News & Commentary written by David Nevin

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David Nevin


David Nevin has been a criminal defense attorney for more than 25 years. He has obtained acquittals in a number of high profile prosecutions, including the 1993 Ruby Ridge case, and the recent terrorism prosecution of a Saudi Arabian graduate student, Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. Nevin graduated from Colorado State University with a BA in English Literature in 1974, and from law school at the University of Idaho in 1978. After law school he served as an Instructor of Law at the University Of Toledo College Of Law in Toledo, Ohio, and as a law clerk for the Hon. Jos. J. McFadden, Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court.

Nevin is a Fellow, and the current Idaho State Chair, of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is a founder and past President of the Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and is the namesake of its annual Nevin Professionalism Award. Nevin serves as an Adjunct Professor of Trial Practice at the University of Idaho College of Law, and has been qualified as an expert witness on the standards for constitutionally effective assistance of counsel in both capital and non-capital cases. He is a frequent lecturer and author on issues involving criminal law and civil rights, including appearances on National Public Radio and Court TV.

Statement of Scott McKay & David Nevin

We are defense attorneys who communicate with clients and their family members, potential clients, witnesses and potential witnesses via international and domestic calls and emails. We are concerned that, under the new law, the National Security Agency may be monitoring our communications, particularly because there have been numerous reports that the government is monitoring communications in and out of countries in which we have clients.

Confidential communications are the bedrock of criminal representation and essential to our work. We have an ethical obligation to maintain client confidentiality, and we can’t have substantive legal communications about the cases in which we are involved if we can’t ensure that those communications are confidential.

We are joining the lawsuit because the new wiretapping law will make ethical, effective representation of our clients nearly impossible. For example, we have one client in Saudi Arabia for whom representation will require a great deal of communication. Because the new law permits the government to intercept international calls and emails between people in the U.S. and people abroad without a warrant or any real oversight, we will be forced to travel to Saudi Arabia for face-to-face contact every time we want to speak with him or his family about the case, which is entirely impractical. But it will be the only way to ensure our communications are truly confidential.

In addition, we have recently joined the ACLU’s John Adams Project, which was formed to assemble civilian defense teams to assist in the representation of Guantanamo detainees at their military commissions. As part of that Project, we have offered to represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the government accuses of masterminding the 9/11 attacks. Our offer of representation has required us to be in regular correspondence with Mohammed’s military defense counsel and to visit Guantanamo on more than one occasion. Our work may require us to correspond with potential witnesses about sensitive information, making us even more susceptible to improper government surveillance.

We are hopeful that this law will be overturned in order protect attorney-client confidentiality, which is essential to the American justice system.