Tuesday, 24 January 2012

First rulings in my lawsuit over DHS travel records

I've been waiting since the oral argument I attended last September 15th for a decision from Federal District Judge Richard Seeborg in my Privacy Act and FOIA lawsuit against the DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) division for information about their records of my travels.

By a bizarre coincidence, I spent yesterday in Judge Seeborg's courtroom watching a jury be selected for an entirely unrelated Federal criminal trial in which I might be called as a minor witness for the defense. (One night several years ago, I was awakened by the sound of shots outside. I called 911 in case anyone needed medical treatment. I saw nothing, and that's all I know.)

I haven't, so far as I can tell, been properly served with a subpoena in that case, but I had been told by defense counsel that someone from the US Marshal's office had filed a false (and perhaps fraudulent and/or perjured) return of service.

This sort of sewer service is illegal but common. I showed up in court anyway, in an abundance of caution (as lawyers like to say), to make sure there was a record of my voluntary appearance and to bring the possibility of misconduct by the Marshal to the attention of Judge Seeborg and the U.S. Attorney.

I had to wait around until almost 2 p.m. before I got to tell my story to the judge, after which I came home -- leaving behind an FBI agent who followed me down the courthouse corridor calling out, "Mr. Hasbouck? Mr. Hasbrouck? I just want to ask you a few questions...." Right.

Imagine my pleasure and surprise a little later in the afternoon when one of my lawyers sent me a copy of Judge Seeborg's initial rulings in my own case. This was the decision I'd been waiting for since September, and was filed about an hour after I appeared before Judge Seeborg in the (unrelated) third-party criminal matter. Go figure.

Anyway, Judge Seeborg's order addresses some significant Privacy Act issues of first impression. The order grants some of my motions and some of CBP's, and orders us to confer on next steps including additional searches by CBP for responsive records.

I'm very grateful to the work of my lawyers and to the First Amendment Project interns who also worked on the case.

I've posted an analysis of the ruling and its implications in the Identity Project blog (PapersPlease.org).

Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 24 January 2012, 14:48 ( 2:48 PM) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

"...leaving behind an FBI agent who followed me down the courthouse corridor calling out, "Mr. Hasbouck? Mr. Hasbrouck? I just want to ask you a few questions...." Right."

I don't get it. What do you think he actually wanted from you, if not to ask you questions?

Posted by: Gabe, 27 January 2012, 06:51 ( 6:51 AM)
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