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CHICAGO, April 25, 2014 – The president of the American Bar Association is urging the Republican Governors Association and its chair, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, to retract its new video ad that attacks a South Carolina gubernatorial candidate for the criminal defense work he performed earlier in his career.
"A fundamental tenet of America’s justice system and Constitution is that anyone who faces loss of liberty has a right to legal counsel," wrote ABA President James R. Silkenat in a letter to Christie, who is a lawyer. "Lawyers have an ethical obligation to uphold that principle and provide zealous representation to people who otherwise would stand alone against the power and resources of the government — even to those accused or convicted of terrible crimes."
Emphasizing that the ABA does not endorse political candidates, Silkenat noted that his letter does not support or oppose any candidate in the South Carolina race: "However, as leader of the nation’s largest lawyers’ organization, I am writing to express that the message the ad sends is wrong in the context of the American system of justice, and it must be rejected."
The ABA letter is available online here.
Please click here for a biography and photo of James R. Silkenat, president of the American Bar Association.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. To review our privacy statement, click here. Follow the latest ABA news at www.abanow.org and on Twitter @ABANews.