[JURIST] The chief judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [court website] granted a government motion [order, PDF] Friday to extend from August 30 to September 30 its deadline to file the first fifty factual returns in the habeas corpus [JURIST news archive] appeals of more than two hundred Guantanamo [JURIST news archive] detainees. Judge Thomas F. Hogan [official profile] nonetheless said [memorandum opinion, PDF] he granted the government's motion reluctantly, writing:
Upon review of the public and ex parte declarations, the Court is satisfied that the government is not dragging its feet in an attempt to delay these matters beyond what is necessary to protect the national security concerns associated with releasing classified information. These cases are not run of the mill; they involve significant amounts of sensitive, classified information concerning individuals whom the government alleges were part of or supporting the Taliban or al Qaida or other organizations against which the United States is engaged in armed conflict. ... Going forward under the revised schedule resulting from the Courts granting of its motion, consequently, the government cannot claim as a basis for failing to meet deadlines imposed by this Court that it 'simply did not appreciate the full extent of the challenges posed ...'AFP has more.
In July, Hogan called on the government to make the Guantanamo detention appeals a top priority [JURIST report] and devote all necessary resources to ensure that the appeals reach trial in a timely manner. Earlier in July, the court chose Hogan [JURIST report] to preside over the habeas appeals, and Hogan will rule on procedural issues common to all cases. In June, Chief Justice Royce Lamberth of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held an off-the-record meeting [JURIST report] with defense lawyers for Guantanamo detainees, reportedly discussing how the prisoners' civil court challenges to their detentions might be affected by the US Supreme Court's ruling in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. In that decision the Supreme Court held that federal courts have jurisdiction to review habeas corpus petitions filed by Guantanamo detainees who have been classified as "enemy combatants."