Matt Hale will no longer consider prominent attorney Alan Dershowitz to represent him in his court appeal to obtain an Illinois law license.
Hale, who was refused a law license in December because of his white supremacist beliefs, announced March 23 that Dershowitz will no longer represent him in his appeal because he found Dershowitz to be unreasonable in his pricing.
Dershowitz, a Jewish attorney renowned for championing civil rights and First Amendment cases, asked Hale for $585 an hour for his services more than Hale was willing to spend.
Dershowitz also required him to waive his right to confidentiality, which according to Hale is unheard of in an attorney-client relationship.
Dershowitz issued a general statement March 24:I imposed certain conditions on representation for Matthew Hale. After reviewing those conditions, Matthew Hale has decided to select another lawyer, which is certainly his right.
Dershowitz was not available for further comment.
Hale accused Dershowitz of making his case a political show.
This was an attempt to humiliate me, and I just wouldn’t stand for that idea, Hale said.
Hale was refused a law license by a three-judge state panel that evaluates the character and fitness of state bar applicants. Although he passed the state bar exam, the panel voted two to one to deny Hale a license because of his outspoken beliefs as the leader of the white supremacist World Church of the Creator. Hale graduated from the SIU School of Law last May.
According to Hale, Dershowitz had never intended to come to Illinois for the hearing in the first place. He was going to have another attorney in Chicago handle the case.
Why have him as my attorney if he’s not even going to come to Illinois? Hale said. The whole point was to have him argue on my behalf.
I think it surprised him I didn’t hire him. I think he’s disappointed, but that’s too bad.
I didn’t like his attitude or approach. I wanted to have an attorney that was more on my side.
He has found an attorney that may be more on his side. He has since hired St. Louis attorney Robert Herman of Schwartz, Herman and Davidson. Herman has handled at least two free-speech cases for the Ku Klux Clan.
Herman defended the KKK Realm of Missouri in December when they sued a St. Louis public radio station for not accepting a subscription drive gift to sponsor its news program All Things Considered.
The U.S. District Court ruled that the state-owned radio station is not required to accept underwriting support from the KKK. However, Herman will try to appeal the decision.
The hypocrisy of the situation intrigues me, Herman told the Washington Post. They would allow a Mercedes dealer to sponsor the program, the NAACP, B’nai B’rith, and all of a sudden they’re asserting editorial policy against the Klan. What would stop them from saying, we don’t like Jews, either?’ Nothing.
In a similar case, Herman defended the Missouri Klan when the State of Missouri refused to allow the Klan’s application to adopt a highway.
Herman commented Monday that he has often defended those whose rights have been denied. Often these organizations or individuals have opinions that are not popular, but he said he needs to preserve their right to express it. The Jewish attorney does not share Hale’s political or ideological views.
Hale’s appeal will take place at 9:30 a.m. at the River Valley Detention Center in Joliet April 10.
According to Hale, the case is easy to prepare for because there is a lot of First Amendment precedent.
I expect to win, said Hale. I think that if they follow the law, I’ll win. The law is clearly on my side here.
Herman cautiously shares Hale’s optimism.
Based on the law, he should get his law license, Herman said. His right to be free of government interference based on his beliefs is well established.
Hale plans to defend himself with a 1971 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states no one can inquire about a bar applicant’s political beliefs.
The East Peoria native contends that he never should have been asked about his political beliefs, and any inquiry into those beliefs was improper.
He will ultimately prevail, Herman said.