Haynes and Boone Attorneys Help UT Law Clinic Win Appeal in Guantánamo Detainee’s Habeas Case


AUSTIN – With the pro bono assistance of Haynes and Boone, LLP attorneys, the University of Texas School of Law’s National Security Clinic has won an important appeal on behalf of an Afghan citizen detained at Guantánamo for more than eight years.

New York Partner Kendyl Hanks and Washington, D.C. Associate Nora Van Horssen worked with other volunteer attorneys and clinic students and faculty to prepare the briefs successfully used in the case before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The win means the detainee can now challenge his incarceration at the Guantánamo Bay facility.

“We’re very proud of the work done by Kendyl and Nora in this long-running, unfortunate case,” said Alan Wright, chair of the Haynes and Boone Public Service Committee. “They stepped up to volunteer their expertise at a crucial time for the clinic’s efforts, and it paid off.”

The clinic began representing a man known only as Obaydullah back in 2009. His habeas case had been filed years prior, but had been stayed in the D.C. district court because pending military commission charges against him were pending.

When the Obama administration ended the military commissions, the clinic challenged the stay but lost in the lower court. On appeal, the clinic and volunteer attorneys argued that because the military commissions were stalled, Obaydullah was entitled to proceed with his habeas case to challenge his detention.

In an opinion issued June 18, the D.C. Circuit Court agreed that Supreme Court precedent requires the district court to move the case forward without further delays. As a result of the victory, Obaydullah can now go forward with his habeas case, in which the federal government must prove that his detention is valid.

Haynes and Boone, LLP is an international corporate law firm with offices in Texas, New York, California, Washington, D.C., Mexico City and Moscow, providing a full spectrum of legal services. With almost 550 attorneys, Haynes and Boone is ranked among the largest law firms in the nation by The National Law Journal. The firm has been recognized as one of the "Best Corporate Law Firms in America" (Corporate Board Member Magazine, 2001-2009), as one of "The Best 20 Law Firms to Work For" (Vault.com, 2009), and as a Top 100 law firm for both diversity (MultiCultural Law Magazine, 2009) and women (Women 3.0, 2008).

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