Conservative lawyers are at even more risk of being targeted, because the liberal state bar associations can also come after them. Time and time again, conservative prosecutors who have attempted to root out wrongdoing by the left, including corruption by judges, have been targeted by both state bars and judges. Former Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline had his license to practice law revoked after he tried to prosecute abortion clinics for child rape and illegal partial-birth and late-term abortions. Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas was disbarred after he went after judges who were trying to thwart his enforcement of illegal immigration laws (disclaimer).
Sadly, a clever, dishonest prosecutor can “indict a ham sandwich.” The indictment of Governor Perry all started out of political revenge. Lehmberg was arrested for a DUI in April 2013, and a blood test revealed she was intoxicated at an astonishing three times the legal limit, with a .239 BAC. She was recorded on video exhibiting disorderly conduct toward the police, and had to be put in restraints. She pled guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Perry rightfully called for her resignation, but she refused. Consequently, when it came time for Perry to sign off on a $7.5 million budget for her Public Integrity Unit – which had a history of targeting Republicans – he line-item vetoed it, which he was authorized to do under the Texas Constitution. Lehmberg convinced a Texas grand jury to indict Perry for the veto on two felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The special prosecutor who handled the case, Michael McCrum, is a top attorney who would have little difficulty indicting a ham sandwich.
Even the left has been critical of the indictment. The New York Times, no friend of Perry, penned an editorial saying, “...bad political judgment is not necessarily a felony, and the indictment handed up against him on Friday — given the facts so far — appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution.” Greta Van Susteren, one of the few liberals on Fox News, asked, “Does that mean every veto by a Texas governor that a D.A. does not like risks an indictment? That's absurd.” Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz compared it to a Soviet Union show trial. Democratic strategist David Axelrod called the indictment “pretty sketchy.” E.G. Austin wrote in The Economist, “The veto was unusual and arguably petty, but almost certainly legal.” Texas Democrats have privately admitted they did not want to support Lehmberg’s reelection.
Perry calls it a "chilling restraint on the right to free speech. This indictment is fundamentally a political act that seeks to achieve at the courthouse what could not be achieved at the ballot box.”
Fortunately, the indictment was so over the top that Perry is likely to beat it, and it will serve as a deterrent to future political persecutions using the courts. It has brought to light a serious problem in our legal system, the partisan leftist bent of the judiciary and state bar associations. As attorney Michael McClelland once explained to me, this imbalance is a result of liberals’ attraction to easy government jobs and mind numbingly dull bar committees for their hobbies. Conservative lawyers would rather make money in the private sector, and, being more likely to have children, would rather spend time with their families rather than toil away their free time discussing things like diversity committees.
Ironically, the wrongful prosecution could catapult Perry into the White House, as Republicans rally around him. He is handling the ordeal graciously, coming across as a leader. Michael Lind, writing for Salon, warns Democrats they have overreached and it may backfire on them. He quotes Talleyrand, observing Napoleon’s execution of the Duc d’Enghien: “It is worse than a crime; it is a mistake.”
Looking at the big picture, the DUI offense by Lehmberg was atrocious and she should have resigned. For her to remain in office grossly undermines the rule of law. It wasn’t just a couple of drinks, and she’s not just any elected official, she is THE law enforcement official responsible for prosecuting DUIs. Perry correctly attempted to remove someone from office who could have potentially killed someone while drunk driving. If she had done the right thing and resigned, none of this would have ever happened.