Just before the criminal trial against the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation began last week in U.S. district court in Dallas, an en banc 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that hampers a group of plaintiffs from collecting a $116 million civil default judgment from the Richardson, Texas-based charity.

The July 18 unanimous decision in United States v. Holy Land Foundation, et al. vacated a prior 5th Circuit three-judge panel opinion that sided with the appellants, the executor for the estates of a husband and wife who were killed in a terrorist attack in Israel and others. The full court overruled a 21-year-old 5th Circuit precedent, United States v. Thier, which was the basis of the earlier panel’s April 4, 2006, decision.

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