PASADENA, Calif. (CN) - A Ninth Circuit panel on Friday ended its inquiry into whether a government attorney improperly cited a newspaper article about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
The case involves a class action in which undocumented immigrants who have been criminally charged and detained for more than six months are seeking bond hearings. The immigrants received an injunction from the trial court, which the Justice Department appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
At a hearing in July, the circuit's three-judge panel chastised a Justice Department attorney for citing a July 21 Los Angeles Times article about Kaene Dean, an undocumented Filipino man who is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
Circuit Judge Kim Wardlaw wondered at the hearing whether the government had leaked the Dean's case to the Times to influence the appeal proceedings, circuit's order Friday said that the both sides' submissions to an order to show cause in August have "satisfied us that no government attorney provided information to the press with the object of influencing this appeal."
Rather, Friday's unsigned discharge order said it appears that a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson provided information about the case in response to an inquiry by a Times reporter and the timing of the article's publication was "only coincidentally related" to the date of the hearing.
However, the order said the panel remains "concerned that government counsel made an argument based on evidence not properly before this court, which left an impression contrary to the facts surrounding Kaene Dean's immigration bond hearings."
The panel said it will disregard the article and the government's arguments referencing it, but "we find no basis for concluding that government counsel deliberately attempted to mislead the court."
Therefore, the panel did not impose sanctions on the Justice Department.
Neither side could be immediately reached for comment on Friday.
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