What Happened at OLC During the Bush Administration?

October 22, 2009

UC Berkeley School of Law
Room 122
1.5 hours of CLE credit available.
Fee for attorneys seeking CLE credit: $35 for NLG and public interest attorneys and $65 for others.

The Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel has been called "the President's law firm". During the George W. Bush presidency, OLC staff members, including Prof. John Yoo, produced legal opinions justifying torture, warrantless wiretapping, sweeping executive powers, and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial.

This panel will explore the role and culture of the OLC, examine whether Bush OLC staff fulfilled their ethical and professional responsibilities as attorneys—and discuss what we can expect from OLC during the Obama administration.

Kathleen Clark is a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. Clark teaches in the law school's Congressional and Administrative Law Clinic in Washington, D.C., and frequently writes about ethics and national security law. She authored Ethical Issues Raised by the OLC Torture Memorandum in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.

George Harris is a partner at Morrison Foerster, a former associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel, and served on the defense team of John Walker Lindh. He has taught legal ethics as a law professor, and authored The Rule of Law and the War on Terror: The Professional Responsibilities of Executive Branch Lawyers in the Wake of 9/11 in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.

Joseph Lavitt has handled numerous appeals from criminal convictions in practice, he is a Lecturer at Berkeley Law, and the author of a forthcoming article in the Maine Law Review, titled "The Crime of Conviction of John Choon Yoo: The Actual Criminality in the OLC During the Bush Administration."