William G. Otis

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William "Bill" G. Otis (born July 27, 1946) is a law professor and former federal prosecutor who served as Special Counsel to President George H. W. Bush.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina (1968) and Stanford Law School (1974), Otis is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center.[1] He also contributes to the legal blog Crime and Consequences.[2]

In 2007, Otis wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post urging President George W. Bush to commute the prison sentence imposed on Scooter Libby, who had been sentenced to 30 months in prison, a $250,000 fine, and two years of probation for his role in the aftermath of the Valerie Plame affair.[3] Approximately one month after Otis's piece appeared, Bush commuted Libby's prison sentence, while leaving the rest of the sentence intact.[4]

Otis spent much of his career as head of the Appellate Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. For ten years, he was a member of the Attorney General's Advisory Subcommittee on the Sentencing Guidelines. In 1992, during the investigation into "Iraqgate," he served as Special Counsel for President George H. W. Bush. He returned to the U.S. Attorney's Office the next year, and ended his tenure there in 1999. He returned to federal service three years later as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Energy. In 2003, he was appointed Counselor to the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, where he remained until 2007.

Otis has appeared before both houses of the United States Congress as an expert witness on diverse subjects in criminal law including the death penalty, illegal drugs, and the United States Sentencing Commission. He has been interviewed on these and other subjects by The New York Times, The Atlantic magazine, CBS's 60 Minutes, The O'Reilly Factor, ABC News, and MSNBC. He has written op-ed pieces for various newspapers on topics including legal ethics, Miranda warnings, and the firing of U.S. Attorneys by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

A survivor of liver cancer thanks to a liver transplant, Otis is married to Lee Liberman Otis, a co-founder and officer of the Federalist Society.[5]


  1. ^ "Georgetown Law - William G. Otis - J.D. Adjunct Faculty". Law.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  2. ^ "Crime and Consequences Blog". Crimeandconsequences.com. 2012-02-06. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  3. ^ "William Otis - Neither Prison Nor Pardon". Washingtonpost.com. 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Bush Commutes Libby's Prison Sentence". Washingtonpost.com. 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  5. ^ "Determined Lawyer Becomes Cancer Warrior - Washington, DC". Georgetownuniversityhospital.org. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 

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