IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Al-Oshan v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-0520 (RMU)
Tumani v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-0526 (RMU)
Sohail v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-0993 (RMU)
Al Karim v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-0998 (RMU)
Al-Hela v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-1048 (RMU)
Zalita v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-1220 (RMU)
Hatim v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-1429 (RMU)
Kiyemba v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-1509 (RMU)
Rabbani v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-1607 (RMU)
Alkhemisi v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-1983 (RMU)
Al-Halmandy v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-2385 (RMU)
Al-Delebany v. Bush ) Case No. 05-CV-2477 (RMU)
Naseer v. Bush ) Case No. 06-CV-1689 (RMU)
Al-Zarnouqi v. Bush ) Case No. 06-CV-1767 (RMU)
OPPOSITIONS TO MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION
On April 19, 2007, respondents in these cases moved to dismiss on the basis of binding
circuit caselaw under which this Court lacks jurisdiction over this proceeding. By decision
issued on September 20, 2007, and judgment order entered the next day, the motion was granted
Case 1:05-cv-01429-UNA Document 94 Filed 10/04/2007 Page 1 of 7
1 Curiously, petitioners in Kiyemba v. Bush did not file an opposition to respondents’
Motion to Dismiss. The reconsideration motion filed in that case would seem to be subject to
denial for that reason alone.
and these cases dismissed. Now petitioners seek to have these cases reinstated.1 Most of what
petitioners say has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether this Court should undo its
action in dismissing these cases. The balance of their argument is simply wrong.
As this Court recognized in issuing its ruling dismissing these cases, the Court of
Appeals for this Circuit has ruled that cases such as these – petitions for writs of habeas corpus
filed on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees – are outside the jurisdiction of this Court.
Boumediene v. Bush, 476 F.3d 981 (D.C. Cir. 2007), cert. granted, 127 S. Ct. 3078 (June 29,
2007). Although the Supreme Court has decided to review Boumediene, the rule announced in
that case constitutes binding circuit precedent. See, e.g., Maxwell v. Snow, 409 F.3d 354, 358
(D.C. Cir. 2005) (“this Court is bound to follow circuit precedent until it is overruled either by
an en banc court or the Supreme Court”). Therefore, this Court’s decision to rule in accordance
with that case was not erroneous. Having decided to resolve respondents’ Motion to Dismiss,
the Court had no choice but to rule as it did.
1. Petitioners’ motion does not directly take issue with the proposition that the decision
in Boumediene binds this Court. The closest that the motion comes to suggesting that this Court
actually does currently have jurisdiction over this case is to quote from an outdated 2006 opinion
in Kiyemba v. Bush, C.A. No. 05-1509, in which this Court noted that the jurisdictional question
had not yet been resolved by the Court of Appeals. Petitioners’ citation to that decision for that
proposition is misplaced.
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2 Petitioners’ citation to the 2006 Kiyemba opinion of this Court is erroneous in another
respect as well: the motion papers of many of the petitioners mischaracterize that decision as
having constituted a recall of a mandate by the Court of Appeals.
3 The al Hela and Hatim petitioners’ citation to a recent decision by Judge Kessler in
Ruzathullah v. Gates, Civ. No. 06-1707 for the proposition that Boumediene is not quite final in
some sense should be seen as unavailing. Judge Kessler relied in this regard on the fact that the
Court of Appeals withdrew its mandate in Boumediene and that the Supreme Court decided to
review that decision. But those facts are irrelevant to the binding nature of the Boumediene
decision as precedent in these cases as long as that decision remains on the books. See Ayuda,
Inc. v. Thornburgh, 919 F.2d 153, 154 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (Henderson, J., concurring). And, the
opinion in Deering Milliken, Inc. v. FTC, 647 F.2d 1124, 1129 (D.C. Cir. 1978), the case cited in
the snippet of Judge Kessler’s opinion quoted by petitioners in this connection, makes the
following point: “It is well established that the District Court is without jurisdiction to alter a
judgment of its own while an appeal therefrom is ongoing. But it is equally clear that the vitality
of that judgment is undiminished by pendancy [sic] of the appeal.” Id. at 1128-29. Thus, a
Court of Appeals decision that has not been vacated or reversed by the court en banc or by the
Supreme Court is binding precedentially; a district court judgment that has not been stayed is
effective; and the absence of a mandate following an appellate decision could have an impact in
the particular case in which the decision was issued, but does not diminish the obligation of the
district court in the circuit in which it was issued to follow that decision.
