Saturday, January 13, 2007

Charles Stimson is Un-American and a Disgrace to the Legal Profession

Excuse the emotion running through the heading of this post. Today I learned that Charles Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs and a lawyer educated at a pretty good law school, George Mason University, apparently believes the pro bono attorneys representing detainees at Gitmo and elsewhere, should be punished for their loyalty to the highest principle of their profession, the defense of the accused.

Mr. Stimson apparently slept through his Ethics, Criminal Procedure, and Constitutional Law classes and probably thought the defendant deserved what he got in "To Kill a Mockingbird".

The story's here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/13/washington/13gitmo.html?em&ex=1168837200&en=7891524ddd2fcf3b&ei=5087%0A

Mr. Stimson made his remarks in an interview on Thursday with Federal News Radio, a local Washington-based station that is aimed at an audience of government employees.

The same point appeared Friday on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, where Robert L. Pollock, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, cited the list of law firms and quoted an unnamed “senior U.S. official” as saying, “Corporate C.E.O.’s seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists.”

In his radio interview, Mr. Stimson said: “I think the news story that you’re really going to start seeing in the next couple of weeks is this: As a result of a FOIA request through a major news organization, somebody asked, ‘Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there?’ and you know what, it’s shocking.” The F.O.I.A. reference was to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for the names of all the lawyers and law firms representing Guantánamo detainees in federal court cases.

Mr. Stimson, who is himself a lawyer, then went on to name more than a dozen of the firms ... describing them as “the major law firms in this country.” He said, “I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.”

Karen J. Mathis, a Denver lawyer who is president of the American Bar Association, said: “Lawyers represent people in criminal cases to fulfill a core American value: the treatment of all people equally before the law. To impugn those who are doing this critical work — and doing it on a volunteer basis — is deeply offensive to members of the legal profession, and we hope to all Americans.”


Gosh, I wonder who the "unnamed Senior U.S. official" was? Reading and re-reading his words, it seems clear to me that he is trying to intimidate and drive away the only attorneys who can handle the demands of representing people being held on an island away from scrutiny and most court jurisdiction and who have the assets and resources to handle the enormous mound of paper obfuscation and litigation launched at them by cretinous, authoritarian public officials whose bottom line isn't the protection of our country and everything it stands for, but avoidance of a spotlight on their appalling treatment of detainees and the questionable circumstances under which so many of them are being held.

Mr. Stimson's attitude presents a first-rate argument for the necessity of open and aggressive representation of detainees. Due to this administration's disrespect for our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and requirement for fairness which first and foremost must exist for justice to be done, the deck is heavily stacked against the detainees whose attorneys must scale towering wall of government secrecy, avoidance, and deception just to get a hearing on the evidence. Time to end the secrecy and to fire people like Mr. Stimson, who holds the enormous power of the state and all its resources yet does not recognize that he is part of a system in which good legal representation of the accused is necessary to assure that the weight of his power does not crush the innocent.

4 comments:

April said...

I quote in pertinent part from Mr. Stimson's interview:

I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.

My response:
I don't read the ABA rules on Professional Responsiblity every day so I don't have them memorized, but I seem to rememember some ethical obligations on the part of attorneys to not bring disrepute upon the legal profession. Mr. Stimson has in my opinion breached this ethical rule and perhaps others. I'd be interested to know what the ABA thinks about his obscene comments.

Catzmaw said...

I believe also that Mr. Stimson's comments are at least borderline unethical. At the very least they do not pass what an old lawyer friend of mine likes to call the smell test. To impugn the integrity of attorneys who are only trying to do the job expected of defense attorneys is, IMHO, bringing disrepute on the legal profession.

Anonymous said...

if you are outraged by Stimson's comments and want the restoration of habeas corpus go to:

projecthamad.org

get involved, and join the project!!

pharmacy said...

Act request submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for the names of all the lawyers and law firms representing Guantánamo detainees in federal court cases.