- - Monday, May 16, 2016

The early morning calm of October 23, 1983, was shattered when an Iranian suicide bomber drove a truck with 21,000 pounds of explosives into the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Two-hundred-forty-one Marines, soldiers and sailors were killed. Another 115 Americans were wounded.

It was the worst single day death toll the Marines had suffered since Iwo Jima in 1945.

This Memorial Day will be the 32nd that the families of the Beirut Marines have spent without their loved ones. The 32nd Memorial Day the wounded have lived, and some of them with horrifying injuries.

This story didn’t end in 1983.

In 2001, 18 years after the bombing, the families of the Marines and the survivors filed suit against Iran. A federal judge heard the case, including evidence from the National Security Agency, that had intercepts of Iran giving the orders for the bombing. By 2007, the federal judge awarded the Beirut Marine plaintiffs $2.6 billion in damages.

No one expected Iran to pay, but then a funny thing happened. A frozen bank account belonging to Iran — Bank Markazi, Iran’s central bank — was discovered in 2008. In 2010, the Beirut Marine plaintiffs filed suit to execute judgment on Bank Markazi for the Beirut Marines.

Enter the law firm of Chaffetz Lindsey.

Chaffetz Lindsey is a boutique New York law firm and it chose to represent Iran in litigation against the families of American victims of terrorism.

Some people are asking why does an American law firm represent a terrorist nation like Iran?

Iran has no right to an American lawyer.

The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to counsel in criminal cases only. The Beirut case is a civil case. The Seventh Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to a civil jury trial. It does not guarantee the right to counsel in a civil case.

So why did an American law firm take Iran on as a client?

The law firm would not answer that question. When asked about the Iran litigation, the Chaffetz Lindsey attorney representing Iran, Andreas Frischknecht, said he had no comment.

Law firms, particularly large, prestigious law firms, will often do pro bono work. That is work they do not charge for, as a public service. Does anyone really believe Chaffetz Lindsey took the Iran litigation pro bono?

No, what probably happened is that Iran hired Chaffetz Lindsey and paid Chaffetz Lindsey well to fight the case in the U.S. District Court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a May 4th letter to Judge Katherine Forrest, the trial judge, Chaffetz Lindsey suggests this litigation is not over.

If Chaffetz Lindsey files more post judgment motions after the final order from the Supreme Court comes down, around May 20th, the families of the Beirut Marines could mark the 33rd Anniversary of the attack this October, still uncompensated by Iran.

What do Chaffetz Lindsey’s American clients think about the firm they hired representing Iran against the American families of the Beirut Marines? Perhaps someone should ask them.

But the question remains, why does an American law firm choose to represent the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world? Chaffetz Lindsey was under no obligation to take Iran on as a client. Law firms are free to reject clients for almost any reason at all, including the fact they do not like the client and do not support what the client believes in.

Yet in a fight between the families of American Marines who gave their lives for this nation and the terrorist state of Iran, the American law firm of Chaffetz Lindsey chose the terrorist state of Iran over the families of Beirut Marines.

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