Nathan v. Attorney General of United States, Civ. A. No. 82-2716.

Citation563 F. Supp. 815
Decision Date27 May 1983
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 82-2716.
PartiesMartha NATHAN, et al., Plaintiffs, v. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, Defendant.
CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)

Daniel P. Sheehan, P. Lewis Pitts, Washington, D.C., for plaintiffs.

Judith F. Ledbetter, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for defendant.


GESELL, District Judge.

Plaintiffs seek the appointment of a Special Prosecutor pursuant to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, 28 U.S.C. § 581 et seq. The background of this case is fully set forth in the Court's Memorandum denying the Attorney General's motion to dismiss, found at 557 F.Supp. 1186 (D.D.C. 1983). Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is now before the Court and has been fully briefed.

While the nature and extent of the information furnished by plaintiffs in support of their request to the Attorney General for appointment of a Special Prosecutor is sharply disputed and remains obscure, due in part to the oral nature of some communications, certain information supplied is clearly identifiable. The Attorney General was advised as to the disruption of the parade at Greensboro in 1979 and the attendant violence; he was advised that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were in some degree of contact with some participants before the events; and the contentions of the plaintiffs as to the suspected existence of a conspiracy which should have been known to the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI were fully outlined in a pleading submitted to him. This was sufficient "specific information" within the meaning of the Act as then written to trigger a preliminary investigation. Accordingly, summary judgment to this effect must be granted plaintiffs.

The events on which plaintiffs' complaint rest occurred in 1979. Plaintiffs requested that the Attorney General appoint a Special Prosecutor in March, 1982. The Attorney General failed to conduct a preliminary investigation and advised plaintiffs in July, 1982, that the information supplied was insufficient to warrant inquiry. This suit was filed in September, 1982, and the Act was amended on January 3, 1983, by Pub.L. 97-409, 96 Stat. 2039. The motion of the Attorney General to dismiss this case was denied on February 23, 1983, and soon thereafter a long-pending grand jury investigation in North Carolina resulted in a civil rights indictment naming some participants in the 1979 violence but no government official covered by the Ethics in Government Act was indicted.

Throughout this long period the Attorney General has failed to undertake or complete the preliminary investigation contemplated by section 592(a)(1). Had this been done and the plaintiffs' claims found unsubstantiated, this action would not be before this Court. But since no investigation was initiated plaintiffs urge that section 592(c)(1) must now be fully implemented by an order requiring the Attorney General to apply for a Special Prosecutor.

This Court has discretion in fashioning appropriate relief and for the reasons set forth below has decided that more limited relief than that requested will be granted. A...

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6 cases
  • Nathan v. Smith, s. 83-1619
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • June 14, 1984
    ...denied by the District Court. 557 F.Supp. 1186 (D.D.C.1983). Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment which was partially granted. 563 F.Supp. 815 (D.D.C.1983). The District Court ordered the Attorney General to conduct a preliminary investigation under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 592, but declined to orde......
  • Dellums v. Smith
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • November 3, 1983
    ...the Executive. Consequently, the mandamus remedy sought by plaintiffs may be ordered by this Court. See, e.g., Nathan v. Attorney General, 563 F.Supp. 815, 816-17 (D.D.C.1983). Where federal officials have acted outside statutory authority, injunctive relief against them is appropriate. See......
  • Banzhaf v. Smith
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • May 14, 1984
    ...the courts did not go that far but ordered the Attorney General only to conduct a preliminary investigation. See Nathan v. Attorney General, 563 F.Supp. 815 (D.D.C.1983) and Dellums v. Smith, 573 F.Supp. 1489 (N.D.Cal.1983).31 The government further argues that, since there has been no prel......
  • Dellums v. Smith
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • August 21, 1986
    ...Dellums v. Smith, 573 F.Supp. 1489 (N.D.Cal.1983), motion to alter judgment denied, 577 F.Supp. 1449 (N.D.Cal.1984); Nathan v. Attorney General, 563 F.Supp. 815 (D.D.C.1983)....
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