The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found that Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee, then working as a DOJ lawyer, exercised "poor judgment" when he prepared legal memos regarding the use of torture on detainees in United States custody. Although the document failed to recommend disbarment, it has fueled an independent and long-running campaign to have Bybee disbarred.
At the forefront of the push is the organization called DisbarTortureLawyers.com, which last year filed a disciplinary complaint against Judge Bybee seeking his disbarment in Washington, DC. After the DOJ announcement, it has vowed to supplement that complaint with the new report.
"Until [he] resigns or is removed from the bench, we call on all lawyers of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to file motions to disqualify Judge Bybee, should he be assigned to their cases, on the basis of these official findings of poor judgment," said attorney and campaign spokesperson Kevin Zeese.
DisbarTortureLawyers has also promised to work with jurisdictions outside the U.S. to indict other top Bush administration lawyers, including John Yoo, David Addington, William Haynes, Alberto Gonzales and Stephen Bradbury, as well as former Vice President Dick Cheney, for violating the UN Convention Against Torture.
But the idea is strongly opposed by many Republicans, such as Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, who said that "it is important that future government lawyers know that their efforts to protect Americans will not be criminalized by future administrations," quoted by CNN.