09:49, June 07 369 0 law.com

2017-06-07 09:49:05
Paul Clement, NRA File to Appear in Sandy Hook Litigation
Paul Clement of Kirkland & Ellis (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)


Paul D. Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general and one of the country’s foremost litigators, is working once again with the National Rifle Association in an effort to get the largest gun lobby to write an amicus brief in the lawsuit filed by Sandy Hook families.

The conservative-leaning Clement, who’s been a go-to attorney for the NRA on Second Amendment issues, is looking to represent the association as an amicus curiae in the lawsuit pitting several families of Sandy Hook victims against two gun manufacturers. The NRA’s request to file an amicus brief is pending before the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The families are suing gun makers Remington and Bushmaster for liability, claiming the AR-15 used by Adam Lanza in the December 2012 massacre was “a weapon of war” that the companies chose to market to the general public.

Hartford attorney Kenneth Slater Jr., who represents the gun makers, filed a motion on May 31 asking the state Supreme Court to allow Clement, a partner with Kirkland & Ellis, to appear despite not having a license to practice in the state.

Clement is a member of the D.C., Virginia and Wisconsin bars. A similar request was made for Kirkland associate C. Harker Rhodes IV.

Clement has been an important NRA ally over the years. He filed an amicus brief in 2013 with the U.S. Supreme Court to support a Maryland man’s challenge to his state’s law that bans carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense purposes, unless the individual has a permit that’s only obtained with proof of “good and substantial reasons” for fearing one’s safety. The NRA is turning to him again in the Sandy Hook litigation, which has renewed debates over gun safety.

In the motion, Clement writes, “I have a significant attorney-client relationship with the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action.” Clement added, “I have acquired specialized skill and knowledge of the affairs of the NRA-ILA.”

Slater, a partner with Halloran & Sage, declined to comment Tuesday. Clement was not available for a comment Tuesday.

Clement served as solicitor general from 2004 to 2008 under President George W.  Bush. Clement was one of several top lawyers who are said to have rebuffed White House requests to represent President Donald Trump in the ongoing Russia investigation. No other lawyer has argued more U.S. Supreme Court cases since 2000 than Clement, according to his biography on his law firm’s website.

A key element of the case involves “negligent entrustment,” which occurs when a party provides a product to another party knowing that party may injure someone. The families maintain that the gun makers did or should have known that the weapon used by Lanza was extremely dangerous. Lanza fired 154 bullets from his Bushmaster AR-15 in about five minutes during his killing spree.

The gun makers have countered that their weapon was sold legally to Lanza’s mother and have pointed to a decision to dismiss the case in October by Fairfield District Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis. Bellis wrote, in part, “the allegations in the present case do not fit within the common-law tort of negligent entrustment under well-established Connecticut law, nor do they come within [the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act]‘s definition of negligent entrustment.” The law, the judge wrote, broadly prohibits lawsuits against gun makers, distributors, dealers and importers from harm caused by the criminal misuse of their firearms.

The families have until Friday to file their next set of motions with the court.