For Former Military Lawyer Colby Vokey, the Defense Never Rests
Once an outspoken judge advocate, Dallas' Colby Vokey was chased from the Marines, but he's still defending troops -- and still speaking his mind.
Original Article published April 5, 2012 - Dallas Observer
Colby Vokey emerges from behind his wooden desk and crouches into a shallow squat, his broad shoulders eating up the space in front of the panoramic windows that overlook downtown Dallas. He bends at the knees and stretches his hands behind him, his crisp, dark suit crumpling unnaturally.
"The purpose is to create stress on your joints," Vokey says. His office walls skim the highlights of his life — college and law school diplomas, a Dallas Morning News story about his retirement from the Marines, a Wall Street Journal story about a teenage detainee whom Vokey defended at Guantanamo Bay. Vokey retired from the military in 2008 as a lieutenant colonel, but he still spends most of his time defending the accused in high-profile military cases — including one of the soldiers charged with manslaughter in the recent suicide of Chinese-American Army Private Danny Chen.
It creates incredible pain, Vokey goes on, still crouching. He's attempting to capture, as best he can from the comfort of an Uptown office tower, how that teenage detainee in the Journal story was shackled to the floor with his hands and feet chained together. Omar Khadr was 15 when he threw a grenade that killed an American soldier in Afghanistan, and he was among the youngest to be sentenced to Guantanamo. Shackled to the ground in prison, he eventually tipped over, Vokey says. The guards yanked him by his hair back into position. After a while, Vokey says, the boy urinated on himself. The guards squirted the ground with disinfectant and used Khadr as a human mop, swirling him in his own mess.
If there was a way to bring the scenario closer, to walk you through the halls of Guantanamo, to introduce you to his former client, Vokey would do it. But for now, crouching into this mock stress position, in the middle of his office high above McKinney Avenue, is the best he can do to make Guantanamo feel less distant, to help you grasp how this case, while meant to break his client, nearly broke him.