The Corner

Miguel Estrada on the Shoddy Partisanship of OPR — Will Holder Investigate the Leaks?

Dan had the breaking news on this last night. The usual Friday night Obamaland hijinks, however, will not obscure this episode of shoddy partisanship on the part of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which both concocted a baseless legal ethics complaint against distinguished lawyers from DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel and then, in OPR’s own stunning ethical lapse, leaked all manner of information about it over the last year.

Miguel Estrada, counsel for John Yoo, released this statement:

After a years-long investigation, the U.S. Justice Department today rejected a Final Report by the Office of Professional Responsibility purporting to find that Professor John C. Yoo, a distinguished legal scholar in one of our Nation’s finest universities, was guilty of professional misconduct during his tenure as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel.  In our written submissions to the Department, we demonstrated in great detail how the various versions of the OPR report reflected shockingly substandard legal work and a deep partisan bias.  We are pleased that the Justice Department, at long last, has agreed with the bulk of our criticisms.

Mr. Margolis, who conducted the review and rejected OPR’s conclusions, is one of the Department of Justice’s longest-serving, most distinguished and well-respected career civil servants.  His conclusion that Professor Yoo complied with the ethical rules accords with the opinions of leading legal ethics scholars such as Professors Geoffrey Hazard and Ronald Rotunda, each of whom has reviewed the memoranda at issue and concluded in expert reports that the memoranda exhibit no violation of the rules of professional responsibility or legal ethics.  As might be expected in the case of a lengthy legal document, we do not agree with every aspect of Mr. Margolis’ 69-page analysis.  But everyone knows that even the best lawyers disagree amongst themselves on matters of judgment.  What matters here is that Mr. Margolis agrees OPR was wrong. 

Professor Yoo served our Nation well and honorably in times of great peril.  OPR’s work in this matter was shoddy and biased.  The only thing that warrants an ethical investigation out of this entire sorry business is the number of malicious allegations against Professor Yoo and Judge Bybee that leaked out of the Department during the last year.  It is high time for Attorney General Holder to show that these leaks were not authorized or encouraged—for base partisan purposes—at the highest levels of his department.  Mr. Holder can do so by identifying the culprits and referring them for prosecution or bar discipline, as appropriate. 


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