Gov’t to Judge: This is Gonna Be a Little Harder Than We Thought

Gov’t to Judge: This is Gonna Be a Little Harder Than We Thought
Chris Bray
FRIDAY, MARCH 9, 2012

Several developments in the legal appeals over the subpoenas of Belfast Project interviews at Boston College:

First, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston has asked the First Circuit for an extra business day to submit its response to a pair of appeals filed by Belfast Project researchers Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney, and to the amicus brief filed by the ACLU of Massachusetts. The government’s brief is below, but here’s the most important piece:

The arguments in these appeals raise a number of issues of first impression regarding the rights of third parties to intervene in or otherwise effect proceedings under the MLAT. In addition, because the appeals implicate an international treaty as well as issues of domestic civil and criminal law, a number of departments of the United States have requested that they be allowed to review and comment on the government’s brief. A draft of the brief has been completed. In order to allow sufficient time for the brief to be reviewed and reviewer comments to be incorporated into the draft, however, the government requests that its deadline be extended by one business day.

In a single paragraph, the DOJ conveys the exceptional importance of the aggressive legal effort from Moloney and McIntyre. With Boston College making no more than limp and polite gestures at challenging these subpoenas, a pair of independent researchers chose to go it alone — aided by capable lawyers, and now joined by the ACLUM — and to fight like hell. The U.S. Attorney’s Office never broke a sweat working against BC’s sad efforts, but now it faces a legal battle over “a number of matters of first impression” that demand the immediate attention of “a number of departments” of the federal government. These appeals will make case law that will define the relationship between researchers and the government for decades to come. Academic news media, get off your asses and pay attention.

Here’s the brief:

Govt Motion to Extend Time to File

Meanwhile, Boston College wages its own halfhearted appeal over a limited portion of the contested subpoenas. On April 4, BC’s lawyers will be in the federal courthouse in Boston at the same time as McIntyre and Moloney’s lawyers. But they won’t be in the same room: While lawyers present oral argument in the researchers’ appeal, BC will be down the hall in a mandatory pre-trial settlement conference with the government:

Settlement Conf

When BC filed its appeal, there was some speculation that their case would be consolidated with the appeals filed by the Belfast Project researchers. The scheduling of these two events on the same day shows that no consolidation is possible. BC and its researchers will undertake wholly distinct efforts. Given the uselessness of BC’s half-assed and sadly limited appeal, that’s for the best.