Guantanamo Detainee Defenders to Receive Top Urban Morgan Honor
The highest honor available from the UC College of Law's Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights will be given this week to three lawyers taking on one of the most prominent and difficult legal challenges in today's world th the defense of detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay on suspicion of involvement with terrorism.
(Media-Newswire.com) - The highest honor available from the UC College of Law’s Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights will be given this week to three lawyers taking on one of the most prominent and difficult legal challenges in today’s world – the defense of detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay on suspicion of involvement with terrorism.
William J. Butler Human Rights Medals will be presented at an evening program on Oct. 31 to Air Force Lt. Col. Yvonne R. Bradley, Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner and Shearman & Sterling LLP Managing Partner for International Trade and Global Relations Practice Thomas B. Wilner. All three have been on the front lines of trying to secure the legal rights and defend Guantánamo detainees.
Prior to the program, they will also be participating in a panel discussion about their experiences and the legal battles in working to establish legal norms and precedents for the Guantánamo population in a program at the UC College of Law. That event runs from 2-4:30 p.m. in Room 118 of the College, and is free, open to the public and gives 2.25 hrs. free CLE. It will be moderated by William J. Butler, the namesake for the medal and former Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists and President of the American Association of the International Commission of Jurists.
"These honorees have defended the rule of law in a hostile environment," says Bert B. Lockwood, Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Director of the Urban Morgan Institute. "They are part of the American story, representing the unpopular client – something that traces all the way back to John Adams defending British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. These are our colleagues who have stood for the best ideals in the American justice system."
They each hail from a different wing of the legal community that has stepped up to address the challenges posed by the establishment of Guantánamo Bay as a detention facility where foreigners believed to be involved in terrorist activities are being held as "enemy combatants." What that status means legally and what rights the prisoners are entitled to has been one of the most vigorous debates in recent legal memory.
Bradley comes from a group that Lockwood calls "the unsung and true heroes of this story," the military defense lawyers. He says this group has put their careers at risk in order to defend their clients.
Lt. Col. Yvonne R. Bradley is the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate for the 514th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. She is a solo practitioner in Delaware County, Pa., who, in November 2005, was appointed as military defense counsel for Guantánamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.
In addition to being President of the non-profit legal organization the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner has served as co-counsel in a pair of high-profile detainee cases. Both Rasul v. Bush ( 2004 ) and Boumediene v. Bush ( 2008 ) were argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. A prominent author and host of the radio program "Law and Disorder," he has litigated numerous cases involving international human rights violations and was named by the National Law Journal on its list of "100 of the Most Influential Lawyers in America."
Thomas B. Wilner has worked on behalf of dozens of nations and other major clients in cases before the U.S. courts, Congress and the executive branch over 35 years in practice. He has also had extensive involvement on behalf of the Guantánamo detainees.
Wilner first filed suit in May 2002 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to seek basic due process for the Guantánamo population. He was counsel of record in the Rasul v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States cases decided in 2004, which won for the detainees the right from the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the legality of their detentions in U.S. courts under the federal habeas corpus statute. After Congress repealed the detainees' right to habeas corpus under that statute, Wilner was again counsel of record in the cases of Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah vs. United States that were decided in 2008, where the Supreme Court held that the Guantánamo detainees right to habeas review of the legality of their detentions is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Thomas B. Wilner
The Butler Medal award reception and banquet are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31, at the Bell Event Centre at the Verdin Bell and Clock Museum.
For more details on any of the day’s activities, visit the Urban Morgan Institute Web site.
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