Yesterday, David Corn of Mother Jones Magazine published the following article: “As a Lawyer, Ted Cruz Defended Huge Jury Awards. As a Politician, He Opposed Them.”
The article describes Ted Cruz’s involvement in two New Mexico appellate cases while in private practice, Keith v. ManorCare, Inc. and Selk v. Res-Care New Mexico, Inc. In those cases, Cruz represented the plaintiffs, and defended huge punitive damages awards in nursing home negligence cases; $50 million in Keith, and $49.2 million in Selk. (Disclosure: I was part of the legal team that overturned the Keith verdict on appeal, and fought against Cruz).
Corn implies that Cruz is a hypocrite, and says his involvement in Keith and Selk “does raise a question: How could the senator who hails tort reform argue in favor of preserving the megamillion-dollar jury awards that tort reform advocates decry and seek to eliminate?”
The answer is that when attorneys represent clients, they are presenting the clients’ positions and arguments, and not necessarily their own. New Mexico Rule of Professional Conduct 16-102(B) explicitly provides that “A lawyer’s representation of a client … does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political economic, social or moral views or activities.” Indeed, Cruz would have acted unethically if he had done anything other than zealously argue to reinstate the punitive damages awards that his clients obtained.
Reasonable people can disagree with Ted Cruz’s political positions, and there may be many good reasons not to support him for President, should he choose to seek that office, but his representation of the plaintiffs in Keith and Selk is not one of them.