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15 December 2006

Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw files amicus brief in al-Marri v. Wright on behalf of former senior Justice Department officials, including former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP

15 December 2006 - Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP attorneys James Schroeder, Gary and Isaac filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit in Al-Marri v. Wright on behalf of eight former Justice Department officials, including former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Mayer, Brown senior counsel and former U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Philip Lacovara, advocating against the government's indefinite detention of terrorism suspects arrested and held in the United States. Amici also include former U.S. Attorneys W. Thomas Dillard and Anton R. Valukas, both of whom served under President Reagan.

Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a Qatara national, was a legal alien when he was arrested at his home in Peoria, Illinois in December 2001 and indicted on federal criminal charges. Shortly before his criminal trial was scheduled to begin in 2003, and right after his lawyers filed a motion to suppress evidence allegedly obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government designated al-Marri as an "enemy combatant," dismissing all the criminal charges against him with prejudice. Since then, al-Marri has been held in a military prison in South Carolina without charge and without any indication of when his detention will end.

In their brief, amici expressed grave concern about the government's decision to hold al-Marri indefinitely as an "enemy combatant" rather than prosecuting him criminally. Providing a list of successful criminal prosecutions of suspected terrorists, amici argued that "the existing criminal justice system is more than up to the task of prosecuting and bringing to justice those who plan or attempt acts within in the United States-without sacrificing any of the rights and protections that have been the hallmarks of the American legal system for more than 200 years." Amici also contended that, contrary to the government's claims, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 does not strip al-Marri of his right to challenge his indefinite detention in court.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here. News articles on the brief can be accessed by clicking on the following links: Washington Post, Bloomberg News and Seattle Times.

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