WASHINGTON (CN) – A nuclear engineer who says he was unfairly booted from a D.C. Superior Court grand jury lost his challenge that his dismissal violated his equal protection rights.
U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. reversed an earlier decision, giving sovereign immunity to the court official and prosecutor that dismissed the man from the grand jury.
Peter Atherton sued the officials along with the D.C. government in 2004 for being dismissed from a grand jury for requesting more information on the elements of crimes not mentioned in his instruction book. He also claimed that he “felt that his fellow grand jurors reacted negatively to his Hispanic ethnicity.” He said he was never told why he was being dismissed and was never given the opportunity to defend himself.
The same court ruled in favor of the court officials in 2007, but the D.C. Court of Appeals reversed the decision in part, sending the case back for determination of whether the official and the prosecutor had qualified immunity. The judge granted them immunity from Atherton’s claims and dismissed his case.