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When the Justice Department moved to dismiss Guant�namo Bay habeas petitions in 2004, Judge Richard Leon became a government favorite as the only judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss cases. His reason: The court had no jurisdiction. Leon stuck to that logic last week in another Guant�namo-related ruling. He had been asked to decide whether the government could search attorney-client-privileged material U.S. Navy officials seized during their investigation of three detainee suicides in June. Although Leon reiterated that he did not have the authority to decide the case, he may not have won the same fan club with his cautionary language to the government. If federal investigators “choose to move forward with the review of the Petitioners’ potentially privileged material at this time, they do so at their own legal peril,” Leon wrote. And “they must be prepared to — at a later time, and in a forum to be determined — justify whatever procedures they put in place.” But Leon doesn’t have the final word on this question. Every judge on the court with Guant�namo petitions has been asked to rule on this motion, and all but Judges Gladys Kessler, Ellen Huvelle, and Reggie Walton have already handed the issue over to Judge James Robertson, who has yet to rule.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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