Castigating Cully

Last week I decried a senior Pentagon official’s attack on lawyers providing pro bono representation to Guantánamo detainees. I suggested that villifying the partners of some of the largest firms in the country was probably not the wisest political move, and was likely to backfire.

As it turns out, it appears I was right. See the editorial in this week’s Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:

…Headlines in print and online were unanimous: “Why Cully Stimson Is Wrong.” “The rightwing assault on the legal system.” “Cully Stimson Should Pick Up His Medal of Freedom and Go Home.” “Law deans respond to unethical Bush lawyer.”

And perhaps the most eloquent rebuke of all came from Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried. In an op-ed that ran in the Wall Street Journal, Fried declared that “Stimson showed ignorance and malice in deploring the pro bono representation of Guantanamo detainees by lawyers in some of the nation’s leading law firms.”

The former Supreme Judicial Court justice continued: “It is no surprise that firms … on Mr. Stimson’s hit list are among the most sought-after by law school graduates, and retain the loyalty and enthusiasm of their partners. They offer their lawyers the profession at its best, and help assure that the rule of law is not just a slogan but a satisfying way of life.”

…What could have been a disaster for the bar turned into an all-out celebration of what lawyers do.