Bar Exam

Pardoned ex-soldier plans to take the bar exam; is he unfit for practice?

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Clint Lorance in front of a painting of an American flag

Clint Lorance was pardoned by former President Donald Trump after serving six years of an 18-year sentence for second-degree murder, among other charges. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

A former Army lieutenant who was convicted of second-degree murder for ordering his men to fire on three men in Afghanistan hopes to become a lawyer after his pardon by former President Donald Trump.

Clint Lorance graduated from the Appalachian School of Law in May and hopes to take the Oklahoma Bar Exam later this month. But a weapons squad leader who served as a staff sergeant under Lorance, Mike McGuinness, opposes his admission to the bar in an Army Times op-ed.

Lorance was convicted by a military court for ordering his men to fire on three men riding a motorcycle toward his platoon in July 2012, three days after he assumed command of 1st Platoon of the 82nd Airborne Division. The platoon was on a routine patrol to let local villagers know about an upcoming meeting with U.S. forces. Two of the motorcycle riders died and a third was wounded. No weapons were found on or near the men, according to testimony noted by the Washington Post.

In the Army Times op-ed, McGuinness says Lorance confronted him and a staff sergeant after the shooting and asked, “What are we going to do about this?”

Asking for a cover-up “is pretty damning evidence of a lack of moral fiber,” McGuinness writes. “What displays that even more is Lorance’s insistence that he was the victim, his complete lack of remorse, and his failure to take accountability for his actions in Afghanistan.”

McGuinness also cites an account that Lorance threatened women and children who sought to collect the bodies after the shooting. And McGuinness points to problems with the opinion of a biometrics expert used by the defense who contended the victims’ fingerprints identified them as people tied to bombs or bombmaking materials.

Bearded man sits on his porch“You don’t go into the military thinking you are going to be part of a war crimes case,” Mike McGuinness told the Washington Post in a 2020 article about Clint Lorance and the 1st Platoon called “The Cursed Platoon.” (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

There was apparently a misidentification, since one of the supposed dead men was arrested several times by U.S. forces after the shooting, according to a journalist’s book and New York Times story cited by McGuinness.

“We deserved better in 2012, and potential clients deserve better now,” McGuinness writes. “Clint Lorance is a free man and should be able to live out his days, hopefully staying within the law and doing whatever it is he enjoys doing. But at no point should he ever again hold a position of power or influence over people. He has shown that he cannot be trusted with that.”

A second soldier who served under Lorance, Todd Fitzgerald, also publicly opposes Lorance’s admission to the bar. He wrote about his opposition in a Twitter thread that was reported on by the Daily Beast.

Lorance had served six years of his 18-year prison sentence when he was pardoned, according to the Daily Beast.

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