Although the jurisdictional issue had not yet been resolved by the D.C. Circuit in 2006
when the Kiyemba opinion was issued, that is no longer the case.2 In Boumediene, that court
announced its ruling on that very issue, which it resolved in favor of the government. In fact,
that is the very reason that this Court gave for its decision to dismiss these cases. And although
the Supreme Court has decided to review the Court of Appeals’ decision – as this Court was
aware when it decided to dismiss these cases on the strength of the D.C. Circuit’s Boumediene
decision, see, e.g., Further Notice of Activity in Guantanamo Cases, filed on July 2, 2007, in al
Hela v. Bush, 05-1048, Dkt. No. 98) – this Court was absolutely correct in recognizing that
Boumediene remains binding law in this Circuit, unless and until such time as the Supreme Court
might vacate or reverse that decision.3
2. Rather than directly contesting this Court’s manifestly correct understanding of the
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4 In several of these cases, petitioners do not argue that this Court lacks jurisdiction
because of a pending appeal in those cases (presumably because they recognize that they cannot
point to an appeal on which to base such an argument). Footnote 3 of the brief filed by several
petitioners states that this Court dismissed one of those cases, Zalita v. Bush, 05-cv-1220, on
April 25, 2007, upon receiving a mandate from the Court of Appeals. No such dismissal
occurred. This case was dismissed along with the others, by means of the decision issued on
September 20, 2007, and the judgment order entered the next day.
law of this Circuit, petitioners4 contend that the Court did not have jurisdiction to consider
respondents’ Motion to Dismiss in the first place, and that the Court of Appeals had instructed
this Court not to rule on that motion in any event. Petitioners are wrong on both counts.
a. Petitioners’ argument concerning the Court’s authority to consider the Motion
to Dismiss starts from the unobjectionable proposition that the filing of a notice of appeal in a
district court generally divests the district court of jurisdiction to consider the matter from which
the appeal is taken. Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982).
Because an appeal was taken from an interlocutory order during the course of this litigation,
petitioners would apply the Griggs rule out of context to mean that the Court cannot address the
merits of these cases.
The rule discussed in Griggs “has several qualifications, however, perhaps the foremost
of which is that an appeal taken from an interlocutory decision does not prevent the district court
from finishing its work and rendering a final decision. This is so for appeals concerning
preliminary injunctions.” Wisconsin Mut. Ins. Co. v. United States, 441 F.3d 502, 504 (7th Cir.
2006). That qualification of the Griggs rule is well settled. See, e.g., Webb v. GAF Corp., 78
F.3d 53, 55 (2d Cir.1996) (per curiam) (same); New York State Nat’l Org. for Women v. Terry,
886 F.2d 1339, 1350 (2d Cir.1989) (same); Taylor v. Sterrett, 640 F.2d 663, 668 (5th Cir. 1981)
(“where an appeal is allowed from an interlocutory order, the district court may still proceed
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5 See Chart attached as Exhibit A (listing relevant aspects of the appellate histories of the
various cases included in this Court’s September 20 dismissal order).
6 For context, two orders entered by the Court of Appeals in Al Ginco on June 7, 2007,
are included in Exhibit B. Petitioners in al Hela and Hatim argue that their position is supported
by a comment made concerning the cited Al Ginco order in a recent decision by Judge Kessler in
Ruzathullah v. Gates. According to Judge Kessler, the Court of Appeals decided not to vacate
with matters not involved in the appeal. 9 Moore’s Federal Practice, supra, at 3-54 (2d ed.
