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4th Judge Opts Out of Clinton Disbarment; 5th Unsure

July 06, 2000|From Times Wire Services

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A fourth Arkansas judge said Wednesday he could not accept the disbarment case against President Clinton, whose law license state authorities are attempting to revoke because of his admitted misstatements under oath about a sexual affair.

A fifth judge, Leon Johnson, who was appointed by Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, was assigned the case but said he would study it before deciding whether to hear it.

In an order made public Wednesday, Judge Chris Piazza of Little Rock said: "Then-Gov. Clinton appointed me to chair a committee that drafted legislation that became the core of the current Arkansas Ethics Law. Due to this association, the court on its own motion and for good cause show, does hereby recuse from the above styled case."

Three other judges earlier recused themselves from Clinton's case, all citing previous judicial appointments from the president while he was governor of Arkansas.

Upon Piazza's recusal, a court computer randomly assigned the Clinton case to Johnson.

"I haven't taken a look at it, so I don't know if I'll take it or not," Johnson said, adding that he was "not sure" if he had received previous administrative appointments from Clinton.

Johnson was appointed to fill the unexpired term of a judge who had resigned. He will hold the judgeship until the end of the year. If the disbarment case is not resolved by then, it will fall to his successor, who will be elected in November.

No trial date has been set.

The disciplinary committee said Clinton is unfit to be a lawyer for denying during the Paula Corbin Jones sexual harassment case that he had a sexual relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky.

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