The judge assigned to the sexual harassment case against President Clinton was once his student and campaigned against him in his unsuccessful run for Congress in 1974, a newspaper specializing in legal issues reported Sunday.
The report in the weekly National Law Journal depicts what might be interpreted as an adversarial relationship between Clinton and his former pupil, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright.But sources in legal circles said the past association between the president and Wright was no cause for concern. She is viewed as highly competent by members of the Arkansas Bar, including Clinton's Little Rock attorney.
"She's solid," lawyer Stephen Engstrom said of Wright, though he declined to address the issue of a potential conflict of interest stemming from his client's past dealings with Wright.
Engstrom is assisting Washington attorney Robert Bennett in Clinton's defense against the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against Clinton by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones.
Wright, a staunch Republican appointed to the bench in 1989 by then-President George Bush, faces an unprecedented question in a case, which as the National Law Journal points out, she was assigned at random.
She must decide whether a lawsuit against the president involving pre-presidential activity should be delayed until the president leaves office. Jones in her lawsuit alleges that Clinton sexually harassed her while Arkansas governor in 1991.