The only appeals that were taken in these cases were interlocutory appeals from
injunctive orders relating to planned or possible transfers of the detainees involved (and, in one
case, to a stay).5 They were not appeals from final judgments, or from any rulings on the merits
of petitioners’ claims. Therefore, petitioners can point to no notice of appeal that has divested
this Court of jurisdiction to consider the dismissibility of these cases.
b. According to petitioners, the Court of Appeals instructed this Court to refrain
from dismissing these cases. Petitioners are wrong. The various orders that they cite in this
connection do not say any such thing. The Court of Appeals has indicated that it would defer a
decision as to how to proceed on certain appeals in Guantanamo Bay detainee cases until the
Supreme Court rules in Boumediene. See, e.g., Abdah v. Bush, No. 05-5224 (order entered on
August 7, 2007, attached as Exhibit H to Motion to Reconsider and Vacate in Rabbani v. Bush,
No. 05-1607). But it did not impose on this Court any particular approach to the docket-control
question of whether to wait for a Supreme Court decision in Boumediene before ruling on
respondents’ Motion to Dismiss. As the Court of Appeals noted in its order of June 7, 2007 in Al
Ginco v. Bush, No. 06-5191, attached as Exhibit B, “[t]he district court may consider in the first
instance respondents’ motion to dismiss.”6 Thus, petitioners’ position that dismissal could not be
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pre-transfer notice orders that were on appeal, somehow suggesting that the orders were not
jurisdictionally suspect. But the very point of the Court of Appeals’ order in Al Ginco was that it
was up to the District Court to resolve the issues by ruling on respondents’ dismissal motion (as
the Court has done here). Such a dismissal would, of course, render an appeal of the notice
orders functionally moot, as we demonstrate here. Indeed, the fact that the Court of Appeals
views notice orders to be jurisdictionally inappropriate is demonstrated by that court’s denial of
relief with regard to a potential transfer in See Hamlily v. Gates, 07-1127 (D.C. Cir.) (attached as
Exhibit C), as well as in Zalita v. Bush, No. 07-5129 (attached as Exhibit D). The Supreme
Court also denied a motion for such relief in Zalita, No. 06A1005 (attached as Exhibit E).
7 Of course, petitioners’ counsel explicitly agreed, as a condition for access to such
information, that the Protective Order’s non-disclosure requirements would survive termination
of the litigation and remain forever binding. See 344 F. Supp. 2d 174, ¶ 17 & Exhibit B thereto
(for access to classified information, counsel required to sign Memorandum of Understanding
that nondisclosure requirements survive litigation); id. ¶ 35 & Exhibit C thereto (for access to
protected information, counsel required to sign Acknowledgment that nondisclosure
requirements survive litigation).
effected by this Court because of activity in the Court of Appeals is simply incorrect.
3. The basic purpose of the various motions filed to challenge this Court’s dismissal
orders, stated explicitly in some instances but at least implicit in all of the motions, appears to be
to retain the effectiveness of the interlocutory protective order entered in these various cases.
But asking a court to reinstate a case that is jurisdictionally defective for the purpose of
resurrecting an order that does not resolve the merits of the case should be seen for what it is:
circular and unwarranted. An order entered on an interlocutory basis during the pendency of a
case does not survive dismissal of the case. See Venezia v. Robinson, 16 F.3d 209, 211 (7th Cir.
1994). Particularly here, where petitioners may file – and in several instances, have filed – a
petition for relief in the Court of Appeals pursuant to the Detainee Treatment Act, and obtain the
benefits of a protective order to replace the one that was effectively vacated by this Court’s
dismissal of these cases,7 predicating a request for reinstatement of these cases on an interest in
this Court’s protective order would be inappropriate.
Case 1:05-cv-01429-UNA Document 94 Filed 10/04/2007 Page 6 of 7
For the reasons discussed above, petitioners’ recently filed motions which, although
styled differently, all seek reconsideration of this Court’s dismissal of these cases, should be
Dated: October 4, 2007 Respectfully submitted,
PETER D. KEISLER
Assistant Attorney General
DOUGLAS N. LETTER
Terrorism Litigation Counsel
/s/ Andrew I. Warden
JOSEPH H. HUNT (D.C. Bar No. 431134)
VINCENT M. GARVEY (D.C. Bar No. 127191)
JUDRY L. SUBAR (D.C. Bar 347518)
TERRY M. HENRY
JAMES J. SCHWARTZ
ROBERT J. KATERBERG
ANDREW I. WARDEN (IN Bar No. 23840-49)
NICHOLAS A. OLDHAM
JAMES C. LUH
United States Department of Justice
Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch
20 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
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