It’s Their State; We Just Wallow in It
Such outrages are so common as to lose their status as such, in this state, but more interesting than the General Assembly leadership’s decision to compensate a former colleague for eight-year-old legal fees is the point of view that House Speaker Bill Murphy betrays in defending the action:
“No, it doesn’t set a precedent,” echoed Murphy.
The chairman of the legislative leadership committee that made the decision — House Speaker William J. Murphy — said he urged state payment of Harwood lawyer, Lauren Jones, because he saw the complaint as an assault on Rhode Island’s “citizen-based legislature” and more specifically, on lawyer-legislators like himself who need to earn a livelihood.
At first, I thought that the second quotation cast the $25,540 as deliberately setting a precedent that would protect citizen-legislator-lawyers, making Murphy’s other statement a contradiction, but Senator (lawyer) Teresa Paiva Weed changed my mind when she suggested that “each case would have to be evaluated on its facts.”
Y’see, it doesn’t create a precedent because the General Assembly leadership doesn’t operate according to such rules. When everything is at the whim of a half-dozen legislators, there’s no such thing as precedent. The winning argument is whichever they happen to prefer in any given case, at any given time.