The plaintiff in this action brought suit against former Attorney General John Ashcroft and several other federal officials in their individual and official capacities, claiming that he was unlawfully detained and his freedom was otherwise infringed by the federal government.
On March 16, 2003, the plaintiff, Al-Kidd, was arrested and detained as a material witness in a terrorism case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. The underlying case was against another person, for visa fraud and false statements to U.S. Officials. Al-Kidd was held for 15 days in several different detention centers and treated as a terrorist suspect. On March 31, 2003, the Court ordered the plaintiff released on the condition that he live with his wife at her parents' home in Nevada. The Court confiscated his passport, barred him from applying for a new one and limited his travel to four states. He was required to report to probation officers and subjected to home visits. The plaintiff's material witness warrant was only dismissed 15 months later, when the defendant in the terrorist trial was acquitted of all major charges.
In a complaint filed in the District of Idaho on March 14, 2005, the plaintiff alleged that his treatment was part of a policy of the United States government in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 to use the federal material witness statute in an unlawful manner. The plaintiff stated that individuals were arrested on material witness warrants without probable cause that they had information germane to a criminal proceeding, and were unnecessarily detained for long periods of time in poor conditions. The material witness statute was used to hold suspected terrorists when the government had not established probable cause to arrest the individual for a crime. The plaintiff claimed that his treatment violated the Bail Reform Act (18 U.S.C. § 3144), the Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution, and constituted unlawful arrest and detention under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff sought declaratory relief, expungement of all records relating to his unlawful arrest, and compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiff was represented by private counsel and the ACLU.
On January 23, 2006, the defendants filed three separate motions to dismiss. In his motion to dismiss, the Alexandria, Virginia, sheriff responsible for the plaintiff while in custody at the Alexandria Detention Center, alleged lack of personal jurisdiction in the Idaho District Court. On July 19, 2006, the claims against the sheriff were severed and transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia and his motion was subsequently denied as moot. The United States filed a motion to dismiss that was denied except as to the plaintiff's claim of false imprisonment based upon the delay in his transfer. The court found there was no basis for the false imprisonment claim because the plaintiff was arrested pursuant to a lawfully issued material witness warrant and because constitutional claims are not cognizable under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the former warden of the Oklahoma Federal Transfer Center, and several FBI agents (known collectively as the "Federal Defendants") filed a separate motion to dismiss. The Federal Defendants argued that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over Ashcroft and the warden, that Ashcroft was entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity as to plaintiff's arrest under the material witness warrant, that the Federal Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity, and that there was no private right of action under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3142 and 3144. The District Court of Idaho (Judge Edward J. Lodge) denied this motion to dismiss.
On November 27, 2006, John Ashcroft appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss. Ashcroft argued that he was entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity as to the §3144 and Fourth Amendment claims and that he was entitled to qualified immunity from liability from all three claims. In a September 4, 2009, opinion, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the District of Idaho's ruling. The Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling as to the plaintiff's Conditions of Confinement claim, holding that the plaintiff had not alleged adequate facts to render plausible Ashcroft's personal involvement in setting the harsh conditions of his confinement. On all other claims the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court order denying Ashcroft's motion to dismiss. 580 F.3d 949 (9th Cir. 2009)
The U.S. Supreme Court then granted certiorari and, in a May 31, 2011, opinion written by Justice Scalia, reversed. The Supreme Court found that the Ninth Circuit erred in considering Attorney General Ashcroft's subjective intent for detaining Al-Kidd under the material witness statute. The Supreme Court held that Ashcroft had not violated clearly established law and thus was entitled to qualified immunity. The case was remanded to the Ninth Circuit for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court decision. 131 S.Ct. 2074.
On remand, on August 3, 2011, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of Ashcroft's motion to dismiss and remanded the matter to the district court for proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court's Opinion. Al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 653 F.3d 982 (9th Cir. 2011).
On remand, both the plaintiff and the two FBI agent moved for summary judgment. On June 18, 2012, Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams of the District of Idaho issued a report and recommendation on the cross motions for summary judgment. Judge Williams recommended that the plaintiff's motion be granted with respect to the first FBI agent and that the defendant's motion be denied. With respect to the second FBI agent, Judge Williams concluded that additional factual review need to occur before he could decide if the second FBI agent was not entitled to qualified immunity. Al-Kidd v. Gonzales, No. 1:05-CV-00093-EJL, 2012 WL 4470852 (D. Idaho June 18, 2012).
The plaintiff and the US also cross-moved for summary judgment on the claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. On June 26, 2012, Judge Williams issued a report and recommendation that the plaintiff's motion be granted in part and denied in part. Judge Williams granted the motion for his false imprisonment claims, but denied the motion for his abuse of process claim. Judge Williams denied the US's motion completely. Al-Kidd v. Gonzales, No. 1:05-CV-00093-EJL, 2012 WL 4470860 (D. Idaho June 26, 2012).
On September 27, 2012, District Judge Edward Lopez reviewed Judge Williams's report and recommendations for the claims against the two FBI agents. Judge Lopez granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to the first FBI agent, but denied the plaintiff's motion as to the second FBI agent. Judge Lopez granted the second FBI agent's motion for summary judgment. Al-Kidd v. Gonzales, No. 1:05-CV-093-EJL-MHW, 2012 WL 4470776 (D. Idaho Sept. 27, 2012). Judge Lopez also reviewed Judge Williams's report and recommendations for the claim against the U.S. Judge Lopez affirmed Judge Williams's recommendation, granting in part and denying in part the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denying the defendant's motion for summary judgment. Al-Kidd v. Gonzales, No. 1:05-CV-093-EJL-MHW, 2012 WL 4470782, at *6 (D. Idaho Sept. 27, 2012).
The first FBI agent appealed the denial of qualified immunity. However, the parties reached a settlement agreement on December 30, 2014. On January 6, 2015, the parties entered a joint motion to dismiss the appeal. On January 13, 2015, the parties a entered a joint motion to dismiss all remaining claims and stipulated that the court would retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The agreement itself was not shared with the court. According to an ACLU press release, the government agreed to pay Al-Kidd $385,000. David Priddy - 09/28/2011
Jessica Kincaid - 02/19/2015