NLGSF Pursuing Ethics Complaint Against Torture Lawyer to Cal Supreme Court

State Bar Refused to Investigate Former Pentagon Lawyer Haynes

San Francisco - The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) filed a petition with the California Supreme Court this week asking it to review the decision by the State Bar not to investigate William J. Haynes II. Haynes, now an attorney with the Chevron Corporation in San Ramon, used his position as a lawyer in the Department of Defense to advocate for torture and illegal treatment of detainees in military custody during the Bush presidency. Despite voluminous evidence that Haynes has violated California's rules of professional conduct that all attorneys must follow, the State Bar has maintained that the NLGSF complaint is closed without prejudice to reopening.

"The Bar seems to be punting this one," said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the NLGSF. "They forwarded our complaint to bar associations in other states and indicated that investigations elsewhere might yield evidence they can act upon; but Haynes is practicing law in California and the State Bar needs to protect the people of California from lawyers like him."

The petition alleges that Haynes, while at the Defense Department, advised violation of the law, breached the duty of candor and good faith required of attorneys, and lacks the moral character needed for the privilege of practicing law in California. The facts, revealed primarily in a report from the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), demonstrate that Haynes' office sought out techniques normally used to train military personnel how to resist those techniques if captured by rogue nations. He then recommended adoption of a number of these techniques by the military in a brief memo to then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He did this without citing relevant law and over the objections of a number of other military lawyers. Haynes' memo was called "grossly deficient" by the SASC.

"Haynes was one of the key officials who pushed radical legal fictions that led to the abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Baghram, Abu Graib and elsewhere," said NLGSF Board Member Sharon Adams. "He is now in another powerful legal position with Chevron, a corporation that is also linked to torture in Nigeria and elsewhere. It is disgraceful that the State Bar refuses to even open an investigation."

Haynes is also responsible for forcing a working group of officials to accept legal opinions written by the notorious former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, despite the fact that the group was already working on a fair and unbiased analysis. The Yoo memo, like Haynes' earlier memo to Rumsfeld, was later withdrawn because of its legal inadequacy.

"The legal work of both Haynes and Yoo were repudiated while Bush was still in power," said Adams. "There is nothing partisan about an effort to hold these lawyers accountable and protect the public from unethical lawyers like Haynes."

The NLGSF petition can be downloaded in pdf format by clicking here.

The NLGSF Committee Against Torture is working to hold accountable torture lawyers in California, including John Yoo (professor at Boalt Hall School of Law); Jay Bybee (federal judge in the 9th Circuit); and William Haynes (registered in house counsel at Chevron Corp. in San Ramon). For more information, please see our Committee Against Torture page.