In 1975 Hillary Rodham was appointed to defend Thomas Alfred Taylor who was accused of raping a 12-year-old.

As a public defender, could she have refused the case? She said she didn't want to do it. What could have happened to her if she refused the case?


No. She was lawfully ordered by a judge presiding over the case, and, as a member of the bar, she had no right to refuse that appointment. She did, in fact, request that the judge choose a different attorney, but that request was declined.


FactCheck.org - provides general background on case

Arkansas Judicial Rule 8.2 - Appointment of Counsel, which provides that:

Attorneys so appointed shall continue to represent the indigent accused until relieved for good cause or until substituted by other counsel.

Edit: Regarding penalties for noncompliance, refusing to represent the accused would be considered criminal contempt under state law, which provides in 16-10-108(a)(3) Arkansas Code that "willful disobedience of any process or order lawfully issued or made by it [the court]" is punishable as a Class C Misdemeanor, at least according to 2010 law. Also, professional sanctions might be involved, IANAL so no experience there.

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