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Darrel Vandeveld

chief public defender, Erie County, Pennsylvania

Darrel J. Vandeveld is a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserve, who served tours of active duty in Bosnia, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan in the years following the 9-11 attacks on the U.S. In 2002, Mr. Vandeveld participated in the rendition of the so-called “Algerian Six” from Bosnia to Guantanamo; in 2008, a federal district court ordered five of the six released, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s seminal decision in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723, which granted Guantanamo detainees (the Algerian Six were the plaintiffs in the case) the right to habeas corpus. In 2007, the Army called Mr. Vandeveld, an experienced prosecutor in civilian life, to serve as a prosecutor in the Guantanamo Military Commissions. In the course of gathering the evidence against Mohammed Jawad, accused of wounding two U.S. soldiers in a hand grenade attack when he was 15-years old, Mr. Vandeveld – who by this time had been convinced by his opposing counsel, Professor David Frakt, of the moral and legal bankruptcy of the Military Commissions – discovered a confession obtained through torture, two suicide attempts by the accused, abusive interrogations, and the withholding of exculpatory evidence from the defense. These experiences led Mr. Vandeveld to a crisis of conscience. After he announced his resignation, his commander ordered a psychiatric evaluation. Professor Frakt later obtained a dismissal of Jawad’s case, in part because of Mr. Vandeveld’s own testimony. He is now Erie County, Pennsylvania's chief public defender. Mr. Vandeveld received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of California.