Letters to the Editor

Law and Terror

Posted Nov 1, 2007 1:30 PM CDT

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Congratulations on September’s special issue, Law in the Age of Terror, which should be read by every lawyer in America.

This issue represents the kind of leadership and information on the topics of law, justice and security that only the ABA can supply. Well done!

Gordon L. Jaynes
Virginia Water, Surrey, England


What a pleasant surprise. When I opened the September edition of the Journal, I expected the war on terror symposium to be another let’s-bash-George-Bush exercise. Aside from a couple of fatuous lapses—“But Is It War?” (Yes) and “If I Represented Bin Laden” (Who cares?)—I found the presentation to be well-balanced and objective.

I am grateful to Alan Dershowitz for articulating the predicate of this country’s efforts to eradicate the mortal threat posed by the disciples of perverted Islam. He writes that if Osama bin Laden “had the opportunity to kill me, my children and my grandchildren, he would.” Let’s not lose sight of this observation when the hand-wringing over home-front inconveniences and the quality of civil rights afforded our committed enemies ratchets up. Frankly, I would rather be alive than worry about what the feds are going to find on my telephone bill.

Putting the currrent discussion in perspective, compared to the security measures taken by Lincoln and Roosevelt during times of national peril, what is happening now is small potatoes.

J. Paul Giuliani
Montpelier, Vt.


I was shocked as I read Jason Krause’s article “The Architects.” Mostly, I was floored that he took a position of confidence in the five men he deems architects of Amer­­ica’s stance on terrorism, and failed to mention any people other than those whose politics are engulfed in the current administration.

He failed to mention that John Yoo’s famous memo was attempting to enact wide latitude for the president’s prosecution of terror, that Yoo was a member of the Federalist Society, that he viewed international law with great skepticism, and that his memo was considered highly controversial by most members of Congress.

Krause used the term architects quite loosely. The current administration, and now the architects’ legal house of cards, is fast crumbling, as they have neglected to consider or recognize the restraints imposed by the Constitution.

Desiree Belsito
Brooklyn, N.Y.


I have reviewed most of the articles in the recent special issue of the ABA Journal. The left-wing slant of the ABA is dramatically illustrated by the pictures that accompanied the various stories.

For instance, the photograph of the attorneys who defended admitted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui paints an almost heroic portrait of them. Gerald Zerkin’s photograph is a full-color, glossy finish of a smiling, happy man.

The only Bush administration attorney to receive color photograph treatment and kind words, Rob Spencer, was given credit for exuding “rectitude and decency” during the Moussaoui trial. The same cannot be said of the Journal’s treatment of Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, John Ashcroft, David Addington and Viet Dinh.

Unfortunately, the ABA is far too political. As an organization, the ABA should advance a legal agenda, not a partisan, left-wing political agenda. If the editors of the ABA Journal didn’t intend to send the obvious message of the September issue, perhaps some “political sensitivity” training is in order.

Brian T. Goettl
Nicholasville, Ky.

NOT IN TUNE WITH NATIONAL PULSE

As national experts on the issue of limited scope representation, we must take issue with your article “Scary Parts of Ghostwriting,” in the National Pulse section of your August issue. The authority you cite (a single federal case from New Jersey), and the conclusion drawn therefrom (failure to disclose document assistance is improper and dangerous), represents a distinct minority opinion.

This issue is critical to the nationwide movement to promote access to justice, particularly in state courts, which are often inundated by self-represented litigants who, but for document assistance from qualified lawyers, would be deprived of any meaningful access. The need is particularly compelling in states without standardized forms, where it may be impossible to protect legal rights without document assistance from an expert.

The many states that have addressed these issues have come down in three separate camps. California determined that the service was so important that the potential chilling effect of disclosure must be mitigated, and specifically provides that no disclosure of ghostwriting is required. Other states, such as Florida, require only that the ghostwritten document include the disclaimer that it was “prepared with the assistance of counsel,” without identifying the drafter. Others, such as Colo­­rado, require disclosure of the drafting attorney’s contact information.

The importance of document assistance is recognized across the board. As a result, many states where signing a pleading otherwise constitutes a general appearance have adopted specific rules to encourage ghostwriting by confirming that mere disclosure of document assistance is not a general appearance.

These developments have been taking place all around the country for a number of years and are not new.

We are disappointed that your publication took a minority position on such an important issue impacting the basic rights of millions of litigants and characterized it as reflective of the “national pulse.” It is not.

M. Sue Talia
Danville, Calif.
Toby Rothschild, general counsel
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

CORRECTION

In “Setting Precedent in Two Wars,” September, John M. Ferren was identified as a D.C. circuit judge. He is a senior judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The Journal regrets the error.

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