Cases & Deals

President's right to indefinitely detain a U.S. civilian in military custody is challenged

Clients Al-Marri, Ali Saleh Kahlah

Jones Day contributed to a major constitutional decision when Washington office partners Timothy J. Finn and Julia E. McEvoy and associate Katherine E. Stern filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Al-Marri v. Wright, the first case to test whether the President may seize a U.S. resident civilian and hold him indefinitely in military custody without due process or other constitutional protections. Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a legal alien and the only U.S. resident to be designated an "enemy combatant" by the President, had been held in isolation on a Naval brig for over three years by the time his constitutional challenge to the President's order reached the Fourth Circuit. When Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, limiting the habeas rights of aliens detained at Guantanamo, the Government argued that the new legislation stripped the Fourth Circuit of jurisdiction to hear al-Marri's appeal as well. Jones Day's brief demonstrated that the Military Commissions Act could not be read to apply to al-Marri; that the Patriot Act required resident alien detainees to be deported, charged with a crime, or released; and that indefinite detention in abusive conditions for the purpose of prolonged interrogation had been held illegal by the Supreme Court. On June 11, 2007, the Fourth Circuit agreed, holding that "al-Marri's military detention must cease" in a 2-1 ruling that incorporated all Jones Day's arguments. See Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri v. Wright, Case No. 06-7427, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 13642 (4th Cir. June 11, 2007).

See attached for The Fourth Circuit opinion and Brief of Amicus NACDL.

Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri v. Wright, Case No. 06-7427, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 13642 (4th Cir., June 11, 2007)