The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a request by a federal government oversight committee to reconsider the circuit's ruling allowing a Salt Lake City attorney access to a report that indicates a possible cover-up in the death of the attorney's brother.
In its order filed last week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency to have Jesse Trentadue's case re-heard by all 12 of the 10th Circuit judges, or "en banc." In fact, the order states that not a single circuit judge supported the government's motion to re-hear the case.
The government has sought to keep Trentadue from obtaining a copy of a federal report that may show that Department of Justice Officials conducted a cover-up surrounding the death of Trentadue's brother in a federal prison in Oklahoma. The report reviews allegations of misconduct in the investigation into the August 1995 death of Kenneth Trentadue.
Jesse Trentadue contends that his brother was killed during an FBI interrogation as part of the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing in a case of mistaken identity. The death was officially ruled a suicide.
The Integrity Committee argued that the report was not public because it was a law enforcement investigation and that the actions of federal agents, along with their identities, should not be made public.
Last September, a three-judge 10th Circuit panel rejected the government's arguments, stating that government agents who commit "serious acts of misconduct" should be disclosed so that the public can learn how law enforcement agencies deal with them. The court also noted that many of the names of government agents already had been publicly disclosed within testimony and documents from a suit filed by Trentadue's family.
Trentadue's family sued the federal government for wrongful death. During the course of the suit, Jesse Trentadue claims he ran across evidence that government workers had destroyed documents and encouraged witnesses to lie about what took place at the federal prison in Oklahoma City. Jesse Trentadue claims the cover-up reached to the top of the Department of Justice's high-ranking officials, including the department's inspector general, whose job it is to police corruption within the department.
An internal investigation by the DOJ upheld the FBI's finding that the death was a suicide. Jesse Trentadue appealed to the Integrity Committee, which suddenly dismissed the claim and refused to explain why. When Trentadue requested the committee's report under the Freedom of Information Act, he received 50-some pages of blacked-out lines.Last September, the 10th Circuit panel expressed concern when judges discovered some of the information blacked out in the report was clearly public information. In the recent ruling, the 10th Circuit noted that, although the government contends that Jesse Trentadue's allegations of wrongdoing are "unsubstantiated," they felt the allegations were "adequately supported."
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