No Surprise from the Jefferson Judge
The Justice Department was appropriately subdued Monday afternoon after learning that a federal trial judge had ruled in its favor and against Rep. William Jefferson's (D-La.) in the fight over a search of the politician's Congressional offices. The feds said that they would wait for the inevitable appeal before pouring over the evidence again and that they would continue to work with Congress to come up with a procedure that avoids this sort of a mess in the future.
The reason that caution is smart is because the judge who issued the ruling was the same judge who initially approved the search warrant that permitted the feds to sweep into Rep. Jefferson's office in the first place. Chief District Judge Thomas F. Hogan would have turned himself into a legal laughingstock had he effectively overruled himself and declared the fruits of that search off-limits. The real battle in this case, as all sides understand, will take place on appeal. And that means we are still several chapters away from any sort of legal conclusion to this tale of the war between two of the three branches of government.
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