Legal Ethics

Arrests are a possibility for 2 defense lawyers who quit USS Cole case over classified issue

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Guantanamo Bay

Aerial view of the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A Guantanamo judge has ordered prosecutors to draft writs of attachment for two civilian defense lawyers who quit the USS Cole terrorism case over a classified issue involving compromised attorney-client privilege.

Air Force Col. Vance Spath issued his order on Wednesday after the lawyers, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears, did not comply with Spath’s subpoena to appear at the military commissions headquarters in Virginia for a video link hearing to explain their reason for quitting, the Miami Herald reports. The writs are essentially arrest warrants, the newspaper explains.

Eliades and Spears had represented Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of orchestrating the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole. They quit in October and were released from the case by the chief defense counsel for the military commissions at Guantanamo, Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker.

Spath had ordered Baker to reinstate Eliades, Spears and a third defense lawyer who quit the case, and Baker refused. Spath found Baker in contempt and sentenced him in November to 21 days’ confinement in his quarters.

Eliades and Spears are employees in Baker’s military commissions defense office, while the third lawyer who quit, Rick Kammen, was a contract defense lawyer who had been recruited by the American Civil Liberties Union. He is protected from appearing at the Guantanamo court by a federal court order.

The only lawyer remaining on the case, Navy Lt. Alaric Piette, has refused to proceed without a lawyer who has death-penalty expertise. He has sat in hearings as prosecutors presented evidence.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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