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Friday, November 30, 2012

UPDATE: FORMER NAVY JAG FACES SUSPENSION FOR GITMO RELEASE

An update on a post from last week.
 
Matthew Diaz, a former Navy JAG lawyer who mailed a classified list of GITMO detainees to the Center for Constitutional Rights, is now also a former Kansas attorney. 
 
The Kansas Supreme Court disbarred Mr. Diaz this week.  Diaz's attorney has asked for leniency since his client had already been court-martialed by the Navy and convicted of four felonies, which resulted in his dismissal from the Navy and serving six-months in prison. 
 
While arguing that his "motive was virtuous" in that he was protecting "the Guantanamo Bay detainees' habeas corpus rights declared in the United States Supreme Court opinion of Rasul v. Bush," the court focused on how Diaz failed to voice his concerns to his superior officers and that the information he leaked potentially could have lead to detainee interrogators being identified, putting their lives at risk.  Also, Diaz by his own admission, admitted not wanting to go to his superiors because "he didn't want to ruin his career."
 
The court stated that disbarment was warranted due to the nature of Diaz's criminal violations and his “admitted selfish reasons for the clandestine disclosure of classified information.”
 
JUSTICE SERVED!
 
The opinion can be read here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FORMER NAVY JAG FACES SUSPENSION FOR GITMO RELEASE

Matthew Diaz, a former Navy Judge Advocate, is looking at a possible three year suspension from practicing law.  However, the suspension would be retroactive to 2008, allowing Diaz to apply immediately for reinstatement.  The Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments on the recommended suspension (which Diaz's attorney supports) a few weeks ago. 
 
Diaz, while on duty as a Navy Judge Advocate, mailed a classified list of the names of the person being detained at Guantanamo to the Center for Constitutional Rights.  Diaz claimed he was torn between following his orders and his desire to ensure that detainees received legal representation.  Diaz apparently tried disguising the list by enclosing it in a Valentine's Day card. 
 
Diaz was court-martialed, put in the brig, and discharged from the Navy after the discovery of his actions. 
 
From a purely personal side, as a Judge Advocate myself, I find Mr. Diaz's actions reprehensible.  The detainees at GITMO, are not American citizens, and therefore do not enjoy the same rights as American citizens.  They are however treated better than some prisoners here in the US.  They are given access to attorneys, and all their religious needs are attended to.  Mr. Diaz was not being issued an illegal order and he had the moral responsibility to follow orders and do his duty to the best of his ability as a Navy Judge Advocate. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

WESTLAW USE LEADS TO REPRIMAND

Everett Walton, an attorney licensed in Oregon and Hawaii, but practicing in Hawaii, was publicly reprimanded by both the Oregon and Hawaiian Supreme Courts for his use of Westlaw after he left his job as a prosecutor. 
 
While a prosecutor for the Republic of Palau, Walton was given a three-year, flat rate contract to use Westlaw.  After he left this position, he tried without success to cancel the Westlaw contract, and then used it for 14 months after while working for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.
 
Oregon's opinion noted how Walton had "an unblemished record in 35 years" of practicing law and this infraction did not seriously reflect on his fitness to practice law.  Since his misconduct did not personally benefit him (the Court stated that the true beneficiaries of his misconduct were the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and its clients) and did not harm anyone, a public reprimand was sufficient.  The Oregon Disciplinary authorities had asked originally for a six month suspension of Walton's license.