McGeorge School of Law

Paskey Honored In Demjanjuk Case

November 20, 2008

Professor Steve Paskey received the Assistant Attorney General’s Human Rights Law Enforcement Award on November 18, 2008 for his role as the lead attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in the deportation proceedings against John Demjanjuk, a former guard at a Nazi extermination camp.

Paskey was honored for his work between 2004 and 2007 on the Demjanjuk case, one of the most notorious and long-running in the aftermath of the World War II. Demjanjuk concealed his service as an armed guard at Sobibor, where an estimated 250,000 people were murdered, and two concentration camps in German-occupied Poland when he immigrated to the United States in 1952.

Demjanjuk, an 88-year-old retired auto worker, has been the subject of international news stories since 1977 when the DOJ first submitted a request to have his citizenship revoked. Six years later, he was extradited to Israel and prosecuted as “Ivan the Terrible” of the Treblinka death camp. In 1988, he was found guilty of mass murder and sentenced to death by hanging. In 1993, the Israeli Supreme Court reversed his conviction because of conflicting testimony obtained from Soviet records.

He returned to the United States and won an appellate court decision against his previous conviction. The DOJ filed new charges against him six years later. In 2004, Paskey became involved and the 6 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Demjanjuk could be again stripped of his citizenship. Paskey continued to pursue the necessary rulings from Immigration Court. He won again there and the following year before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Just last week, a German war crimes investigator asked prosecutors to extradite Demjanjuk and charge him with involvement in 29,000 murders.

Paskey, a former senior trial attorney for the DOJ’s Office of Special Investigations, was the lead government lawyer in several other successful prosecutions of Nazi war criminals who slipped into the United States in the years after World War II. Paskey joined the McGeorge faculty in 2007 and is a full-time Legal Process instructor.