Monday secret-case oral argument — part of the Congressman Fattah case?

There’s a CA3 case that will be orally argued this Monday. Here’s the caption: In the Matter of Search of Electronic Communications (Both Sent and Received) In the Account of John Smith At Internet Service Provider Google Inc.

Interesting, right?

It gets more interesting upon a check of the PACER docket, which reveals:

  • the docket entries all are sealed;
  • Kerry Kircher, general counsel for the US House, will be arguing as counsel for amicus appellant identified as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House;
  • Google also is arguing as an amicus;
  • Robert Zauzmer, the EDPA USA’s top criminal appellate lawyer, is arguing for the government;
  • The other AUSAs on the docket are Paul Gray and Eric Gibson, and
  • John Smith is identified as an intervenor-appellant, and his retained counsel is listed on the docket as Luther Weaver III.

So, what’s going on here?

Maybe this Philadelphia Inquirer story from last March sheds light:

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, who has been contending with a long-running federal investigation, told Congress this week that federal prosecutors in Philadelphia had subpoenaed “certain documents” from his congressional offices.

Following House rules that require such disclosure, the Philadelphia Democrat notified Speaker John A. Boehner of the subpoena in a letter dated Monday, saying that he believed some of the information prosecutors demanded was protected by congressional privilege and that he would fight to stop its release.

I intend to move to quash the subpoena to that extent,” Fattah wrote in the letter, published in Tuesday’s Congressional Record.

* * *

In the fall, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia subpoenaed records of city property taxes and utility bills for Fattah’s East Falls home. His lawyer, Luther E. Weaver 3d, said at the time that the property-tax subpoenas were part of an investigation that had begun about seven years ago.

* * *

Fattah, whose district includes much of Philadelphia and a portion of Montgomery County, said in his letter to Boehner (R., Ohio) that after consulting with House lawyers, he had concluded some of the subpoenaed records were “not material and relevant.”

And this news story gives more details on the Fattah case. It links to a guilty plea memo of Fattah’s reported longtime aide. The two AUSAs who signed the memo? Gray and Gibson.

So it looks to me like the Third Circuit is hearing argument Monday on Congressman Fattah’s interlocutory appeal from a ruling refusing the quash a subpoena of email, and the U.S. House and Google are standing with him.

The panel is Ambro, Fuentes, and Roth.

2 thoughts on “Monday secret-case oral argument — part of the Congressman Fattah case?

  1. Matthew Stiegler Post author

    No, they’re open. No one moved to close them. I’m not sure if I’ll go — it’s gotten so convenient to listen to argument audio online that I usually do that instead.

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