Best Lawyer - 2006
Khurrum Wahid has the most unpopular important job in the country. An attorney with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and New York, Wahid represents Muslims in federal court against terrorism charges. Wahid was a federal public defender in Miami when terrorists flew commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center. At that time, people asked him what he thought the U.S. government would do to Muslims in the country. "And I said, I wouldn't worry about it, because my experience has been the government and law enforcement have always been a group that has worked smart, has worked with surgical precision as opposed to the broad brush," Wahid told National Public Radio for a segment on post-9/11 civil liberties. "I was wrong. It turns out they were as reactionary and as emotional as everyone across the country." Now a private attorney, Wahid has handled the cases of dozens of Muslims who have been detained by the government, many without just cause. What's more, Wahid hasn't shied away from controversial cases. Most recently, he represented Abu Ali, who in March was sentenced in Virginia to 30 years in prison for conspiring to assassinate President George W. Bush and aiding al Qaeda. The government's case was built around confessions Ali made in Saudi Arabia. Wahid has maintained that Ali was tortured before making the confessions and is appealing the case. Let's be clear: Wahid's job isn't to defend terrorists; it's to defend civil liberties. And at a time when hundreds of men sit in a military-run jail, with no access to lawyers and no knowledge of the charges against them, the United States needs more fearless attorneys like Wahid.