Jefferson Wins Round, Return of Documents

Appeals court says FBI violated indicted congressman’s rights
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2007 6:51 PM CDT
Jefferson Wins Round, Return of Documents
A reporter walks out of the Capitol Hill office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., in this June 4, 2007 file photo. The FBI violated the Constitution when agents raided Jefferson's office last year and viewed legislative documents, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, Aug. 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)   (Associated Press)

Rep. William Jefferson scored a legal victory today, winning the return of privileged materials from a FBI raid on his office. An appeals court said the raid itself was not unconstitutional, but the search of legislative materials was illegal. It’s unclear whether the ruling will affect the 16-count indictment against the congressman, but the Justice Department said it changes nothing.

The court ruled that documents covered under a constitutional clause that allows Congress to act independently of the executive branch must be returned, but many of the seized materials don't fit that description, the Washington Post reports. The government has maintained it used no privileged materials in building its bribery case against the Louisiana Democrat. (Read more William Jefferson stories.)

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