Group Wants Courts to Play ‘Keep Away’ from Torture Lawyers

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Raw Story

Group Wants Courts to Play ‘Keep Away’ from Torture Lawyers

by
Sahil Kapur

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee (pictured) and fellow author of Bush administration torture memos John Yoo were last week found guilty of "professional midconduct" and "poor judgment" for ignoring established case law. They were nevertheless cleared of any criminal charges. (File)

Critics are working to disbar Bush administration "torture
architects" from practicing law in courts again, and if that doesn't
work they're enlisting attorneys to move to disqualify them as judges.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee and fellow author of Bush administration torture memos John Yoo were last week found guilty
of "professional midconduct" and "poor judgment" for ignoring
established case law. They were nevertheless cleared of any criminal
charges.

The Disbar Torture Lawyers campaign, which is part of a
consortium that boasts over 120 transparency and watchdog groups, is
now working to disbar Bybee and others complicit in advocating illegal
interrogation methods.

"Judge Bybee can no longer pretend to be
fair, impartial, or to exercise good judgment," said attorney and
campaign spokesperson Kevin Zeese in a statement. "He has been found to
possess all the qualities that people do not want in a judge - bias,
poor judgment, predetermination, failure to follow established law, and
professional misconduct."

DisbarTortureLawyers.com,
a project of Velvet Revolution, states as its guiding principle,
"Torture is illegal under both United States and international law" and
prohibited as "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment.

The
group has filed complaints to sanction Bybee and remove him from his
judge post, backed with specific language from the Department of
Justice's Office of Personal Responsibility that details his
wrongdoings.

"No plaintiff or defendant should be subjected to
the authority of a judge who has been so thoroughly discredited," said
Zesse, who is also urging lawyers and their clients to move to
disqualify Bybee.

"We call on every plaintiff and defendant whose
case is assigned to Judge Bybee to demand that their lawyer file a
motion to disqualify him, and if the lawyer refuses, to take action
against the lawyer for failing to protect their interests and the
integrity of the judicial process."

Also targeted in the campaign
are Bybee's fellow torture memo author John Yoo and former Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales. The group intends to work with and support
Congress in taking further steps to sanction these individuals and
disbar those who are still working as judges.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has announced
plans to hold House Judiciary Committee hearings on the Bush
administration lawyers whose legal memos justified the use of torture
on terrorism detainees.

Last year, John Podesta, a leader of President Obama's transition team and former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, said Bybee should be impeached.

There
"is a distinction between going back and prosecuting in the criminal
courts the actors who were involved in these memos and letting Judge
Bybee continue to sit on a court one step removed from the Supreme
Court," Podesta said. "He's acting and listening to cases and making
judgments of others, and we know that he authorized things that were
illegal under U.S. law and violated the U.S. obligations under
international treaties."

Podesta heads the Center for American Progress Action, a liberal think tank.

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