Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mediator among law school deans signing letter condemning Pentagon call for lawyer boycott

Law deans condemn call for boycott of lawyersThe Boston Globe reports today that the deans of the major law schools in Massachusetts joined some 100 law school deans as signatories to a letter protesting the controversial call by a Pentagon official to boycott law firms representing Guantanamo detainees.

Among the law deans joining the protest is Robert H. Smith, dean of Suffolk University Law School, my alma mater, and a respected mediator.

The text of the letter is as follows:
We, the law deans undersigned below, are appalled by the January 11, 2007 statement of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles "Cully" Stimson, criticizing law firms for their pro bono representation of suspected terrorist detainees and encouraging corporate executives to force these law firms to choose between their pro bono and paying clients.

As law deans and professors, we find Secretary Stimson’s statement to be contrary to basic tenets of American law. We teach our students that lawyers have a professional obligation to ensure that even the most despised and unpopular individuals and groups receive zealous and effective legal representation. Our American legal tradition has honored lawyers who, despite their personal beliefs, have zealously represented mass murderers, suspected terrorists, and Nazi marchers. At this moment in time, when our courts have endorsed the right of the Guantanamo detainees to be heard in courts of law, it is critical that qualified lawyers provide effective representation to these individuals. By doing so, these lawyers protect not only the rights of the detainees, but also our shared constitutional principles. In a free and democratic society, government officials should not encourage intimidation of or retaliation against lawyers who are fulfilling their pro bono obligations.

We urge the Administration promptly and unequivocally to repudiate Secretary Stimson's remarks.
Let freedom ring.