Thursday, October 2, 2008
Doe v. Bin Ladin
How would you like to be Osama Bin Ladin's attorney?
It screams out: insert lawyer joke here. How about this:
Q: What is the billing rate for Osama Bin Ladin's lawyer?
A: 72 virgins per hour.
Only, the case called Doe v. Bin Ladin is deadly serious. It is also another reminder that federal courts are a great, and often underutilized, reporting resource.
Pick a favorite federal court and check its opinions daily. The ever-busy U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is particularly fruitful at http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/. Often, the case names shout: story potential. Doe v. Bin Ladin, for instance: kind of has a ring to it, no?
In a 13-page opinion posted late-ish Wednesday, https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2001cv2516-48, U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts rejected Afghanistan's request to have the lawsuit dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds. The case was filed by a man whose wife died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He claims Afghanistan, while under Taliban rule, was a co-conspirator in the attacks. Afghanistan's representatives were properly served with the suit, Judge Roberts notes. Mr. Bin Ladin, presumably, was not.
Insert process-serving jokes here.
Roberts' opinion delves into Afghanistan's sovereign immunity arguments and why they do not hold water, at least yet; the next step will be limited discovery.
Insert Bin Ladin deposition jokes here.