March 18, 2011
It is with deep regret that we must announce that Earthjustice was forced to step down as the courtroom lawyer for wolves in the Northern Rockies in the two cases related to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s action to remove or reduce their Endangered Species Act protections. This action was not our choice, but a course of action compelled by our ethical responsibilities to our clients.
Our passion for the wolf is greater than ever. Our years of advocacy, along with our able partners, to promote wolf recovery and our successful legal battle against politically motivated and premature delisting of the wolves are some of our proudest achievements. Our attorneys have devoted tens of thousands of hours to this cause and would still be doing so, but for the conflict of interest among our clients that has compelled us to withdraw as counsel at this juncture.
As lawyers, there can come a point where we can no longer represent multiple clients in litigation because the clients’ interests become adverse to one another. There has been a divergence of positions among our clients in the litigation challenging the delisting of gray wolves; some favor settling the case, while others do not. That divergence has forced us to withdraw as counsel.
It is an understatement to say that this has been a trying experience for all involved. Our attorneys have done their utmost to provide our clients and the wolves with the very best representation in court, in Congress, in settlement negotiations, and in the public debate. Representing diverse clients is our strength, but when these divisions occur, we are propelled into this type of ethical quandary where the only legal option for us is to withdraw as courtroom lawyers, despite the years of hard work and passion we have invested in the cause.
Earthjustice remains firmly committed to the full recovery of the wolves of the northern Rockies. And we are stalwart in our defense of the Endangered Species Act and the vital protections that it provides for our nation’s wildlife. We will continue our work on Capitol Hill to protect wolves and the Endangered Species Act.
This is not the end of the fight—not by a long shot. We fully intend to be back in court fighting for the wolves when the time is right. For now, the battle is on Capitol Hill.
Trip Van Noppen