Students’ research and analysis in the Guantanamo Defense Clinic help them acquire and hone significant legal skills, and are critically important to the military lawyers in the Office of Military Commissions Defense, U.S. Department of Defense, charged with defending detainees. In recognition of the Clinic's contributions to the field, in 2007 it was presented with the Southern Center for Human Rights' Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award.
"The quality of this work is reflected in the fact that the arguments developed by the clinic were cited not only by the Military Judge in the Hamdan case but by the Military Judge in the Khadr case as well, resulting in the dismissal of charges in both cases."
- Lt. Cmdr. Charles D. Swift, Lead Defense Counsel for Salim Ahmed Hamdan.
U.S. Marine Corps Major Derek Poteet, lead military defense counsel for 9/11 defendant Khalid Shaikh Mohammad is grateful for the clinic’s “exceptional” help:
“Given the magnitude and the significance of this highly political case, the defense has been grotesquely under-resourced, especially compared to the prosecution. The caliber of the students’ work under the guidance of an international law scholar like Professor Morris has been exceptional and has been of great help.”
Lt. Col. David Frakt, lead military defense attorney for detainee Mohammad Jawad, called having the benefit of the clinic's expertise "extraordinary:"
“Professor Morris and Allison Hester-Haddad ['08, who directed the clinic in the fall 2008 semester] have encyclopedic knowledge of virtually every issue related to the commissions. On several occasions, I have asked for the clinic to do some quick research on an issue, only to find that they already had a detailed research memorandum on the topic, such as on aspects of the legislative history of the Military Commissions Act.
"I have incorporated significant portions of Guantanamo Defense Clinic products into suppression motions, motions on personal and subject matter jurisdiction, and motions relating to the law of war, detainee abuse, and child soldiers. Professor Morris testified as an expert on three separate jurisdictional motions in the Jawad case and was recognized as a ‘distinguished legal scholar’ in the commissions' rulings. An article on personal jurisdiction she co-wrote with several clinic students was submitted to the commission as persuasive authority."
Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld served as lead prosecutor in the military commission prosecution of Mohammad Jawad. He cross-examined Professor Madeline Morris when she testified as an expert witness on jurisdictional issues in Jawad's defense. Vandeveld subsequently resigned as prosecutor, submitted a declaration, and testified on Jawad's behalf in federal habeas corpus proceedings. He made the following comments in an interview that appeared on "The Moderate Voice" on Feb. 21, 2009:
"My declaration ... describes the seminal and compelling work of Professor Madeline Morris of the Duke University Law School, whose comprehensive knowledge of the history, evolution, and application of the law of war is the most cogent I've seen expressed by anyone to date. Professor Morris submitted to the Commissions a summary analysis of the charges against Jawad, and later testified as a defense expert witness on the subject. Professor Morris's explication — again, as clear and cogent of any I have seen — would convince any objective observer that Jawad's conduct, even if true and provable, did not amount to a violation of the law of war."