Clinton disbarred by Supreme Court

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The Independent US

The US Supreme Court ordered former President Bill Clinton to be disbarred from practising law before the high court and gave him 40 days to contest the order.

The court did not explain its reasons , but Supreme Court disbarment often follows disbarment in lower courts. In April, Clinton's Arkansas law licence was suspended for five years and he paid a $25,000 fine. The original disbarment lawsuit was brought by a committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

There are no fines associated with the Supreme Court action. Most lawyers who are admitted to the US Supreme Court bar never actually argue a case there, but the right to do so is considered an honour.

Clinton agreed to the Arkansas fine and suspension last January, the day before he left office, as part of an understanding with Independent Counsel Robert Ray to end the Monica Lewinsky investigation.

The agreement also satisfied the legal effort by the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct to disbar Clinton for giving misleading testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

The Supreme Court followed its standard rules in the Clinton case, which include suspending Clinton from practice in the court and giving him 40 day to show why he should not be permanently disbarred.

The court order did not mention any vote by the justices.

"Whenever a member of the bar of this court has been disbarred or suspended from practice of any court of record, or has engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the bar of this court, the court will enter an order suspending that member from practice before this court," Supreme Court rules say.

Julia Payne, a spokeswoman for Clinton, referred calls to his lawyer, David Kendall, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

President Clinton and Mr Ray, the Whitewater prosecutor, worked out their deal late last year.

Mr Ray promised not to prosecute the president when he left office ifMr Clinton, in return, would agree to the suspension of his Arkansas law licence for a substantial period, lawyers familiar with the meeting said then.

The White House meeting between Clinton and Ray eventually led to the deal that spared Clinton the prospect of indictment.