Berkeley Law Students Applaud DOJ Report Findings, Torture Memo Lawyers Engaged in Misconduct: Urge Congress, State Bar and University to Investigate
[Update]: The Yoo situation seems all but settled as Congress is looking in to whether or not to hold hearings. The analysis below strikes me as a step in the right direction.
______________________________From the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture:
The final report of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) released Friday found that former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer John Yoo engaged in “intentional professional misconduct” and that Yoo's colleague, former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer John Bybee, engaged in “reckless disregard of his professional obligations” in their rendering of legal justifications for the Bush Administration’s torture policy. OPR Report, p. 252, 256. The OPR report concludes that “Yoo put his desire to accommodate the client above his obligation to provide thorough, objective, and candid legal advice, and that he therefore committed intentional professional misconduct.” OPR Report, p. 254.Excerpts from the OPR Report:
Although Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis decided to downgrade the OPR findings to “poor judgment” and to refrain from referring the OPR findings to the relevant state bars, House Judiciary Committee chair, John Conyers, has disputed Margolis's decision and has scheduled Congressional hearings on the matter. Though the DOJ’s recommendation does not include sanctions, the contents of the OPR report also provide a sound basis for action by other entities with jurisdiction over the lawyers’ conduct, including the University of California and the Pennsylvania and DC Bar Associations.
“The Pennsylvania and DC bar associations and the University of California have refused to investigate the conduct of Professor Yoo until the release of the OPR report,” stated first-year Berkeley Law student [RH]. “Now they no longer have an excuse – they must fulfill their duty to investigate the professional misconduct and ethics violations spelled out in the OPR report.”
Student members of the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture (BAAT) at Berkeley Law School, where John Yoo is a tenured professor, applauded the findings in the report and expressed dismay over the new facts revealed, including that Yoo “knowingly provided incomplete and one-sided advice.” OPR Report, p. 252. As a tenured professor of law, the OPR report concludes “by a preponderance of the evidence” that Yoo “knowingly failed to present a sufficiently thorough, objective, and candid analysis” through “his failure to carefully read the cases, and his exclusive reliance on the work of a junior attorney.” OPR Report, p. 253.
“It was apparent that Yoo engaged in professional misconduct, but I’m still shocked by the report – that as a lawyer advising the President on a matter so important as torture, Yoo failed to carefully read the cases he was citing and relied on a junior attorney for critical legal analysis,” said first-year Berkeley Law student [TF]. “If I did the same thing on a law school assignment, I’d fail. Yet, Yoo is a tenured professor here at Berkeley.”
BAAT was formed by law students and student organizations to restore respect for the international prohibition against torture. The organization has been active in educating law students and recently sent petitions to the Justice Department, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the University of California Faculty Senate urging investigations of the OLC lawyers. “Thorough investigations are essential if we want to ensure that human rights violations and civil rights abuses have stopped and that they never happen again,” says BAAT member and first-year Berkeley Law student [NGN].
Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture: http://sites.google.com/site/abolishtorture/
“Yoo committed intentional professional misconduct” and “knowingly provided incomplete and one-sided advice.” p. 252.You can also check out Slate's take on the issue.
“Yoo put his desire to accommodate the client above his obligation to provide thorough, objective, and candid legal advice, and that he therefore committed intentional professional misconduct.” p. 254.
“Given Yoo’s background as a former Supreme Court law clerk and tenured professor of law, we concluded that his awareness of the complex and confusing nature of the law, his failure to carefully read the cases and his exclusive reliance on the work of a junior attorney, established by a preponderance of the evidence that he knowingly failed to present a sufficiently thorough, objective, and candid analysis of the specific intent element of the torture statute.” p. 253.
“Yoo knowingly provided incomplete advice to the client.” p. 253.
“[Yoo] knowingly misstated the strength of the Bybee Memo’s argument ‘that interrogation of [prisoners] using methods that might violate [the torture statute] would be justified under the doctrine of self-defense....’” p. 253.
“Yoo’s legal analyses justified acts of outright torture.” p. 252.