Aug 14, 2007

More Legal News

The first of three items is this story from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Five journalists -- Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman of Newsweek; Allen Lengel of The Washington Post; Toni Locy, formerly of USA Today; and James Swart, formerly of CBS News -- now risk being held in contempt of court if they refuse to comply with the judge's order.

Walton called Hatfill's case "strikingly similar" to that of Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos nuclear scientist investigated for espionage in 1999.

Like Hatfill, Lee brought a claim against the government under the Privacy Act and subpoenaed journalists to find out who in the government had leaked them information. The journalists in the Lee case were held in contempt of court and heavy daily fines were assessed against them by the judge, though the fines were stayed while the reporters appealed. Lee eventually agreed to settle his claim, and in an unprecedented arrangement, the media companies that employed the journalists agreed to contribute money to the settlement.

In the Hatfill decision Monday, Walton refused to recognize a federal common law privilege for journalists to decline to reveal their sources.

Walton said doing so "would erect a potentially insurmountable hurdle for a Privacy Act litigant seeking to hold the government accountable for leaks condemned by the Act."

The next item isn't new but its also related to a constitutional amendment. This 2003 GAO briefing for Congressman Markey titled DOE Reimbursement of Contractor Litigation Costs discusses the assertion of immunity under the Eleventh Amendment:
  • A state university that is sued in the course of its operation of a DOE facility may be entitled to assert immunity under the Eleventh Amendment and other immunity-related defenses, such as being exempt from punitive damages under state law. (3) Whether a particular state university is entitled to assert such defenses depends on whether it qualifies as a state entity, which in turn depends on a variety of factors, such as whether the state is liable for judgments against the university, the nature of the functions the university is performing, and whether the university is a separate incorporated entity.
  • The University of California is the only DOE contractor to use immunity as a defense. Officials at the university, which operates three DOE facilities—Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory—estimated that the university used Eleventh Amendment immunity in 8 of about 35 federal cases in 5-1/2 years. Also, officials at the University of California estimated that the university, in its role as a DOE contractor, has asserted other immunity-related defenses in at least 62 of about 137 cases, predominantly to defend against punitive damages.
And the last item is an email forwarded by Pat the Dog of LANL: The Corporate Story fame.

Is the blog alive? Today was my first attempt to visit it, so I'm a novice at this sort of thing. I have the inside scoop on pending litigation that would be blog-worthy, regarding the inability of upper Laboratory Management to make a decision about a hiring action due to a near-relative concern. It's been 9 months, and still no answer. Yes or no, is it so hard? It's a wonderful case study of institutional paralysis. The employee's promotion hasn't been declined, just thrown in the swamp to decompose and create more bureaucratic stench... Sincerely, Anonymous


Anonymous said...

The University of California is a national disgrace to be pretnding to be a champion of free speech and openness, yet fighting tooth and nail at every turn to avoid accountability and suppress the release of informationThat's why so much is wasted on litigation. In the mean time UC, once upon a time the premier research university in the world (like LANL) is no more (like LANL as well). It is now a shadow of its former self, as is the Los Alamos National Laboratory. What an enormous waste of taxpayer money! How much of a waste? Try getting the University to release its litigation costs for public scrutiny. Try finding out how much the UC Labs waste each year on litigation. It's your money bozo, but just try to find out and see where that gets you.

Anonymous said...


You can say what you want about UC, however it is still the premier research
university system in the world. If anything this is becoming more so.

By the way UC really does not use that much of "your tax dollar". They now get a tremendous amount of money from industry and private donations. You should try thinking before making dumb comments.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you have to be paying CA taxes to support UC directly? (Not talking fed research $.)

Anonymous said...

really? that does not really match the uc budget information available on line.

remove the returns between lines

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed in 2:55pm's comment in that they did not pull in the Bush/Cheney/corporatization plot into this somehow.

Anonymous said...


That money comes from peer reviewed grants. If the UC system was so bad why would all these external review people give their approval? You seem a bit dim.

Anonymous said...

Mea culpa for teh dimness.

I thought that peer reviewed grants were "your tax dollar[s]."

Thank you, 8:26, for correcting me. I now understand that peer reviewed grants are from "industry and private donations."

(That was sarcasm. I am not sure how you could read my citation of the UC budget, which showed that private sources of funding are small, to instead mean that federal research grants are a signal that UC is poorly regarded. Perhaps you were thinking of yourself when you accidentally called me "dim").

Anonymous said...

UC might have been a great institution once, but not anymore. If it is so awash with money, why is it always clamoring for more money from the State? Why is tuition always being cranked up? Why were all these secret compensation packages being hidden from public view? Why were there so many payoffs being hidden from public view? Why all the lawsuits? Why all the resistence to public record requests and public disclosure? Why did Dynes hire a worthless Director (Nanos) to drag the Los Alamos National Lab through the mud? Where exactly is all this greatness some of you are still foolishly trying to claim exists at UC? I don't see it, and live a lot closer to the subject than you do. I live in California. I also read a lot more news accounts on what's going on within the University system than you all could possibly ever know about or read, located states removed. Sorry for the bad news folks, but UC isn't as prestine these days as some might still want you to believe.

Anonymous said...


You sound like one sad dude.

Anonymous said...

Yep 9:18...

Ever since UC lost you as an employee, it's been downhillllll

Life is complex, managing 100,000 cats is going to involve cat poo.

Even the jackass Dingel understands this (because GM told him so)