Federal Court Finds Obama Appointees Interfered With New Black Panther Prosecution

Kane Fernau 2012/07/30 23:15:34

Federal Court Finds Obama Appointees Interfered With New Black Panther Prosecution

A federal court in Washington, DC, held today that political
appointees appointed by President Obama did interfere with the
Department of Justice’s prosecution of the New Black Panther Party.

The ruling came as part of a motion by the conservative legal watch
dog group Judicial Watch, who had sued the DOJ in federal court to
enforce a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents
pertaining to the the New Black Panthers case. Judicial Watch had
secured many previously unavailable documents through their suit against
DOJ and were now suing for attorneys’ fees.

Obama’s DOJ had claimed Judicial Watch was not entitled to attorney’s
fees since “none of the records produced in this litigation evidenced
any political interference whatsoever in” how the DOJ handled the New
Black Panther Party case. But United States District Court Judge Reggie
Walton disagreed. Citing a “series of emails” between Obama political
appointees and career Justice lawyers, Walton writes:

The documents reveal that political appointees within DOJ were
conferring about the status and resolution of the New Black Panther
Party case in the days preceding the DOJ’s dismissal of claims in that
case, which would appear to contradict Assistant Attorney General
Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in that
decision. Surely the public has an interest in documents that cast doubt
on the accuracy of government officials’ representations regarding the
possible politicization of agency decision-making.

In sum, the
Court concludes that three of the four fee entitlement factors weigh in
favor of awarding fees to Judicial Watch. Therefore, Judicial Watch is
both eligible and entitled to fees and costs, and the Court must now
consider the reasonableness of Judicial Watch’s requested award.

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