Topeka A former Navy lawyer who was convicted during a court martial in 2007 for mailing secret information about Guantanamo Bay detainees is seeking to get his law license reinstated in Kansas.
Attorneys for Matthew Diaz will argue on Thursday before the Kansas Supreme Court to accept a recommendation from the Office of Judicial Administration to suspend his law license for three years effective 2008. Because of the timeline, Diaz would be reinstated with the Kansas bar.
The disciplinary hearing panel said Diaz warranted "significant discipline" for his actions, which included the act of printing and sending classified information and sending it to an unauthorized person.
"The respondent (Diaz) mailed the card the day before he left the island so as to reduce his chance of facing consequences for his actions," the hearing panel noted in its filing with the Kansas Supreme Court.
However, disciplinary administrator Stan Hazlett sought for the panel to recommend disbarring Diaz.
Diaz, who was a lieutenant commander in the Navy, is currently living in New York. He earned his law degree in 1994 from Washburn University in Topeka and was admitted to practice law in Kansas.
He is represented by Wichita attorney Jack Focht who argues that Diaz by virtue of his court martial, discharge from the Navy and prison term had been punished enough for his actions.
Focht argues that Diaz was torn between what he believed was his ethical duty to see that the accused terrorists received legal counsel and his duties as a military officer to obey orders.
Prosecutors say Diaz went to his office in January 2005 and used his classified computer to log onto a classified military network and access a database with detainee information. They say he printed information that included the names of 550 detainees, their nationalities, the interrogators assigned to them and intelligence sources and methods.
Diaz then cut the document into 39 sheets that he placed inside a card with a big heart and a Chihuahua on its front and mailed it to Barbara Olshansky, they say.
At the time, Olshansky worked for the Center for Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit legal group that was suing the federal government to obtain the names of detainees because the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled they had the right to challenge their detention.
She turned the document over to federal authorities, and they traced it to Diaz.
According to court documents, Diaz sent the list of names on the day before he was to leave Guantanamo, knowing that if he was no longer on the island he would not have to answer for his actions.
Diaz's attorneys noted that their client had strong feelings toward prisoner rights. When he was 16 years old, his father, who was a nurse, was convicted in Southern California for multiple counts of murder for injecting patients with a lethal dose of Lidocaine. His father was sentenced to death but died of natural causes in prison in 2010.