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Starr Says Independent Counsels Aren't Government Employees

By Bob Franken/CNN


SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr, criticized for maintaining his private law practice, said today Congress never intended independent counsels to become full-time government employees.

In a speech to the Federal Bar Association, Starr said: "To the contrary, it was expressly contemplated that individuals, while giving careful attention to their official demands, would remain with their law firms."


Starr has been criticized for continuing to practice law on behalf of clients who some have characterized as having conflicts of interest. To tie up the independent counsel on one matter, said Starr "wastes ... the legal talents of individuals called to serve." And, he said, Congress feared forcing individuals to separate from their private practices "would ... reduce the pool of more senior attorneys willing to take on the task."

Congress, said Starr, "....specifically rejected a proposal to require independent counsels to become full-time government employees." In addition to carrying out the Whitewater investigation, Starr recently appeared before a federal appeals court in New Orleans to argue against class action status for suits against his clients, several major tobacco companies.

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