Yale University

Class News

Gerry Shea '64 on Terrorist Attacks and Torture

In September 2004, Gerry Shea wrote a very comprehensive "Memorandum to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States." Gerry commented, at that time: "I have not reached any definitive conclusions, though the memorandum does call for a public inquiry."

In December 2005, Gerry also wrote a memorandum titled "The Question of Torture: The Judge Must Resign," on the legal and ethical implications of the torture opinion of Judge Jay S. Bybee. Gerry forwarded this memorandum to the presidents of the bar associations of several major cities (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York) under the following cover letter:

"Dear [President of the Association]:

I am attaching my memorandum on the The Legal and Ethical Implications of the Torture Opinion of Jay S. Bybee . Bybee's opinion is the illicit genesis of the policy and practice of torture by our Government for the first time in our history. That the lawyer who delivered the opinion was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals six months later, and still sits on that Court, is a national disgrace. The memorandum calls for his resignation.

I am a member of the New York Bar, and I write to you, as President of the [.....] Bar Association, to ask that the Association, or you, as its President, or one or more of its Committees, publicly subscribe to the conclusion that Jay S. Bybee has violated the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (it seems indisputable that he has) and thus should resign from the Bench, or be subject to public censure, or both.

The Association, and lawyers in general, can no longer remain silent on a question that is so vital to the integrity of our profession and to the rule of law in our society. The practice of torture began with us, the lawyers, and we must answer for it.

Gerald Shea

Gerry comments: "I hope I'll be surprised, but I fear the Associations will be unwilling to say or do anything at all which, if this proves to be the case, will add to the dimension of our national scandal."