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Civil Liberties and National Security Clinic

Mike Wishnie and Lee Gelernt

This clinic seminar has ended but students continue to handle two matters that have not concluded, together with co-counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

In one matter, the clinic represents Abdullah al-Kidd, a young man wrongfully arrested as a material witness in a post-September 11 investigation of a Muslim charitable organization. Claims against one defendant reached the Supreme Court in 2011. Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 131 S.Ct. 2074 (2011) (holding former Attorney General immune from liability for alleged false arrest of material witness but indicating limitations on circumstances in which government may arrest or detain witness). Subsequently, the U.S. District Court disposed of summary judgment motions against the remaining defendants, granting judgment to Mr. al-Kidd on some claims, dismissing others, and directing that the rest proceed to trial. Al-Kidd v. Gonzales, 2012 WL 4470776 (D.Idaho Sept. 27, 2012) (granting summary judgment to plaintiff on Bivens Fourth Amendment claim against FBI agent that arrested plaintiff as material witness and dismissing claims against second FBI agent); Al-Kidd v. United States, 2012 WL 4470782 (D.Idaho Sept. 27, 2012) (granting summary judgment to plaintiff on FTCA false arrest claim and denying cross-motions for summary judgment as to FTCA abuse of process claim).

In a second matter, the clinic is litigating claims under the Freedom of Information Act related to certain law enforcement databases that were used in the investigation and arrest of Mr. al-Kidd. American Civil Liberties Union of Washington v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, No. C09-0642RSL (W.D.Wash.).