Hey! Mori's moved to Melbourne....plans to work for what appears to be an activist law firm!
US lawyer for David Hicks takes a Shine to Melbourne
July 16, 2012 /Age/SMH
American lawyer Michael Mori with two of his three sons, Enrico (far left) and Dante. Photo: Simon Schluter
IN A personal reinvention, the US military lawyer who represented Guantanamo detainee David Hicks has moved to Australia to work as a civilian lawyer.
Major Michael Mori, as he was known then, is ensconced in Melbourne's inner north with his wife and three sons and is already showing he is in tune with the rhythms of his adopted state: he is looking for an AFL team to support.
Meanwhile, he starts a new job today - as plain Mr Mori - in the Lonsdale Street offices of the plaintiff law firm Shine.
While he always had a soft spot for Australia after first visiting on a rugby tour here in his 20s and later making trips advocating for his controversial client, the move to join the Australian legal community was not a carefully laid plan, although he had been scouting for new directions.
''Australia was sort of more a fantasy; my name got into the paper a little bit, but was it really going to lead to a job?''
Overlooked three times for promotion after his advocacy for Mr Hicks and public criticism of the US military commission trial processes, Mr Mori maintains a lawyerly caution these days about whether his role in the international legal saga was the kiss of death for his 22-year career in the US Marine Corps.
It is a matter of public record, however, that he was threatened in 2007 with court martial by the then chief prosecutor at Guantanamo for speaking out for Mr Hicks. Other military lawyers, according to US press reports, also found careers stalled after representing accused terrorists.
In his book Guantanamo: My Journey, Mr Hicks described Mr Mori as a ''courageous man with a big heart''.
Mr Mori, 46, secured his hard-fought promotion to lieutenant-colonel in 2009 and ended up as a military judge in Hawaii. He handed in his retirement papers this year, but remains technically a marine until October.
Starting out in the law as something of an accidental advocate - ''being a lawyer was really just a job for the Marine Corps for me'' - Mr Mori's philosophy is a simple one: everyone is entitled to fair representation.
Although he has to study some local subjects to gain formal admission as a solicitor in Victoria, he will immediately take a role expanding his new firm's social justice work. The intent is to work for the ''Davids'' over the legal ''Goliaths''.
Mr Mori - known to family and friends by his middle name, Dan - also plans to develop interests in criminal law and has been following the issue of sexual abuse in the Australian military which, he says, has echoes of what has occurred in the US.
Does he stay in touch with Mr Hicks, now a free man living in Sydney after a plea deal that he helped him strike in 2007? ''You can't sit in a room with someone for 3½ years and not [be friends]. Yes, I consider David a friend, I would always be there and help him if I could.''
Hope he loves it and is really successful.
I have a SERIOUS case of the respects for that man.
Hicks's former lawyer moves down under
VIDEO: Updated July 16, 2012 15:09:36
David Hicks's former defence counsel, Michael Mori has moved to Australia to work as a civilian lawyer.
Source: ABC News | Duration: 4min 44sec
About-face on Hicks a victory for the bullied
July 25, 2012/Sydney Morning Herald
'Alford plea' ... David Hicks. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
So the Australian government has shot itself in the foot while aiming at David Hicks. It would be funny if it weren't so appalling.
The withdrawal of the dubious literary proceeds of crime action against Hicks raises questions the Commonwealth DPP has not fully answered. Why was the case dropped? What new material was presented by Hicks that prosecutors were unaware of when launching proceedings?
The DPP's statement acknowledges the plea Hicks entered in the US - an ''Alford plea'' whereby a defendant is able to acknowledge the evidence without admitting commission of the offences charged - ''is not recognised in Australia''. Furthermore, the DPP was unable to ''satisfy the court that the admissions should be relied upon'', and the defendant ''served evidential material not previously available to the CDPP & AFP''.
Egged on by the shadow attorney-general, George Brandis, who, thanks to the plea bargain orchestrated by John Howard, can refer to Hicks as ''a convicted terrorist'', the DPP's decision to commence proceedings seemed extraordinary at the time.
In Australian law, evidence of a confession is not admissible unless the court is satisfied the confession was not influenced by violent, oppressive, inhuman or degrading conduct, or by a threat of conduct of that kind.Does anyone believe this is not precisely how confessions were extracted at Guantanamo Bay?
However, what we ''believe'' is not the point. The point is that it was about to be proved in a court of law, as the DPP's actions demonstrate.
All the evidence pointed to the fact Hicks's statements about what he had done in Afghanistan were the result of mistreatment by the Americans. Indeed, Hicks's book goes into painful detail on that very subject, and on his attempts to get help from Australian authorities who were aware of his treatment. He has come dangerously close to proving this in court.
From the start, it must have been blindingly obvious to the prosecutors that the evidence they relied on to establish what Hicks had done was evidence produced by torture and oppressive treatment. The only conclusion to be drawn is that the government was banking on Hicks's poor psychological state and underestimated the support he would receive to obtain a just outcome under Australian law.
This episode is an example of what happens to bullies when someone stands up to them. The actions of the Australian government in Hicks's case have been reprehensible, with no difference between the approaches of the Howard and Gillard governments. He has not been able to recover from what is now a 10-year ordeal.
The sad facts are that the Howard government would not bring Hicks back to Australia because he had not broken any Australian law. He had not broken any American law either. He was ultimately given the choice of pleading guilty to a trumped-up charge under a retrospective law, or staying in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely.
After five years at Guantanamo, Hicks was close to killing himself. He signed on the dotted line. Upon finishing his sentence -handed down by a subsequently discredited military commission - in South Australia's Yatala prison, he wrote Guantanamo: My Journey. I hope this now means the book will again become available.
The Australian government's approach to Hicks is now being echoed in its treatment of Julian Assange. Accusations of ''wilful blindness'' on the part of our government are growing. Ironically, Assange is now also being represented in Australia by Julian Burnside, QC, who represented Hicks in the literary Proceeds of Crime action. Burnside has written to the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, with very specific questions about what the government knows about moves in the US to indict Assange, and what measures it is taking to protect his rights. His detailed letter went to some lengths to set out the known facts. The response was the usual claptrap about knowing nothing.
The only conclusion to be drawn, says Burnside, is that the government is aware of American plans from which Assange needs protection, or it has suspicions about American plans and prefers to turn a blind eye.
They are banking on our lack of interest to get away with it, again.