Goofus and Gallant Down in the Ninth District

Goofus and Gallant

Apologies to anyone who sees this post as beating the dead horse one too many times. But I want to call your attention to a superlative piece of reporting on the denouement of the Mark Harris election debacle down in North Carolina’s ninth congressional district. It appeared in the New Yorker at 5:00 AM this morning, and is titled The Tearful Drama of North Carolina’s Election-Fraud Hearings.

Appearing as Goofus is the Reverend Doctor Mark Harris, graduate of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; erstwhile pastor of the First Baptist Church of Charlotte, North Carolina; serial candidate for political office on the Republican ticket; and the owner of a severely defective moral compass.

A number of others appear in supporting roles, notably one John Branch, “the lawyer for Harris’s campaign,” who didn’t turn over all the documents he shoulda orter have turned over to the Elections Commission.

As the New Yorker article lays out, Messrs. Harris, Branch, and their confederates not only lied, but lied very unskillfully.

Appearing as Gallant was John Harris, U.S. attorney and son of the Reverend Doctor Harris, who kept his head high and testified truthfully to what he had to testify about.

But I want to call particular attention to David Freedman, Esquire, “Harris’s personal lawyer.”

When your client is in the process of committing perjury, the rules of legal ethics don’t allow you to just sit there like a potted plant. You have got to find a way to halt the proceedings, talk to your client, and have him correct his inaccurate testimony. If he won’t do it, then you have got to resign as his counsel.

The rule is clear. But the rule is not easy to obey, in the moment. Kudos to Mr. Friedman for doing what he had to do. (According to the New Yorker article, this was the first time in thirty years of criminal defense practice that Freedman had to hop up and down because his client was lying his head off.)

Yes, I know. Freedman was doing no more than what the law clearly required him to do. But sometimes just doing the right thing requires courage.

In the end, Gallant won and Goofus lost. Bigly. My virtual daughter, Pollyanna, has urged me to take some solace from this outcome.

Meanwhile, if courtroom drama interests you, please go read the New Yorker piece.