The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter delivered more than 100 complaints to the State Bar on Friday, demanding disciplinary action against former Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes — now GC at San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. — for “championing policies of torture” at Guantanamo Bay.
But no matter how persuasive the legal group’s arguments may be, Haynes won’t be disbarred. He can’t be. Haynes is not a member of California’s State Bar.
Details, schmetails, after the jump.
Haynes is actually a registered in-house counsel, a relatively newly created class of lawyers who are members of other states’ bars but are not licensed to practice by the state of California. They are subject to discipline by California’s Bar, but Bar representatives on Friday said that such proceedings are extremely rare.
That technicality isn’t stopping the SF chapter of the Lawyers Guild, which is generating petitions from “ordinary Americans” against Haynes by providing Bar complaint forms on its Web site.
“There’s some value to demonstrating the effect this had had on the public,” NLGSF executive director Carlos Villarreal said Friday. Villarreal conceded that Haynes can’t be disbarred in California but suggested that revoking his counsel registration might work as an alternative.
The NLGSF contends that Haynes authored a DoD memo that OK’d the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay without noting potential legal concerns about such activities. When that memo was rescinded, guild members allege, Haynes championed similar interrogation-authorizing work by Justice Department attorney John Yoo.
The Bar declined to act on a similar complaint filed by the NLGSF in March. Now the guild is asking the Bar to review that decision, and Villarreal said his organization is submitting more details gleaned from Senate hearings on interrogation methods to bolster its arguments against Haynes. The guild may even petition the state Supreme Court if the Bar doesn’t act, Villarreal said.
Haynes’ attorney did not return a phone message left with his office Friday afternoon.
The guild may face one more hurdle in its crusade against Haynes. The Bar’s rule of limitations says complaints must be filed within five years of the alleged lawyer wrongdoing, though it does include a number of exceptions. Most of Haynes’ work on so-called torture documents appears to have occurred in 2002 and 2003.
Villarreal said he didn’t immediately know whether the time-limitation rule would affect the guild’s complaint.
— Cheryl Miller
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