Terror Case Judge Interviewed Witness At CIA

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The Detroit judge who presided over the biggest terrorism trial since Sept. 11, 2001, went to CIA headquarters and helped interview a witness whose testimony later became key to the judge’s reversal of convictions in the case, the Associated Press reports. Government officials said the judge and Justice Department officials worked together outside the presence of defense lawyers to conduct the interview because of concerns about protecting secret information under the Classified Information Procedures Act. Legal specialists said U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen’s actions were highly unusual and could provide grounds to challenge his impartiality because he assumed the role of investigator while he continued to preside over the case. “Based on those facts, is it proper? The answer is no,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor who has followed the unraveling of the Detroit terror case. “A judge is not supposed to engage in investigation off the [official court] record and with people who are aligned with one of the parties.”

Specialists said CIPA does not exempt judges from ethics rules and that Rosen should have formally notified both sides and held a closed-door hearing for those with security clearances if he wanted to hear from the witness. “CIPA doesn’t really contemplate a judge doing his own national security investigative work,” said John Barrett, a law professor at St. John’s University. “This is a novel situation.”

Link: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2004/10/08/judges_interview_in_antiterr

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