Feb 2 (Reuters) - A federal appeals
court on Thursday sanctioned lawyers behind a lawsuit accusing
former officials in the Bush administration of orchestrating the
Sept. 11 attacks.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ordered two
California lawyers to pay $15,000 in addition to double what the
government spent defending the case. For the next year, the
lead lawyer behind the litigation must inform other federal
courts in the circuit of the sanctions against him.
Three attorneys -- Dennis Cunningham, William Veale and
Mustapha Ndanusa -- filed the lawsuit in 2008 on behalf of April
Gallop, a member of the U.S. Army injured in the Pentagon attack
on Sept. 11, 2001. The lawyers accused then-Vice President Dick
Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld of causing the attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon in order to create a political
atmosphere that would allow the U.S. government to pursue
domestic and international policy objectives. The suit alleged
conspiracy to cause death and bodily harm and a violation of the
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin dismissed the case in 2010,
ruling that the complaint was frivolous and a product of
"cynical delusion and fantasy." A three-judge panel of the 2nd
Circuit upheld that decision, imposing $15,000 in sanctions on
the three lawyers for filing the suit.
In requesting a rehearing before the full 2nd Circuit panel,
the lawyers asked the court to disqualify the panel "and any
like-minded colleagues" from participating in the decision to
grant en banc review. Their motion accused the panel of
exhibiting "severe bias, based in active personal emotions
arising from the 9/11 attack."
But the 2nd Circuit took exception to the disqualification
request, concluding that no attorney would make such a demand in
The court imposed an additional punishment on Cunningham,
who described himself as "the decider" in developing the case
and writing the court filings. For the next year, Cunningham
must inform other federal courts in circuit of the sanctions
"We are not delusional by any means. We have the facts, and
they cannot be explained," said Veale, a former chief assistant
public defender for Contra Costa County, California.
Cunningham did not immediately respond to a request for
The 2nd Circuit reversed the sanctions against Ndanusa, who
only served a minor role as local counsel. Ndanusa said all of
the lawyers acted in good faith in bringing the lawsuit.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New
York declined to comment on the litigation.
The case is Gallop v. Cheney et al, U.S. Court of Appeals
for the 2nd Circuit, No. 10-1241.
For Gallop: William Cunningham, Mustapha Ndanusa and William
For Cheney et al: Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Simmons.
(Reporting By Terry Baynes)
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