Election Law, Lawyer of the Day, Politics, Williams Mullen

Former Lawyer of the Day: Temporarily Homeless, Currently on Unemployment

Scenic Portsmouth VA.JPGA few months ago, we reported on the saga of Mark Hardman. He was an attorney for the commonwealth in Portsmouth, VA. But he was fired after only five months on the job. He claims that his termination stemmed from his decision to run for public office, against his boss. Back in March, we noted:

[Hardman was fired] most likely because Hardman decided that he should be the boss, after only five months on the job:
“A 27-year-old prosecutor in Portsmouth said he was fired because he plans to challenge incumbent Harvey Bryant for Virginia Beach commonwealth’s attorney.”

Incumbent Harvey Bryant denies the charges.
Hardman’s campaign continues, but it seems that he continues his fight at great personal cost. The Virginian-Pilot reports some difficult circumstances for Mr. Hardman:

The challenger in the race for commonwealth’s attorney hasn’t had a fixed address in the city since June 1 and last month filed for unemployment benefits in Newport News….
“I wasn’t prepared, financially, to lose my job at that point in the election cycle,” he said. “It had an impact on my living situation, and I continued to… take all steps that were necessary to maintain my residency in Virginia Beach.”
Without a job, Hardman said he was unable to sign a new lease in June, and he couldn’t afford the summer rent for his home on 75th Street. That address was the only one on file for Hardman’s residence as of Wednesday at the Beach general registrar’s office.
Hardman said filing for unemployment benefits in Newport News shouldn’t have any effect on his residency. He said he has used his mother’s house as a billing address for about 10 years.

That is the kind of situation that makes standing on the breadline so terrifying.
After the jump, Mark Hardman responds to these reports.

On his campaign blog, Hardman explains the full timeline of his situation:

In order to create a full timeline, I will detail events beginning at the start of my legal career.
1. During the summers of 2005 and 2006, I interned in the Virginia Beach office of Williams Mullen.
2. Following the Bar Exam in the summer of 2007, I moved from Charlottesville to the north-end of Virginia Beach (74th Street). My lease expired June 1, 2008.
3. In June of 2008, I stayed in Norfolk in a Granby Street apartment prior to returning to the north-end of Virginia Beach (60th Street).
4. In August, 2008, I submitted my resignation to Williams Mullen.
5. Following my resignation, I studied at a Spanish language school in Ecuador during September and October of 2008.
6. Upon my return to the states, I stayed with my family in Newport News from October 2008 until February 2009.
7. From February 2009 until the end of May, I shared a Virginia Beach duplex with …, a former attorney at Williams Mullen.
8. From May 2009 until July 2009, I worked pro bono doing Christian human rights work in Quito, Ecuador.
9. During July 2009 and August 2009, I spent time at my family´s house in Newport News, First-Landing State Park and Quito, Ecuador.
10. Early August 2009, I filed for unemployment insurance. The address used on the application was my family´s address in Newport News, Virginia.
11. August 13, 2009, I returned to Quito, Ecuador to continue my human rights work prior to returning to Virginia Beach (September 10) to my new address on South Atlantic Avenue in Croatan.

Hardman claims that his friend, the attorney at Williams Mullen, was fired for supporting Hardman’s campaign. When we called Williams Mullen, the firm denied the allegations.
In an email to Above the Law, Hardman focused on what he claims was his wrongful termination that set this all in motion in the first place:

-applied for unemployment insurance in August.
-I am scheduled for a hearing September 21 to find out whether I was at fault for my termination. Presumably, the Constitution of the United States applies. We shall see. The employment commission to this point has stated that I have a right to a telephonic interview lasting 30 minutes, but no more and not in person. I also have the right to counsel.
-have been contacting AMLaw 200 firms for interviews without success (imagine that).
-and at no time, have i claimed that i should be entitled to unemployment benefits while out of the country, this of course is implied in the story.
-This is all about the 1st Amendment, and it is clear. An employer violates the first amendment if he/she
1. is a public actor (CA is a public actor)
2. speech is of a public concern (doesn´t get more public concern than prosecution and incarceration)
3. speech is made as a private citizen (i can´t go running around during office hours making the speech or holding myself out as a representative of the government office)
4. speech does not jeopardize intraoffice loyalty (i can´t run against my own boss and claim first amendment protection).

Mark Hardman seems to be wiling to go to the mattresses on this one.
Prosecutor candidate has no Va. Beach address [Virginian-Pilot]
Sausage and Politics [Harvey Bryant Unethical Prosecutor]
Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Prosecutor Fired For Running Against the Boss

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