Washington, DC (Aug. 17, 2012) – In the latest attack on attorney-client relationships at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. Department of Justice now takes the position that Guantanamo detainees whose habeas corpus cases have been terminated no longer have the right of access to their lawyers and vice versa. Under a new “memorandum of understanding,” attorney-client visits and communications are permitted at the sole discretion of the Commander, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo.
The DOJ argues that a 2008 federal court protective order no longer governs attorney access for detainees whose habeas cases have been terminated. The military would decide whether a lawyer and his client could meet and would control access to all past and future communications (including the attorney’s own work product on previous cases). Under the conditions of the MOU, any disputes would be subject to “the final and unreviewable discretion” of the task force commander in coordination with the Defense Department’s Southern Command.
Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held a motions hearing on Friday morning and took the matter under advisement. A courtroom observer described the judge as skeptical of the government’s position.
On Monday, Aug. 13, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a friend-of-the-court letter with Judge Lamberth in support of the detainees’ right to access to their lawyers. The letter encourages the court to rule that the 2008 protective order continues to apply to the detainees, and that the government cannot terminate the detainees’ access to their lawyers on their lawyers’ refusal to sign the MOU. In 2003 and 2012, NACDL issued Ethics Advisory Opinions 03-04 and 12-02, respectively, reminding counsel that they many not “contract away” their clients rights, especially the right to effective assistance of counsel and the attorney-client privilege, to the government. Ethics Opinion 12-02, issued in February of this year, reminds military and civilian counsel with Guantanamo clients that attorneys have an ethical and constitutional duty to challenge the substance of JTF administrative orders that interfere with meaningful communications, thereby preventing competent representation.
NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin said, “The American judicial system is the best in the world because our adversarial trial proceedings are designed to determine the truth. Interference with the attorney-client relationship undermines the truth-seeking function of that process, rendering proceedings more about achieving a predetermined result than about determining truth and doing justice.”
“Without proper access to counsel, a person's right to petition and be heard by the courts can be rendered meaningless.” Benjamin said. “As these proceedings continue, the need for uncompromised representation becomes greater, not less.”
A copy of NACDL’s letter brief is available for downloading at http://www.nacdl.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=24913&libID=24882.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
Jack King, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7628 or email@example.com.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.