideological affiliations in soliciting and selecting IJs, which are career positions protected by the civil service laws.

    Report, p. 137.

    E.M.

  14. Thats screwed up, does’nt their need to be concrete eveidence? What about gonzales, is he gonna get sucked into this mess at all?

  15. JJ,

    There’s plenty of evidence to document the conduct of these attorneys. Whether that evidence is sufficient to convict at a criminal trial in a criminal court of law or whether it’s sufficient to result in a grievance after a complaint has been filed depends on the strength of that evidence, as determined by either the jury or the grievance committee, as the case may be. IMO. there is sufficient evidence to disbar these attorneys based only on what is in the public record.

    Gonzales will never be prosecuted for a crime by the current administration. Maybe he will by the next administration. Whether he will ever be sanctioned by the Texas Bar Association will first depend on whether someone ever files a grievance against him. If you’re interested, I prepared this complaint against Alberto Gonzales which you can file.

    E.M.

  16. […] Virginia lawyers file grievance against Monica Marie Goodling […]

  17. […] others and I have long argued, Monica Goodling engaged in professional misconduct while in the employ of […]

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