Jewish World Review August 1, 2003 / 3 Menachem-Av, 5763

Dan Abrams

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Why is the outgoing president of one of the most influential legal organizations advising attorneys not to represent certain clients?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Lawrence Goldman, president of the prestigious National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, is advising the members not to defend any of the Guantanomo detainees who may be tried at military tribunals.

But it's not because he has some moral reservations about representing people who likely set their sights on destroying this nation. It's because he doesn't like the rules.

Goldman wrote, "The rules regulating counsel's behavior are just too restrictive to give us any confidence that counsel will be able to act zealously or professionally."

What a copout. Why can't the lawyer still be zealous and professional, even if the lawyers are not what they're accustomed to? He's upset that among other things, in these cases a guilty verdict can be rendered with just a two-thirds vote. That the lawyers have to get security clearance, sign certain documents, and the government can monitor attorney-client conversations.

But, yes, those are restrictive rules, no question. All of the protections afforded to defendants in our system don't apply in these tribunals. But that's not a reason to advise defense lawyers not to get involved at all. So next, if they don't like a judge's ruling, they'll advise a lawyer to pull out? And what happens if a new law is passed they don't like?

What a bad precedent to set. If they want to complain about the rules, complain or challenge the rules any way they can. But what will this accomplish apart from ensuring that the defendants don't get the highest quality civilian representation permitted under the rules.

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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors “The Abrams Report,” Monday through Friday from 9-10 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Today” and “Dateline NBC.” To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.

Up

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