Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Responding to the remarks of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles "Cully" Stimson, which were reported in the news media on January 13, 2007, the following statement was released Monday, January 15, 2007, by more than 130 deans of U.S. law schools. The statement reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned law deans, 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."