03 August 2007

appeals court sides with congressman jefferson

We hold that the compelled disclosure of privileged material to the Executive during execution of the search warrant for Rayburn House Office Building Room 2113 violated the Speech or Debate Clause and that the Congressman is entitled to the return of documents that the court determines to be privileged under the Clause.
Court: FBI Violated Constitution in Raid
Aug 3 11:18 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI violated the Constitution when agents raided U.S. Rep. William Jefferson's office last year and viewed legislative documents, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The court ordered the Justice Department to return any privileged documents it seized from the Louisiana Democrat's office on Capitol Hill. The court did not order the return of all the documents seized in the raid.

Jefferson argued that the first-of-its-kind raid trampled congressional independence. The Justice Department said that declaring the search unconstitutional would essentially prohibit the FBI from ever looking at a lawmaker's documents.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected that claim. The three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the search itself was constitutional but that FBI agents crossed the line when they viewed every record in the office without giving Jefferson the chance to argue that some documents involved legislative business.
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