Jay Bybee

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Jay S. Bybee (1953-) is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. While Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, he, or his staff, developed the legal guidance that certain enhanced interrogation techniques, as well as extrajudicial detention procedures did not violate U.S. or international laws concerning torture or extrajudicial detention. In addition to his judicial appointment, he is a founder and adjunct professor of the Boyd Law School of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. [1]

Current issues

He is one of several U.S. government legal and policy advisers, against whom criminal charges for the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay detention camp is being considered in Spain. The Spanish Attorney General did not accept prosecutors' proposals to proceed, although the final decision is with a Spanish judge. The others are University of California at Berkeley law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. "Jim" Haynes II, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith.[2]

In this matter, he is being represented pro bono by Maureen Mahoney of Latham & Watkins; he has recused himself from any cases involving that firm.

He has authorized a defense fund for legal fees should he be disciplined or impeached, under rules that prevent him from knowing who contributes. [3] One of the organizations supporting it is Keep America Safe, headed by Liz Cheney.


The Senate confirmed his appointment to the Court by a 74-19 vote on March 13, 2003. During the confirmation hearings, he was criticized for a restricted view of Federal power as opposed to state authority, and of individual rights. [4] to approve the George W. Bush's nomination of Bybee.


He held a variety of academic appointments. After leaving the White House, he moved from Assistant to Full Professor at Louisiana State University between 1991 and 1998, and then moved to the University of Nevada in 1999. [5]

Executive Branch

From 2001 to 2003, he was Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that advises other offices in the executive branch of the legality of proposed actions. One of his deputies was John Yoo. Prior to the Office of Legal Counsel, he was Associate Counsel to the President George W. Bush (1989-91).

From 1984 to 1989, he was a staff attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, first in the Office of Legal Policy and then in the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division.

Education and early career

He received a B.A. (Magna Cum Laude, and with Highest Honors) in Economics (1977) and J.D. (Cum Laude), J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University. After graduation, he was a Law Clerk for The Honorable Donald Russell, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (1980-81). Bybee then was in private practice with Sidley & Austin, Washington, DC (1981-84)


  1. Fall 2008 Adjunct and Visiting Professor Biographies, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, July 11, 2008
  2. Ashby Jones (April 17, 2009), "Judge Bybee Lands Pro-Bono Help From Latham’s Mahoney", Wall Street Journal
  3. Michael Isikoff (19 November 2009), "Torture Memo Author Sets Up Defense Fund to Fight Possible Impeachment", Newsweek
  4. Kenneth Ofgang (March 14, 2003), "Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee Confirmed as Ninth Circuit Judge", Metropolitan News-Enterprise
  5. Jay S. Bybee, Curriculum Vitae