When it comes to politics this year, you need to remember the following rule of thumb; when the DFL or one of their affiliated blogs writes about Tom Emmer, you need to distrust, and then verify. Because the ratio of BS to truth is the worst I’ve ever seen. Ever.
When I was a kid, growing up in small-town North Dakota, one of my dad’s best friends was a lawyer. The guy took all sorts of cases; wills, divorces, probate and wills, criminal defense, criminal prosecution, civil litigation, commercial litigation, contracts, and pretty much anything else that came through his office door. He was also in the rotation for public defender duty, and for helping out the prosecution, and he did a stretch as municipal judge (carefully watching for conflicts of interest).
So if I were to write this lawyer “was a defense attorney”, someone could read the above and bellow “HAH, Berg, you are teh lier! He is a civil litigator!” And you’d be right. And you’d also be proving you need a reality check.
The law, especially small-market law, is full of such things; small-town prosecutors contract with general practice lawyers to help with caseloads without adding headcount; small-town public defenders offices may not even have a lawyer, but get lawyers from the local bar (legal, not liquid) to help out; it’s not unknown for an indigent accused murderer to be represented by someone whose “specialty”, if you can call it that, is probate.
And let’s not forget those lawyers have to keep their fields straight, as a matter of professional ethics, while avoiding conflicts of interest.
We’ll come back to that.
Last week, Jeff Rosenberg at MNPublius figured he’d “caught the Emmer campaign lying”.
Emmer’s opponents have been carping for months about the fact that Emmer:
- Got drunk driving-related convictions in 1981 and 1991 – twenty and thirty years ago. When he was 19 and 29.
- He paid his debt to society, decades ago, exactly as he was supposed to.
- During the 2008 session, he pushed two bills: one that would have given convicted drunk drivers some of their rights back after ten years of good behavior, and one that would have upheld the radical notion of considering drunk drivers innocent until proven guilty.We’ve talked about this before.
The left has spent the past week or so spending a half a million dollars of Alita Messinger’s money talking about the DWI “issue”; the offenses, and Emmer’s supposed “soft on DUI” policies.
That’s all bad enough. But as we’ve learned this past few weeks, “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” is a reliable liar. More on that at noon today.
I’m less used to calling Twin Cities’ DFLbot-blog MNPublius on basic integrity.
But this piece at by Rosenberg, entitled “Emmer’s DWI bill written at the request of DWI attorneys,” walks up to the line between ambiguity and deception, piddles on it, walks back, jumps into a monster truck, spins cookies on the line, and drives across past the “FLAMING FIB-VILLE, 2 MILES” sign at 80 miles an hour.
Here’s “the scoop”:
I already wrote about this a bit below, but I buried the lede. The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a major story that Tom Emmer’s DWI bill was written at the request of DWI defense attorneys, especially because he’s obviously trying to mislead the public about that:
On his campaign website, Emmer said: “At the request of local prosecutors, Rep. Emmer agreed to author their bill to reform the court system and how DWIs are handled. The legislation prepared by the prosecutors and other interested parties with the assistance of nonpartisan House research staff would have provided incentives for early and immediate prosecution of first-time offenders.”
The Emmer campaign identified the “local prosecutors” as Tom Weidner and Sean Stokes, and said they are based in Stillwater, Washington County. Stokes and Weidner are attorneys specializing in DWI defense, according to the website of their law firm Eckberg, Lammers, Briggs, Wolff & Vierling. [Emphasis mine]
Local prosecutors? Excuse me? Once again, Emmer may not technically be lying, but he’s also definitely not being straight with us. He’s trying to make it sound like this bill was written to help local law enforcement officials, when in fact it was written at the request of DWI defense attorneys.
“Emmer may not technically be lying”? No. He is in fact telling the truth. Knowing that Stokes and Weidner worked both as contract prosecutors and “DWI Defense Attorneys”, I asked a source familiar with the case in which capacity the two lawyers operated while discussing this bill:
The only thing I know about that is that Weidner said no cities asked them to ask for bill & Stokes id’ed self as [prosecutor] during testimony. Probably fair to say Weidner and Stokes argued for bill based on their prosecutor experience, but not b/c of any city’s request.
Now, if Jeff Rosenberg would like to suggest that Tom Weidner and Sean Stokes – who are, let’s remember, officers of the court – blurred the ethical boundaries of their field while giving testimony to the Legislature on these bills, I’m sure the Bar Association would be interested in hearing about it. Bring actual evidence, of course.
However, if you believe WCCO, in a story they ran when this “issue” first came up before the MNGOP convention, that’s just not true; Weidner and Stokes do prosecution work.
But OK – so maybe Rosenberg doesn’t know how the practice of downmarket law works. That’s hardly a grave offense, is it?
Well, no. But a misleading presentation of facts is.
Using the facts above, Rosenberg writes that Emmer wrote the bill “…at the request of DWI defense attorneys”, and that Weidner “…must have been acting in his capacity as a defense attorney” and declares “Stokes and Weidner are attorneys specializing in DWI defense, according to the website of their law firm Eckberg, Lammers, Briggs, Wolff & Vierling….You can see that these are clearly not the people who should be responsible for crafting our DWI laws”.
He accompanies this claim with a screenshot from the law firm’s website that shows Weidner and Stokes “specialize” in DUI law. This has, in fact, been the chanting point among local leftybloggers and twitterbuildup; “Emmer operated on behalf of DWI defense specialists”
So I checked the website.
Turns out Kevin Weidner also “specializes” in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death, Auto Accidents (including, ironically, sueing people who kill or injure people in DUIs!), and general Criminal Defense (of everything from juvenile crimes to murder). And there’s more; check out his page at the firm. And that doesn’t include the contract prosecution work.
And in addition to DUI, Sean Stokes “specializes” in Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, and general Criminal Law. Here’s his bio page.
So the left’s defamatory meme notwithstanding, Weidner and Stokes are not “DWI Defense specialists”; indeed, as we’ve seen above, they litigate for both the plaintiff and defendant in DWI cases for their practice, in addition to prosecution work for whom the client, the plaintiff, is Washington County.
(Is it even possible to “specialize” in a firms’ entire criminal and family area?)
So, to use Rosenberg’s term, MNPublius and the rest of the Minnesota Sorosphere that is spreading the “Emmer works for DWI defense lawyers” meme aren’t “Technically” lying; they are just presenting a set of facts that is so cherrypicked and misleading that nobody reading their account stands a snowball’s chance in hell of learning the truth.
So – why does the local left feel the need to spread such a defamatory lie? Because lies are the only weapon they have against Tom Emmer?
And Jeff Rosenberg – why is MNPublius, once a leftyblog with integrity (Aaron Landry notwithstanding) participating in such a transparent wad of buncombe?
At the very least, shouldn’t your piece have been titled “Emmer’s DWI bill written at the request of after consulting attorneys who defend and sue DWIs, among pretty much every other area of criminal and family law, as well as DWI prosecution”?
It doesn’ troll off the tongue, but it’s more accurate.
Do the state a favor, Minnesota Left; put a fork in this stupid meme. Move on to your next lie.
We’ll be waiting.