News Release

Court should tell Bush Administration that law does not support detention of Padilla

NACDL and its affiliate argue for due process for alleged ''dirty bomber'' 

Washington, DC (July 12, 2002) -- Saying that the Bush Administration is incorrect in its interpretation of legal issues ranging from venue to the power of the president as commander in chief, state and federal criminal defense bar groups today filed an amicus curiae brief calling on the government to follow the law by giving accused "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla a lawyer and a chance to face his accusers in court.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and its New York State affiliate, the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed the brief on behalf of Padilla in a civil action brought by Padilla's counsel in the federal court for the Southern District of New York.

Donald G. Rehkopf, Jr., co-chair of NACDL's Military Law Committee, says that the government's contention that President Bush's actions as commander in chief are above the law are unfounded. "Washington and Jefferson both rejected this argument during their terms. The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that absent a declaration of martial law, citizens may not be imprisoned by our military."

If the government claims that Padilla is acting on behalf of an enemy, he should still be afforded, under the Geneva Conventions, a hearing as to whether or not he is entitled to prisoner of war status, says Rehkopf.

He also argues that the government cannot circumvent jurisdiction of the court by moving Padilla to another location, and that there is no legal justification for not allowing him to have contact with legal counsel.

The case is Padilla v. Bush, et al, SDNY No. 02-Civ-4445 (MBM).

Rehkopf can be reached at (585) 754-2000 (office) or (585) 454-0568 (home).

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Joshua Dratel, co-chair of NACDL's Amicus Curiae Committee, can be reached at (212) 732-0707 (office) or (917) 754-1696 (cell).

A summary of the brief is available at

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.