|Christian Science Monitor|
|from the October 30, 2003
edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1030/p01s02-usju.html
Secret 9/11 case before high courtThe justices consider a petition for a case with no public record.
By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The complete article is currently (4/3/04) available on the Monitor's website, at-- http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1030/p01s02-usju.html [found through a Google search by article title on the dat
MIAMI - It's the case that doesn't exist. Even though two different federal courts have conducted hearings and issued
rulings, there has been no public record of any action. No documents are available. No files. No lawyer is allowed to speak
about it. Period.
Yet this seemingly phantom case does exist - and is now headed to the US Supreme
Court in what could produce a significant test of a question as old as the Star Chamber, abolished in 17th-century England:
How far should a policy of total secrecy extend into a system of justice?
Secrecy has been a key Bush administration weapon in the war on terrorism.
Federal judges have the authority to order sensitive documents or even entire
hearings sealed from public view when disclosure might harm national security. Such rulings are usually issued after the judge
has explained the need for secrecy in a decision available to the public. ...
What is highly unusual in MKB v. Warden is that lower court judges ordered
the entire case sealed from the start - preventing any mention of it to the public. ...
In her petition to the court, Miami federal public defender Kathleen Williams
says the judges' actions authorizing the secrecy without any public notice, public hearings, or public findings amount to
"an abuse of discretion" that requires corrective action by the justices. ...
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26 Feb : US Supreme Court Approval
for Holding of Secret Trials
was found at-- http://www.legislationline.org/index.php?topic=6
On 23 February, the US Supreme Court gave a green
light for the government to conduct certain federal court cases in total secrecy. In a case with major implications for public
access to the courts, as well as measures against terrorism, the USA’s highest court stated said it will not examine
the circumstances surrounding a habeas corpus appeal filed by an Arab immigrant challenging his detention during the post-9/11
investigation. The proceedings were conducted under a government secrecy request which was upheld by federal judges. The case,
M.K.B. v. Warden, was being closely followed by legal experts as it asked the high court to spell out whether there is a constitutional
requirement that judicial proceedings in the federal courts be conducted in public, or at the very least, noted somewhere
in the public record. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that the public enjoys a right to access certain judicial proceedings.
What is unique about the case of M.K.B. v. Warden is that the entire case including the fact that it existed at all was kept
secret. In effect, the government, judges, and lawyers agreed to keep the matter secret, including the maintaining of a private
docket system accessible only to those authorized. The court is also to review three other terrorism cases, with judgements
to be handed down in April. (CDM)
© OSCE, 2004. Reproduction is authorised, provided the
source is acknowledged, save where otherwise stated.
Christian Science Monitor
from the February 24, 2004 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0224/p04s01-usju.html
Supreme Court decision may limit access to terror cases
The US Supreme
Court has given a green light for the government to conduct certain federal court cases in total secrecy. ...
The existence of the case was revealed by an alert reporter at the Daily Business Review of Miami after a brief
docketing error by an appeals court clerk. But for the error, the press and public may never have learned of the case.
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© 2004 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.