RealNews

Court Upholds a Post-9/11 Detention Tactic

Upholding a tactic used by the Justice Department after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the government has authority to detain people for the purpose of having them appear before a grand jury as witnesses. The ruling by the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit reversed a lower court’s finding that the federal “material witness” statute applies only to post-indictment criminal proceedings and not to grand jury investigations. The Justice Department hailed the ruling. “The court’s decision recognizes the important principle that witnesses whose testimony is material to criminal proceedings, including grand juries, may be detained when that detention is reasonable and necessary,” Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said in a statement. But defense lawyers said they fear that the court ruling will encourage law enforcement officials to expand use of what they said has been a rarely used tactic in grand jury proceedings. Full Story

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