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Op-Ed: Don’t take the poisonous advice from the Boise swamp

by ART MACOMBER/Special to The Press
| October 29, 2021 1:00 AM

Former Idaho Attorney General Jim Jones asks readers to swallow the Kool-Aid on his bad legal theories about what is good legal advice. (“Law Applies to These Candidates Too,” Guest Opinion, Oct. 22). To Mr. Jones, good legal advice is apparently telling the client what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

The current AG’s advice to the Lieutenant Governor was bad lawyering. How do we know this? The answer is that the AG’s office told us. Even Jones agrees the AG’s office “tellingly commented” that the kerfuffle was “an excellent demonstration of why government should seek legal counsel that it needs to hear instead of what it wants to hear.” Bad lawyering occurs when a client is told what they WANT to hear, instead of how the law actually applies to the facts, i.e., what they NEED to hear. The AG’s office did not tell the Lieutenant Governor what legal advice she needed to hear. That was bad lawyering.

I am frankly shocked that such an esteemed member of the Idaho Bar would support this insidious brand of lawyering. This is exactly the cynical practice that gives lawyers a bad name: soak the client even if they don’t have a case. I have spent my legal career fighting lazy attorneys looking to soak clients out of their hard-earned money while their attorney lives on easy street.

Conversely, a quick, short legal opinion in April telling the Lieutenant Governor that whistleblowers would not be protected in Idaho would not have provided the tar and feathers needed to smear her campaign. And now from his crypt former AG Jones wields the tar brush again. Shame on him.

This is why I called for the AG’s office to pay the Lieutenant Governor’s legal bills, which include the amount levied against her office in the Amended Judgment to pay the Idaho Press Club’s legal bills. The Lieutenant Governor is not a lawyer, was reasonably and by statute dependent on the AG’s counsel, but it told her what she wanted to hear to protect whistleblowers, instead of what she needed to hear, which was that the Idaho Public Records Act does not protect whistleblowers.

Given the quality of his guest opinion and analysis, a reasonable observer may conclude that problems in the AG’s office incompetently handling the law go back to Mr. Jones’s tenure in the 1980s. Good lawyering doesn’t tell people what they want to hear, it tells them what they need to hear. And what Idaho citizens need to hear is that Idaho should have a fighter in the AG’s office who does not use his power for political persecutions. My election will ensure that result.

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Art Macomber is a candidate for the Idaho Attorney General.

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