18 February 2013

West Virginia's Solicitor General and the King of the Cowboys; How I Nearly Insulted Both

Our ever-smiling new Attorney General walked right into a perfect storm. Walked into it? Heck, he created it.

Patrick Morrissey created a top position in the AG’s office and called it “Solicitor General” Then, he hired a Washington lawyer to fill it for the unheard of salary of $132,000 per year.

And then – drum roll – it turns out that the new Solicitor General doesn’t have a West Virginia law license!

Oh, the irony is delicious. We endured 20 years of occasional gaffes from Darrell McGraw, but now the White Knight Reformers have stumbled right out of the starting gate. This is all a scribbler of little political diatribes could wish for.

And so, a blog post full of pious sarcasm perked away in our mind.

Then, just to look for some “color,” I checked out Elbert Lin, the almost-Solicitor General. After all, he could be a PETA activist or Bilderberger or something. Dirt, we want dirt!


There is a lesson here, even for a banged up scribe with a few miles on the odometer.

Elbert Lin is qualified. He really doesn’t deserve the noise he is getting.

Mind you, he’s a Yalie and a DC lawyer. We don’t tend to like those folks. They’re just not “people like us.”

The only Yale-trained lawyer I know is my friend Justice Richard Neely. He’s a caustic son of Fairmont and New Haven. I’ve always loved to argue with him and to read anything he writes. And, it does appear that Yale Law School gives lawyers a pretty decent education.

The whole DC lawyer thing is a problem, but you have to pause when you find out how he got there. Right out of law school, Mr. Lin clerked for federal judges. Then he was hired to clerk at the United States Supreme Court for Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas is not my favorite judge by far, but he signs learned opinions which I cannot make heads or tails of. The law clerks write much of those opinions. Traditionally, only the very best law graduates clerk at the Supreme Court.

Some of Lin’s writing is available on the Internet. While it lacks the folksy mountain patois, his writing shows that he is a really intelligent and thoughtful fellow.

From the Supreme Court, Lin went to the litigation department of a huge DC law firm. Maybe if we criticize that, there’s a little jealousy thing going on.

Some stones are thrown at the notion that Lin took a pay cut to come to Charleston and earn his $11,000 per month. Okay, we figure he’ll be eating regularly on that wage. But it’s still a wage cut. He didn’t have to do it.

The lack of a law license for “Solicitor General” is confusing. Does a solicitor general need a license? Beats me. We never had a solicitor general before. It’s not defined by state law. (There is a code section that puts “solicitor” next to “pimp and panderer,” but that’s probably not what’s intended.) Let’s face it, it’s kind of a pompous title, but it’s Morrissey’s office. He could have called his top assistant “King of the Cowboys.” Does the King of the Cowboys need a law license? Beats me.

What we have is a well-qualified guy coming to West Virginia, carpet bag in hand. That alone is enough of a hurdle for him to leap. He deserves a chance to show his merit.

I do have one criticism: The AG showed political weakness in changing Lin’s title to “senior assistant.” He could have told critics to kiss off because Lin was not going to violate any of the rules of law practice until his license came through.

I still like “King of the Cowboys” better.

1 comment:

Jim N said...

Hilarious patois, Roger. I bet persons of Lin's ilk are the only reason the Clarence Thomases of this world look like they have any sense at all. Mind-boggling, but sadly true.