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Thu May 10, 2012, 03:27 AM

Report: Appeals court chokes off Gitmo reviews

An academic analysis finds that the federal appeals court in Washington has effectively blunted a 2008 Supreme Court decision giving terrorist suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay naval brig the right to contest their confinement.

The study by Seton Hall University law professors says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has largely blocked efforts by the detainees to win their freedom by ordering lower court judges to take a more accepting view of the government's evidence justifying their continued imprisonment.

The report says that since a key appeals court decision in 2010, only one of the dozen detainees whose cases were heard by federal trial court judges in Washington won a court order for his release. And that order was later overturned by appellate judges.

In the past two years, "a clear pattern has now emerged: Almost no detainees will prevail at the district court level, and if any do, the D.C. Circuit will likely reverse the decision to grant them relief," the report said.

Seton Hall Law Report Reveals Courts Deny GTMO Habeas Relief and Fail to Reject Government Allegations at Unusually High Rates Since Appeals Court Decision in 2010

Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy & Research has issued a report: “No Hearing Habeas: D.C. Circuit Restricts Meaningful Review.”

Within the context of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which demanded a robust and “meaningful review” of the legality of the Guantanamo detainees’ detention, the report examines the stark differences of actual practice. The report finds that the promise of Boumediene has been effectively negated by decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, beginning in 2010 with Al-Adahi v. Obama.

Seton Hall Law Professor and Director of the Center for Policy and Research, Mark P. Denbeaux, stated, “Since Al-Adahi, judges are effectively robo-signing denials and rubber-stamping government allegations. The Supreme Court gaveth and the Appeals Court taketh away.”

The report finds and documents a marked difference between the first 34 habeas decisions (before Al-Adahi) and the last 12 (after Al-Adahi) in both the number of times that detainees win habeas petitions and the frequency in which the trial court has deferred to the government’s factual allegations rather than reject them.


An Analysis of the Proceedings of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals at Guantánamo


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