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At first, the idea seemed like a fine way to make a name for themselves. “No existing book or edited volume captures this most important and exciting legal debate of the decade,” wrote two clerks for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit who wanted to edit a collection of essays in a proposal for a book titled The Detention Debate: Habeas Corpus and the War on Terror. But the plan backfired, and Derek Smith and Blaine Evanson were forced to drop the book proposal last week by their boss, Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who clearly wasn’t happy about the imbroglio. The problems arose when the proposal, which was e-mailed to constitutional scholars across the country, surfaced on the Concurring Opinion blog. Readers questioned whether it was a conflict of interest with their work as clerks for Randolph, who wrote three key decisions on the Guant�namo detainees, including Boumediene v. Bush and two cases already overturned by the Supreme Court, Rasul v. Bush and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. It was a connection the two clerks flaunted, noting they had a “unique perspective” because of their clerkships “during a year that saw several landmark detention decisions likely to end up before the Supreme Court.” But the two clerks forgot to ask permission from Randolph until after the criticism surfaced in the blogosphere. Randolph said Smith and Evanson couldn’t comment, but he told Legal Times last week the two clerks “messed up, and I have instructed them to withdraw it.” Asked whether he thought the book proposal created conflicts of interest for the two clerks, Randolph replied, “The most I’ll say is maybe there is a technical way to defend it, but it doesn’t comport to my standards.” Randolph, who has four clerks, wouldn’t say whether Smith or Evanson had been assigned to work on any of the Guant�namo cases, but he said both men will finish their yearlong clerkships.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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