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Bullies and bigots: Harvey Weinstein lawyer Ronald Sullivan forced from defense and historic Harvard post


FILE - In a Jan. 25, 2019 file photo, attorney and Harvard faculty member Ronald Sullivan Jr. arrives at New York Supreme Court, in New York. Sullivan, who decided to represent Harvey Weinstein at his rape trial, is losing his position as head of a student house at the college. Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana said in a written statement Saturday, May 11, 2019 that he would not renew the appointments of Ronald Sullivan and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, the school’s first black faculty deans, citing concerns about the climate at Winthrop House, which he described as serious and numerous. (Julio Cortez/AP)

No one is saying that Harvey Weinstein is not a morally-bankrupt monster charged with crimes against women that were an abject abuse of power.

No one is saying that.

But this is still America with a living, breathing Constitution that guarantees its citizens the right to a fair trial and a competent defense.

So, when exactly did it become acceptable to persecute a person’s lawyer for defending even the lowest members of society?

Let’s rephrase that. When did it become acceptable for the liberal elite to do so?

It wasn’t enough that the bullies and bigots resorted to death threats to force Harvard University law professor Ronald Sullivan to step down from disgraced movie mogul Weinstein’s legal defense team.

The once-noble university then took the unnecessary and gutless step of dropping him as a faculty dean at Harvard Law School, where he, along with his law professor wife, Stephanie Robinson, were the first African Americans to hold the positions at the school.

Support for Sullivan from 52 law professors was not enough to keep the Ivy League losers from caving in to pressure from misguided protesters.

Some university buildings had been defaced by graffiti, with one message asking Sullivan, “Whose side are you on?” Others read “Our rage is self-defense” and “Down w Sullivan!”

Absent from their objection to Sullivan was any mention of his storied career, which includes his work getting wrongful convictions overturned.

Sullivan and Robinson said in a statement that they were “surprised and dismayed by the action.”

“We are sorry that Harvard’s actions and the controversy surrounding us has contributed to the stress on Winthrop students at this already stressful time," the statement said.

Weinstein faces a trial on charges that he allegedly raped a woman he knew in his Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.

More than 80 women, including actresses Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, have accused Weinstein of sexual assault, harassment or other misconduct.

Sullivan's withdrawal notice to the court is scheduled to be made public Monday.

But the issue surrounding Sullivan’s status isn’t really about Weinstein. It’s about beating back the bullies and bigots who think they can dictate a defendant's defense.

Why the bigots? Well, let’s not overlook the racial overtones regarding Sullivan’s circumstances. No one remembers Alan Dershowitz, a white Harvard law professor still employed at the university, getting this kind of backlash when he was defending outcast O.J Simpson.

Speaking of Simpson, one of the lawyers who prosecuted him, Christopher Darden, recently found himself in the same boat with Sullivan.

Darden, a defense attorney now, was representing the man accused of murdering rapper Nipsey Hussle, but had to withdraw in the face of death threats.

What is going on here? This is as wrong as wrong gets. If a deep-pocketed pariah like Weinstein can’t have his pick of attorneys, then who can?

“Lawyers are not an extension of their clients,” Sullivan said recently. “Lawyers do law work, not the work of ideology. When I’m in my lawyer capacity, representing a client, even one publicly vilified, it doesn’t mean I’m supporting anything the client may have done.”