The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece earlier this week suggesting that the Guantanamo habeas attorneys are in it for the glory and how nice it would be if big firm lawyers would volunteer to help out the poor department of justice lawyers. Well the Wall Street Journal did not see fit to print my letter in response so here it is (FYI, DOJ is the department of Justice... in name only of course) :
As one of the “dream teams” (my team is particularly small however because I am a sole practitioner) referenced in your opinion piece on December 16th “Gitmo Lawyers are the latest in Radical Chic” I want to commend you for the excellent idea that the DOJ gets some assistance from competent lawyers from the outside. If the DOJ had competent lawyers on it’s side that would treat the courts as an independent branch of government rather than an irritant to be ignored… or worse yet to be lied to, perhaps we could get these cases resolved. Competent lawyers could start by giving refresher courses to the DOJ attorneys on both the court rules and the ethical rules for attorney conduct…. Including the most important rules “obey court orders” and “tell the truth.” A little friendly advice about the harm that comes to the judicial process when they deliberately insulate its lawyers from unfavorable facts would go a long way too.
I have been in private practice for more than twenty-five years and I can tell you that if I conducted litigation in the same manner that these attorneys from the DOJ have I would have been sanctioned by the Judges long ago. You are absolutely right that competent representation promotes justice and any involvement to raise the quality of the government's representation in these cases would be a welcome improvement.