Judical Review of Indefinate Detention Padilla v Assessment

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¶ … Judical Review of Indefinate Detention

Padilla v. Rumsfeld and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld

Terror Trials: Seeking Meaningful Judicial Review of Indefinite Detention

Terror Trials: Seeking Meaningful Judicial Review of Indefinite Detention

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld et al.: Facts and Issues


In the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001 Congress authorized the President to use all necessary means to prevent future terrorist attacks on the United States, including the use of force against individuals, organizations, or nations responsible for the September 11 attacks or who aided those involved in the attacks (Hamdi III, 2004). This Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF, 115 Stat. 224) gave President Bush the authority to go to war in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

During military operations in Afghanistan, Yaser Esam Hamdi was captured in the fall of 2001 and transferred the following January to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba (Beattie and Stevens, 2003). While there, it was discovered that Hamdi had been born in Louisiana and probably had not renounced his American citizenship. Accordingly, he was transferred to the Naval Brig at Norfolk Naval Base the following April. The United States then gave Hamdi the status of enemy combatant in order to detain him indefinitely and incommunicado for the further interrogations.

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Assessment on Judical Review of Indefinate Detention Padilla v. Assignment

The issues that were initially raised by Hamdi's father on Hamdi's behalf were his right to judicial review and private meetings with counsel (Beattie and Stevens, 2003). The petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleged that the U.S. government's detention of Hamdi is unconstitutional under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments because he has not been charged, has not appeared before an impartial decision-maker, or been assigned counsel (Hamdi III, 2004). In addition, the petition requested that the court order the Government to cease interrogations until Hamdi has received the assistance of counsel. In opposition, the Government contended that Hamdi's status as an enemy combatant allows the Government to detain him indefinitely without charges or formal proceedings.

Padilla v. Rumsfeld et al.: Facts and Issues


On May 8, 2002, Jose Padilla, an American Citizen, was arrested in Chicago, Illinois as a material witness as he arrived on a flight from Pakistan via Switzerland (Padilla v. Rumsfeld, 2003). The FBI transported Padilla to New York City to appear in front of a grand jury investigating the attacks of September 11. While there Padilla was held in a civilian detention facility and provided counsel for his upcoming appearance. On May 22, the counsel for Padilla moved to have the material witness warrant vacated before the District Court of the Southern District of New York. The motion was scheduled to be heard on June 11, but on June 9 federal agents acting on Padilla's new designation as an enemy combatant took custody of Padilla and transported him to South Carolina where he was detained in the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. The District Court vacated the material witness warrant and in response his counsel, Donna R. Newman, filed a writ of habeas corpus on Padilla's behalf.

For the next 18 months Padilla was held incommunicado in the Naval Brig (Padilla v. Rumsfeld, 2003). The authority for this detention came from the President of the United States, who declared that Padilla was an enemy combatant at the time he entered the United States on May 8, 2002. This designation was based on reliable information that Padilla was a close associate of known Al Qaeda leaders, had planned to attack the United States, had information that could help the United States prevent future terrorist attacks, and represented a grave threat to national security. More specifically, the government alleged that Padilla was involved in a plot to detonate a dirty bomb within the United States on behalf of Al Qaeda and had been in Pakistan to receive explosives training.


The issues before the District Court was whether it had jurisdiction to hear the habeas petition, whether Padilla's counsel had standing, and whether Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was properly the respondent (Padilla v. Rumsfeld, 2003). The government's case rested on their contention that enemy combatant status gave the military jurisdiction, not the civilian courts. Counsel for Padilla contended that the President could not indefinitely detain an American citizen who was arrested on American soil without filing formal charges. Padilla's counsel also claimed that Padilla should never have been transferred to military custody and properly belonged in the federal criminal justice system.

Holdings for Hamdi and Padilla

The district courts that received the two habeas petitions under 28 U.S.C. §2241 on behalf of Hamdi and Padilla were the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of New York, respectively (Beattie and Stevens, 2003). The appellate courts that handled these cases were therefore the 4th and 2nd Circuits, respectively. Needless to say, these courts differed in how they viewed the various issues brought before them. In essence, both cases were about prisoner advocates seeking meaningful judicial review of their detention and the government claiming enemy combatant status precluded such review.

Next Friend Status

The District Court handling the habeas petitions for Hamdi received several writs from different individuals on behalf of the prisoner (U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, n.d.). The first writ was filed by a Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Virginia, Frank Dunham, on May 10, 2002 as Hamid's 'next friend.' On May 23, 2002, a private citizen from New Jersey, Christian Peregrim, filed the next writ. The District Court reviewed both writs simultaneously and ordered the military to give a Federal Public Defender unmonitored access to Hamdi on May 29 and that this access must occur no later than June 1st. The District Court cited Storti v. Massachusetts (1901) when it concluded that technical issues regarding who should be given 'next friend' status should not interfere with the public's interest in seeing that justice is done (Hamdi I, 2002).

On May 31st, the military filed a motion to stay the order with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (U.S. District Court Easter District of Virginia, n.d.). The Court agreed and scheduled a hearing for June 4th. The Fourth Circuit held the hearing on June 4, 2002 and worked its way through the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Whitmore v. Arkansas (1990) (Hamdi I, 2002). The 4th Circuit concluded that Hamdi met the first test that the prisoner is in fact being detained in a manner that renders him inaccessible to the courts. Therefore someone could act on Hamdi's behalf to seek judicial relief, as long as they met the next test of having a significant relationship with the prisoner. Both Dunham and Peregrim admitted that they do not have a significant relationship with the prisoner, but only an interest in the prisoner's right to judicial review. The court did not dispute the good intentions of the petitioners, but it held that in the absence of a significant relationship neither petitioner could be granted standing. This rule, according to the 4th Circuit, provides a mechanism for preventing troublemakers from claiming next friend status willy-nilly and clogging up the courts, including public defenders seeking to associate themselves with a high-profile case.

The 4th Circuit then discussed the limits for standing under Article III (Hamdi I, 2002). Citing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Schlesinger v. Reservists Committee to Stop the War (1974), the 4th Circuit concluded that even citizens with a legitimate concern about government adherence to the Constitution cannot attain Article III standing. The 4th Circuit admitted that there does have to be some avenue for Hamdi to seek judicial review of his detention and if Hamdi's father had not also filed a habeas petition it may have come to a different conclusion. However, since the habeas petition filed by Hamdi's father is pending and the 4th Circuit would grant Hamdi's father next friend standing without reservation, the Court saw no reason to spend any additional time considering the motion to grant next friend standing to either Dunham or Peregrim. For these reasons, the 4th Circuit reversed the District Court's decision to grant next friend standing to Dunham and remanded their petitions to be dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction.

In contrast, Padilla had already obtained counsel while being detained in a civilian jail in New York City (Padilla ex rel. Newman v. Bush, 2002). Although the government challenged Newman's standing as next friend to Padilla, the District Court of the Southern District of New York had in fact appointed her to represent Padilla during the grand jury proceedings. She had already met with Padilla several times and filed a motion to vacate the material witness warrant and was therefore obviously acting on Padilla's wishes. In addition, Newman has continued to look after Padilla's interests when she filed a writ for habeas corpus challenging the lawfulness of Padilla's military detention and his designation as enemy combatant. For these reasons, the District Court rejected the government's… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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