DALLAS, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --- The 6,300 members of the American Board of Trial Advocates have urged President Bush and Secretary of State Rice to condemn the acts of Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who, in effect, imposed martial law and suspended the constitution and courts of Pakistan. "Sadly, history has repeatedly shown us that actions such as these are usually the precursor to the total suppression of individual rights and freedoms of a country and its people," said ABOTA President Lewis R. Sifford. "It is the inherent right of free people to speak openly and critically of their government and leaders and a country's constitution -- courts, judges and attorneys are safeguards of that precious right." In Nov. 9 letters to President Bush and Secretary of State Rice, Mr. Sifford urged the United States to take all reasonable steps to condemn the acts of President Musharraf and to demand cessation of the oppression of the Pakistani people and their constitution, courts, judges and attorneys. "The suppression of the rule of law in Pakistan and the arrests, detentions, and beatings of judges and attorneys who have opposed such actions must be condemned in the strongest and most forceful way by the government of the United States," Mr. Sifford said. Pakistan president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, made an emergency declaration saying he needed additional powers to combat terrorism. The chief justice of the country's Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was fired by General Musharraf on Nov. 3 and has been placed under house arrest. His arrest came days before the Supreme Court was expected to declare Gen. Musharraf ineligible for another term in office. Gen. Musharraf suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Supreme Court, and blacked out all independent and international television news channels in Pakistan. Supreme Court judges, like Mr. Chaudhry, who refused to declare the general's move legal, were placed under house arrest. Mr. Sifford also voiced concerns about the threats to judicial independence, the deliberate violations against lawyers, and suspending a country's constitution. "The American Board of Trial Advocates steadfastly supports the rule of law in Pakistan and all who bravely defy the attempts to suppress or end it," Mr. Sifford said. ABOTA is a national association of more than 6,300 experienced judges and trial lawyers. Founded in 1958, ABOTA is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges. ABOTA and its members are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foundation of ABOTA is an affiliated charitable entity, the mission of which is to support the purposes of ABOTA through education and research. ABOTA membership consists of more than 6,300 lawyers and judges spread among 93 Chapters in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. ABOTA publishes Voir Dire magazine, which features in-depth articles on current and historical issues related to constitutional rights, in particular the Seventh Amendment right to trial by jury.
SOURCE American Board of Trial Advocates