Group Files Complaint to Disbar Dershowitz
Council on American-Islamic Relations
November 23, 2002

WASHINGTON D.C., – An American Muslim legal group today announced the filing of a complaint with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers demanding disciplinary action against Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. The Muslim Legal Defense and Education Fund (MLDEF) says Dershowitz violated rules of professional conduct when he advocated the commission of war crimes and the use of torture.

MLDEF will hold a conference call today at 11 a.m. (EST) to discuss its complaint. Media professionals may call 510-220-1414 to receive the phone number and password.

In an article published in the Jerusalem Post and the New York Daily News on March 11, 2002, Dershowitz advised the Israeli government to establish a "waiting list" of Palestinian villages scheduled for destruction as a means of deterring future suicide bombers. In so doing, he has violated Rule 8.4 (d) of the "Rules of Professional Conduct" which states: "It is professional misconduct for a lawyer [in Mass.] to engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice."

As an officer of the legal system Prof. Dershowitz has sworn an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Massachusetts and of the United States. The latter includes international treaties and conventions to which the United States is a signatory.

The destruction of villages is a Nuremberg War Crime and is contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states: "No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed," and "collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."

The Geneva Convention is a ratified treaty and is therefore a valid Federal law of the United States.

"Traditionally the international community has only had the capacity to deal with ethnic cleansing and genocide, through humanitarian assistance for the victims or through war crimes tribunals, after it has occurred," said MLDEF Chair Al- Hajj Talib Karim Esq. "A much more effective approach would be to censure those who are in the midst of laying the pseudo-legal foundation for war crimes in the hope that the momentum towards such acts is slowed or stopped," said Karim.

He added, "Surely the Board of Bar Overseers would have reprimanded a Massachusetts lawyer who advocated in a Nazi-era newspaper for the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto. Such behavior is unbecoming of a lawyer, and those who advocate such things ought to be disciplined."

Dershowitz recently advocated formulating a legal mechanism that would allow police to obtain warrants permitting the use of torture.

PRESS CONTACT: Farhan Memon, 510-220-1414,

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