HE IS: One of just a few African-American lawyers to represent a prisoner being held in the infamous Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention center. A lifelong Gary, Indiana, resident, Bullock is also running to become a state representative for his district this May.
FREEDOM FIGHTER: Bullock opened a law firm in 2004 specializing in civil rights and job discrimination cases. Two years later, he partnered with the Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group seeking pro bono lawyers for Guantánamo Bay detainees, who had been confined without ever being charged with a specific crime.
BEFORE THE JUDGE: Bullock’s client, an Afghani captured in Pakistan, has been held for six years. (Bullock can’t elaborate on the case, but says that post-9/11 the U.S. government offered money for information leading to the capture of suspected terrorists, which resulted in a number of false accusations.) “If the detainees are guilty of some action against the U.S., then clearly they should be punished,” Bullock says. “But at the very least, they should be told the basis of their detention—and be provided with some mechanism for challenging it.” The Supreme Court agreed, ruling in 2008 that Guantánamo prisoners have the right to a hearing to determine whether their detention is lawful. Bullock is working to arrange one for his client.
LAW AND ORDER: President Obama has pledged to close Guantánamo and has proposed moving some detainees to an Illinois prison. However, Bullock says, “For me, closing Guantánamo isn’t really the issue. The issue is whether my client will get to give evidence of his innocence.” As for critics alarmed by the prospect of having detainees on American soil, Bullock is sympathetic but unwavering. “We have tried terror suspects [here] before. . . and we hold all kinds of bad people in jail all the time,” he counters. “The bottom line is we can’t simply say that because the government [alleges] that these people are terrorists they don’t get due process. I don’t think I want to live in a country that [believes] that.”