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Gonzales Stripped of ABA Lawyer of the Year Title

December 15, 2007

The indignities never seem to end for former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. On Wednesday, I reported that the Journal of the American Bar Association had named Gonzales its 2007 "Lawyer of the Year". Now, just two days later, the ABA has bowed to the public outcry and announced it would strip Gonzales of his title. Instead, the ABA is bestowing a Miss Congeniality prize on him, relabeling Gonzales the "Newsmaker of the Year."
Apparently, the ABA was too smart by half in giving Gonzales such recognition. As I noted in my earlier piece, the publishers of the ABA Journal were quite clear that their award did not recognize positive contributions to the legal profession per se, but to the person having the greatest impact (good or bad). Earlier this week, As Edward A. Adams, the Journal's editor and publisher, described the "absolute value" calculation behind Gonzales' victory:

"It's about who has had the most effect in the world of lawyers this year. We're not saying Gonzales is good or bad. We're just saying this is the leading newsmaker in our part of the world."

Alas, after the hue and cry resulting from their selection of Gonzales, the ABA decided discretion was the better part of valor. On Friday, Adams announced the change of heart:

The ABA Journal posted an article titled "Lawyers of the Year 2007 & 2008" on ABA, on Dec. 12, 2007. The article defined that term as the year's biggest legal newsmaker, identifying former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as the major newsmaker of 2007. The Journal regrets that we did not make this theme clear.
We appreciate the feedback we've received, and we're acting on it. So that there can be no confusion, the term "Lawyers of the Year" has been changed in the headline and story to "Newsmakers of the Year." The story is otherwise unchanged from its original version.

Alberto Gonzales could be forgiven for asking what a guy has to do (aside from lying to Congress on at least three occasions, purging U.S. attorneys, authorizing illegal domestic surveillance, enabling torture by the United States, just to name a few of his accomplishments) to get a little respect. In November, after all, Gonzales was heckled and embarrassed at the University of Florida during his first post-Bush speech. Days later, Pomona College rescinded its speaking invitation to Gonzales due to universal student disinterest - and the former AG's whopping $35,000 fee.
So, two cheers for Alberto Gonzales, the ABA's Newsmaker of the Year, along with the other Republican award recipients we'd like to see.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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