The International Program – France

October 2, 2006

Guest:

Mr. Samuel LAINE
Director, International Mutual Legal Assistance Office MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, France

The Meridian International Center, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), invited Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton to meet with Mr. Laine, a key interlocutor and facilitator between the State Department and French Ministry of Justice in the handling of extradition matters in treaties entered into between France and the United States. Meetings were arranged with representatives of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Department of Justice, and non-governmental watchdog groups involved in criminal justice issues, to fulfill Mr. Laine’s stated objectives for his visit to the United States, which read, in part: • To gain a broad understanding of the U.S. system of justice at the federal, state and local levels;

• •

Develop a greater understanding of the role and authority of the U.S. Supreme Court; Learn about the institutional scope of the U.S. Department of Justice; Meet with academics and watchdog groups that specialize in criminal justice issues.

Judicial Watch was asked to discuss its judicial oversight role and its “projects aimed at improving the judicial process in the U.S.” Mr. Fitton provided Mr. Laine with an overview of Judicial Watch’s educational and oversight role in promoting transparency, accountability, and integrity in the government and judiciary through

the application of federal and state open records laws. Judicial Watch’s aggressive pursuit of documents through litigation—a recourse allowed by federal statute—was also discussed. Cited in example, was JW’s lawsuit against the Commerce Department. As a result of JW’s steadfast pursuit of documents from the Commerce Department, it was discovered that trade mission seats were being sold in exchange for campaign contributions—in direct violation of federal campaign finance laws. Mr. Fitton discussed another area in which Judicial Watch has boldly and aggressively pursued justice through the courts by suing government officials personally for abuse of power and egregious misconduct while holding a public trust. Mr. Laine was informed that in the U.S., government officials are, for the most part, shielded from personal liability while serving in public office under the doctrine of qualified immunity. Yet, Judicial Watch acted boldly in its attempt to hold former President William Jefferson Clinton and his Attorney General, Janet Reno, accountable for their personal conduct because of the egregious nature of their actions. JW pursued Janet Reno for her responsibility in authorizing the infamous Elian Gonzalez raid, which resulted in the gassing and beating of peaceful protestors—and Bill Clinton, in the well publicized sexual harassment lawsuit, Jones v. Clinton, in which Clinton was found to have lied under oath, in deposition, about his relationship with former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Other topics of discussion, included: Judicial Watch’s current involvement in the illegal immigration debate and JW’s lawsuit filed against the Town of Herndon on behalf of its citizens for use of taxpayer funds to build a Day Laborer Site that would benefit illegal immigrants; lack of oversight by the House Ethics Committee regarding ethics violations of its own members; hesitancy of lawyers to file complaints against judges; no independent oversight of judges; and Judicial Watch’s role in filing ethics complaints against—and bringing media exposure to—judges who blatantly engage in unethical practices. Judicial Watch is a conservative, non-partisan public interest educational foundation. Its guiding principles are transparency, accountability, and integrity, which issue from a profound respect for “the rule of law.”

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