Report from MyFoxDC
Reprinted from Fox 5 - DC
WASHINGTON - A Federal Magistrate Judge has been given permission to expand his probe into missing evidence in a long-running D.C. Court case.
Judge John Facciola has been trying to learn what happened to a key document called a "running resume" as well as audio and video tapes recorded by D.C. Police during the mass arrests in Pershing Park in September, 2002.
For years, lawyers for the plaintiffs have been asking city attorneys for the evidence, but it has never turned up. They suspect it was deliberately destroyed.
On September 27, 2002, D.C. Police arrested as many as 400 people in Pershing Park. Many of them were protesting the policies of the World Bank and vowed to shut the city down.
Leading up to and after the arrests, officers in a command post were documenting everything, recording it all in the "running resume."
The document is standard procedure. But when lawyers like Carl Messineo with the Partnership for Civil Justice started looking into the constitutionality of the arrests and asked for the document, it was nowhere to be found.
Frustrated with the mystery, the Federal Judge assigned to the case, Emmet Sullivan, tapped Magistrate Judge John Facciola to conduct an investigation. Since early October, Judge Facciola has called as many as 20 witnesses into his courtroom in hopes of learning what happened to the evidence in the case. Testimony that has raised new questions about the truthfulness of affidavits and statements written by city attorneys.
Conflicting statements convinced the judge he needed to look closer into the possibility city attorneys were, in the judge's words, behind the "Solicitation, preparation, and submission of false testimony/affidavits (as well as) misleading statements by District Counsel.”
As a Special Master, the judge asked the Attorney General as well as the attorneys for the plaintiffs what they thought.
Attorney General Peter Nickles told the court the new probe would be "improper."
In a written brief to the court Nickles said, "It is critical that the Special Master's investigation not be a 'hunt' throughout an entire department for potential wrongdoing.”
But the attorneys representing some of the people arrested in the park that day told the court, "It has become increasingly clear that District Counsel's actions, when combined with failed (D.C. Police) leadership on these issues, were the driving forces behind the destruction and spoliation of evidence in this litigation.”
On Wednesday, Judge Sullivan told Judge Facciola he had permission to expand the probe.