Bush administration lawyer appeals decision not to dismiss torture lawsuit

[JURIST] Former US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel [official website] lawyer John Yoo [academic profile; JURIST news archive] Monday declared his intent to appeal a lower court ruling [JURIST report] allowing a lawsuit against him alleging complicity in torture to proceed. Yoo is appealing a June decision by District Judge Jeffrey White not to dismiss [San Francisco Chronicle report] a lawsuit brought by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive] that claims Yoo's legal opinions endorsing enhanced interrogation techniques [JURIST news archive] led to Padilla being tortured. Padilla, a US citizen currently serving a 17-year sentence [JURIST report] on terrorism-related charges, says that he was tortured while held as an "enemy combatant" [JURIST news archive] in military custody in a Navy military brig in Charleston, South Carolina. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] said that it would pay for private counsel [Bloomberg report] to handle Yoo's appeal, because the government's defense had been based solely on qualified immunity and Yoo deserves counsel who will make all available arguments. A DOJ spokesperson said that paying for outside counsel is standard practice in cases where there is a potential legal disagreement between the DOJ and a defendant sued in an official capacity.

Yoo, a professor at the Berkeley School of Law [academic website] has faced sharp criticism for his role in drafting interrogation memos [JURIST report]. Last week, it was reported that US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] is still considering appointing a special prosecutor [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of torture during the Bush administration. In May, a number of organizations called for the drafters of the memos to be disbarred [JURIST report]. Also in May, former JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen told [JURIST report] an audience at the University of Nebraska College of Law [academic website] that the DOJ lawyers who had authorized the use of enhanced interrogation techniques had "disgraced not only their country but their profession." In April, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website], Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] renewed his call [JURIST report] for the formation of a non-partisan "truth commission" to investigate torture allegations. Also in April, UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official profile, DOC] insisted that under international law the US must prosecute [JURIST report] DOJ lawyers who drafted the memos. US President Barack Obama has said that he would not rule out the possibility of prosecuting [transcript; JURIST report] lawyers who authored the memos.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.