I recently read a disturbing opinion piece in the New York Times – My Guantánamo Nightmare. The author, Lakhdar Boumediene, wrote the following:
On Wednesday, America’s detention camp at Guantánamo Bay will have been open for 10 years. For seven of them, I was held there without explanation or charge. During that time my daughters grew up without me. They were toddlers when I was imprisoned, and were never allowed to visit or speak to me by phone. Most of their letters were returned as “undeliverable,” and the few that I received were so thoroughly and thoughtlessly censored that their messages of love and support were lost.
Some American politicians say that people at Guantánamo are terrorists, but I have never been a terrorist. Had I been brought before a court when I was seized, my children’s lives would not have been torn apart, and my family would not have been thrown into poverty. It was only after the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to defend its actions before a federal judge that I was finally able to clear my name and be with them again.
We are brought up to believe that such things cannot happen in our country. They can. And they are happening right now. Our criminal justice system is designed to place a premium on due process – notice of charges, the presumption of innocence, requiring the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to a jury of one’s peers. A delicate balance exists that prevents persons accused of committing crimes from being held incommunicado without charges filed, supported by probable cause.
Whether the charge is drunk driving, murder, rape, shoplifting or speeding, the defense lawyer’s job in defending the client is to provide the balance necessary to make sure the system remains true to its ideals – that no matter the crime or the evidence that the person is provided the full panoply of rights to which he or she is entitled. When these rights are discarded, whatever the reason, we all are the losers.
If you are facing criminal or traffic charges in Maryland state or federal court, call Leonard R. Stamm or Johanna Leshner of Goldstein & Stamm, P.A. at 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.