Blogs > Cliopatria > Boston College (Cont.): Paging the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar

Oct 5, 2011

Boston College (Cont.): Paging the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar

A few quick updates regarding the federal subpoenas of oral history materials at Boston College:

1.) Irish-American organizations are seeking meetings with members of Congress to raise questions about the DOJ's handling of the request for subpoenas under the terms of the US-UK MLAT. See this story for details. These meetings finally offer a political response to a transparently political investigation, and they represent a hugely positive development. This course of action is exactly the one I had hoped to see the AHA, AAUP, and other academic organizations pursue several months ago. But at least someone is willing to make a stand for the integrity and independence of academic research, while academics are apparently not interested. I'm still confused by that last part.

2.) The DOJ has filed a pissy little brief demanding that the court get on with it, already. The Sept. 30 filing asks the court to refuse a request from BC's researchers to file an additional brief (in response to this vicious little jug of bile from the government) regarding their desire to intervene in the case.

3.) Finally, and pretty curiously, the case in federal court is now on its third judge. In a notice of recusal filed on Oct. 5 (see below), District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro announced that he is leaving the case due to a conflict of interest (that he doesn't make explicit). Weirdly, Tauro has been assigned to the case since Aug. 11, but just noticed that he shouldn't be involved. So a request for subpoenas that was filed on March 30 is now on its second federal lawyer and its third judge. It's like watching a series of celebrity marriages: There goes another one, and it's only been a few months. Of course, this new recusal means more delays, as the new judge will need time to familiarize himself with the case. (ADDED LATER: I missed this in Pacer this morning, but Judge Tauro sent Boston College and the DOJ a notice that his son is a partner at BC's law firm. In that Sept. 28 notice, Tauro said he would recuse himself if either side asked him to do so. No explanation why it took Aug. 11 to Sept. 28 to raise the question.)


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