The right to counsel is a bed rock principle of our legal system. As such, it’ s rarely questioned. It’s an assumption that we all take pretty much for granted. Well, not anymore. Harvard University Deans Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, may continue to teach at Harvard Law. But they lost their jobs as deans because of their decision to join the defense team of former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who faces charges of sexual misconduct.
Rhakesh Khurana, the dean of Harvard College, described the decision as a result of concerns about “the climate” at Winthrop House, the institution that Sullivan and Robinson had led since 2009. While there was some attempt to portray the pair as having been the subject of prior controversies, there was little doubt that the main reason for climate change at Winthrop was the fact that the two legal scholars had become part of a new “dream team” that would attempt to keep the country’s most notorious #MeToo villain out of prison.
This isn’t the first time that the Sullivans have represented notorious clients but it is the first time they’ve faced dismissal.
During the last decade, while both taught at Harvard Law and presided over Winthrop House, Sullivan — who has specialized in attempts to overturn what he considers to be wrongful convictions — represented Ussaamah Rahim, an accused terrorist who had been shot by the Boston Police.
But Weinstein was the first controversial Sullivan client who fit into categories toward which academic elites are generally unsympathetic. The former Hollywood mogul is the poster child for #MeToo villainy, with more than 80 women having alleged that he was guilty of sexual misconduct against them, up to and including rape.
This is where the #MeToo movement goes off the rails. If Weinstein is guilty, try him in a court of law and let a jury decide. However, the movement wants him tried, drawn and quartered in the court of public opinion. That’s just not how we serve justice in this country. If that’s who we’re becoming I want no part of it.