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Litigants ask court to save state secrets rulings

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  1. Court Access
A group of plaintiffs on Friday asked a judge to deny the government's request to vacate his rulings in a…

A group of plaintiffs on Friday asked a judge to deny the government’s request to vacate his rulings in a recently-settled state secrets case, The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times reported.

The $3 million settlement in Horn v. Huddle – in which a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent claimed a CIA officer and a State Department official intercepted his communications while he was serving in Burma – was revealed last week in court papers. In July, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that CIA officials committed fraud in defending the case.

In light of the settlement, government lawyers asked Lamberth to vacate his rulings in the case. According to The BLT, the rulings “deal with whether a federal district judge may decline, in a state secrets case, to give a high degree of deference to the government’s assertion of the privilege when the government is accused of making misrepresentations to the court; and whether a judge can determine that lawyers in a state secrets case have a ‘need to know’ certain confidential information.”

The state secrets privilege allows courts to dismiss lawsuits where the government shows that allowing the case to go forward could reveal state secrets. On Sept. 23, Attorney General Eric Holder announced new procedures that would, he said, “provide greater accountability and ensure the state secrets privilege is invoked only when necessary and in the narrowest way possible.”