News Release

Court: Guantanamo Detainees Retain Right to Legal Counsel

Washington, DC (Sept. 6, 2012) – Today Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order upholding Guantanamo detainees’ access to counsel.  The order directly addresses and rejects each argument made by the Government in its attempt to weaken the detainees’ constitutional right to seek review of the legality of their detention. 

“The Court has an obligation to assure that those seeking to challenge their Executive detention by petitioning for habeas relief have adequate, effective and meaningful access to the courts.  In the case of Guantanamo detainees, access to the courts means nothing without access to counsel.”  The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) applauds this decision as it continues the fight for attorney-client rights at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

NACDL filed an amicus letter in favor of the detainees.  NACDL has openly opposed the system of indefinite detention without charge or trial currently in place at Guantanamo Bay, and finds that continued detention under these circumstances amounts to criminal punishment.  Since the creation of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, there has been an effort on the part of the Government to deny meaningful access to counsel to the detainees being held there.  Time and again, the Courts have been called upon to step in and right this wrong.  Once again, Judge Lamberth did just that.

In February, NACDL’s Ethics Advisory Committee issued an opinion addressing the attorney-client privilege, legal mail, and client access issues at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  It is this policy that most significantly justifies NACDL’s interest in this case as NACDL has a strong interest in guaranteeing meaningful access to counsel and effective assistance of counsel to all Guantanamo detainees.

The case is In re: Guantanamo Bay Continued Access to Counsel, Misc. No. 12-0398.


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Jack King, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7628 or

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.