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June 13, 2009
Judge rules Padilla can sue former DOJ lawyer John Yoo (updated)
In a surprising ruling, a federal judge has determined that convicted terrorist, Jose Padilla, can sue former Department of Justice lawyer, John Yoo, over Yoo’s legal opinion that led to Padilla being held as an enemy combatant.
US District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California based in San Francisco, denied a Department of Justice motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Padilla’s lawyers contend that Yoo’s legal opinions allowed the US military to detain Padilla as an enemy combatant which led to Padilla being subjected to torture. As reported by local TV station KTVU:
The judge found that
Obama’s Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder is handling the case.
Coincidentally, Yoo is currently a Professor of Law at the University of California Boalt School Of Law while Judge White taught at the same school before he was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2002. In another coincidence, Yoo’s boss at the time, DoJ Office of Legal Counsel head, Jay Bybee, now sits on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco where the likely appeal will be heard. Bybee signed the memos which Yoo drafted. (Bybee of course, would not participate in the case.)
This ruling, unless it is overturned on appeal, will further erode the presumption that government officials have immunity from lawsuit when they act in their official capacity. This ruling also gives the judicial branch even more oversight of the executive branch in time of war.
Update - Cliff Thier writes:
If it's good for the goose.
I thought I might get my hands on the Complaint in the suit against John Yoo, pull out the facts and replace them with blank spaces, and substitute the name Eric Holder, and the names of various assistant AGs as the Defendants. Put the date January 22, 2012.
Just to have it ready. Save time later.
Now that a federal judge has okayed suing members of the executive branch for doing their jobs and for merely giving their legal opinion. I wonder what damages I could ask for.
I'm sure Holder will do something wrong. Overstep or understep. Something will come up.
And, some lawyer in the Obama administration will write a brief saying something that will later prove to have, at least in some tangential way at least, contributed to something bad happening.
No harm being prepared.
P.S. Some attorneys in the Justice Department (or Health and Human Services) are certainly going to write briefs helping along nationalization of health care. Well, one thing we can be sure of is that waiting times and rationing treatments are going to cause an increase in death.
Those lawyers better be ready for the law suits they're going to be hit with when they leave government service.