The Controversial Call to Boycott US Law Firms Who Represent Detainees

Cully Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs is under fire for comments he made in a recent interview with Federal News Radio,  Mr. Stimson criticized major U.S. law firms that represented or are representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

“Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there?,” he asked, and said “I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs 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.”

There is nothing wrong with lawyers deciding how to spend their time.  Nor is there is anything wrong with choosing work that attracts negative attention or publicity.  The market will decide whether to reward or punish those who represent detainees.  It is not the place of a governmental official openly to criticize these decisions.  The remedies for those who disagree with these choices are: (1) vote the rascals out of office (government officials who take such reprehensible views) and (2) don’t hire (or fire) the lawyers who decide to take these cases if you dont agree with that philosophy. 

A long list of law school deans responded to the attack on January 14, 2007.  See Dean Responses.  The Defense Department has denounced the comments, but the cat is already out of the bag and to what extent do these statements reflect the view of the administration?  The ABA has spoken out against these remarks too, as well as every bar and civic organization association under the sun.   I guess no one agrees with you, Mr. Stimson.  For more information on this controversial subject, see the WSJ Blog.


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