How Harvard screwed Weinstein…and us.
“We all know that the right to legal counsel is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution.”
I just finished writing Book III of the Talion Series: Life for Life. In it, there will be more about Susie and Roy. There will be more revenge and (tiny spoiler alert) a trial.
The legal aspects of writing Life for Life got me into doing some research on the right to legal counsel. In the course of doing so, I came across something that Harvard recently did that really pissed me off.
Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. is a lawyer. A very good one. Good enough to teach at Harvard. Good enough that he and his wife were appointed deans at Harvard—the first black faculty deans in Harvard’s history. Sullivan is a very impressive individual.
But, Mr. Sullivan made a big mistake, according to Harvard. He decided to represent criminal defendant Harvey Weinstein.
Now, we all know that the right to legal counsel is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. So, to be clear, Harvard fired Sullivan for doing his job, which is to provide constitutionally protected legal representation to a U.S. citizen.
The problem with what Harvard did is twofold.
First, by taking sides against Sullivan (and Weinstein by implication), Harvard basically presumed Weinstein was guilty before it was proven so.
Second, our legal system is built on the concept of competent advocacy on both sides of the case. The moment we start attacking the people that work within the system for performing their proper roles, we begin to chip away at one of the institutions that makes America the great country it is.
Before getting fired, Sullivan tried to make amends with Harvard and quit as Weinstein’s lawyer—he claimed the representation conflicted with his teaching schedule. Harvard fired him anyway.
So, Harvard succeeded in depriving Weinstein of an attorney of his choice. And then it got away with firing Sullivan because it didn’t like his former client.
Think about what this could mean to you. If you fall into a category that is deemed “unpopular,” a lawyer may refuse to represent you for fear of retaliation. A lawyer could be afraid to represent you because you are charged with a crime and are gay or Jewish or Hispanic or female. And that would be okay, according to Harvard.
You think it can’t happen?
Who’d have thought Harvard could get away with firing a black professor just for doing his job?