Over 100 State Bar Complaints Filed Against Torture Lawyer William Haynes

Hundreds More Expected Demanding Accountability From Cal Bar

San Francisco - The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) delivered over 100 complaints against former Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes to the California State Bar offices Thursday in San Francisco. The complaints came from ordinary Americans demanding that the state bar "conduct a thorough investigation of Mr. Haynes' actions and omissions while General Counsel at the Department of Defense. The complaints further demand a written formal decision on the outcome of the investigation.

The complaints were a response to a campaign launched by the NLGSF empowering people to petition the state bar for disciplinary action against Haynes who, while with the Department of Defense during the Bush administration, legally advocated for and even championed policies of torture at Guantanamo Bay and beyond. Complaints came mostly from California residents but also from as far away as Maine and Washington D.C. They continue to arrive by mail to NLGSF offices in San Francisco, all to eventually be forwarded to the state bar.

"This campaign is appropriate because William Haynes was one of the lawyers shaping policy that harmed so many prisoners and put all of us in greater danger," said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the NLGSF. "Anyone can file a complaint against a California lawyer, and while the process should never be abused, the process ought to be available to anyone and everyone when a lawyer commits wrongdoing from a position of power in our government resulting in such a devastating and widespread effect."

The State Bar closed without prejudice a more detailed complaint filed by the NLGSF in March of this year. The NLGSF will request a formal review of that decision next week.

"The state bar investigates and disciplines far less powerful attorneys who have committed far less egregious acts," said Sharon Adams, NLGSF Executive Board Member. "It was surprising that they would close our complaint without even initiating an investigation. It seems to contradict one of the most important functions of the state bar - to protect the public."

Haynes is currently registered in house counsel with the Chevron Corporation in San Ramon. "Haynes is still in a position to do great harm, undoubtedly shaping the actions of a major corporation that has committed human rights abuses around the world and had a major impact on our environment," said Adams. "There is no doubt that the public needs to be proactive when a lawyer like Haynes is still granted the privilege of practicing law and crafting policies that will continue to have an enormous impact on people."

The campaign is overseen by the NLGSF Committee Against Torture. Links to a complaint the public can use and the complaint already filed by the NLGSF can be found here.