I have been critical of the representation afforded by Gloria Allred and her daughter Lisa Bloom in past cases, including the rapid calling of press conferences at the height of news cycles. Most recently I was critical of Allred’s handling of Roy Moore accuser Beverly Nelson, the press conference has not only resulted in her being nationally ridiculed but she was accused of falsifying Moore’s signature on a yearbook. Allred’s defense of her client on the charge has been so anemic and uncertain that many have taken it as a concession. Allred’s eagerness to hold press conferences gave Moore exactly what he hoped to find: a basis for challenging the veracity of his accusers. After numerous evasive interviews that played into Moore’s hand, Allred called another press event and admitted that Nelson did indeed write some of the words attributed to Moore in the yearbook. Now Moore can go into the final stretch of the election claiming that the victim’s evidence was not what she had claimed. It would have been better to have admitted this weeks ago, but Allred waited for the Friday before the election to bury her own gross negligence in the news cycle. This does not alter my view that the allegations against Moore are credible and disqualifying (including another witness who came forward this week), but rather than the blunder played into the hands of those who are struggling to ignore the moral hazard that is Roy Moore.
Beverly Young Nelson admitted that she added “notes” beneath Roy Moore’s signature in her high school yearbook. She says that she wrote “12-22-77 Olde Hickory House.” However, in the press conference with Allred in November, she knowingly misrepresented the facts about Moore writing all of these words. She stated: “He wrote in my yearbook as follows: ‘To a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say Merry Christmas, Christmas, 1977, Love, Roy Moore, Olde Hickory House. Roy Moore, DA.'”
Allred sat there and did not say a thing. She also remained silent about any knowledge during interviews in the days to come — without confirming forgery or denying it. The interviews with Allred were eagerly replayed by Moore supporters.
Either Allred never bothered to confirm that facts before taking her client into a national press conference or she played an active role in a misrepresentation to the media. Either way, she has again failed to meet the minimal standard for professional conduct. This is ultimately a question of due diligence. Of course, her client could have lied to her or failed to discuss, but Allred post-press conference conduct further undermined the credibility of both the client and counsel alike.
Moore was delighted and proclaimed today that Nelson is a liar (even though most of the writing remains allegedly Moore’s and the point that was establish a prior relationship). While Allred says that a handwriting expert found the rest was written by Moore, that is lost in the aftermath of this debacle. Moore announced: “Now she herself admits to lying.” Moore campaign attorney Phillip Jauregi was equally jubilant: “What [Nelson and Allred] said [in November] was either a lie or what they said today was a lie, and the voters are going to have to decide.”
Just for the record, if Allred knew that Moore had not written all of the words, it would run afoul of the spirit, if not the text, of the California State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, in Rule 5-120 on trial publicity. This rule applies to both investigations and litigation and says that an attorney “shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the member knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.” Such a violation includes a determination that “the extrajudicial statement presents information the member knows is false, deceptive, or the use of which would violate Business and Professions Code section 6068(d).”