For free legal cases, Miers looked close to home, office

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) &045; Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers looked close to home, or the office, in choosing the free legal cases to take on as a private lawyer. No sweeping constitutional matters for her, or even terribly contentious ones.

She helped a garage attendant for her building complete an adoption. She won a case for a Nigerian woman who was fighting a deportation order. She lost when representing an indigent single mother denied disability benefits.

&8221;She handled small matters,&8220; said lawyer Jerry Clements, who has worked with Miers. &8221;Somebody needed a divorce, somebody needed an adoption.&8220;

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As head of the State Bar of Texas, she urged lawyers to take on more pro bono, or unpaid, cases for the poor, but she resisted proposals to make such work mandatory. &8221;The real issue is how to provide more services of better quality to the poor who need them,&8220; she said.

Her Dallas law firm, Locke Liddell & Sapp LLP, didn’t keep track of how many free cases she accepted or how many hours she devoted to them, and associates are not aware of her doing so on a frequent basis.

In any event, her pro bono cases were strikingly more private or limited in legal precedent than those taken on by Chief Justice John Roberts when he worked as a lawyer at the Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson for some 13 years.