LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – The FBI search of Rep William J Jefferson…

LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – The FBI search of Rep William J Jefferson’s office last year was improper, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The New York Times reported that the raid on the Capitol Hill office of Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., improperly exposed legislative materials to executive review and ordered the return of some of the documents seized.

“We hold the that the compelled disclosure of privileged material to the Executive during execution of the search warrant for Rayburn House Office building Room 2113 violated the Speech and Debate Clause” of the Constitution, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held.

The court ruled that Jefferson is entitled to the return of privileged legislative documents – but not all original documents, including non-privileged ones, as his lawyers’ had requested.

“The congressman makes no claim in his brief, much less any showing, that the functioning of his office has been disrupted as a result of not having possession of the original versions of the non-privileged seized materials,” the Court held.

The FBI raided Jefferson’s office in May of 2006 in connection with an investigation into whether the Louisiana Democrat had demanded and accepted bribes in exchange for helping to arrange contracts between a U.S. telecommunications company and Nigerian officials. Jefferson, who won re-election to a ninth term in a Dec. 9, 2006, runoff,

Two former associates of Jefferson have pleaded guilty to bribing him, and an FBI affidavit said that agents found $90,000 in marked bills in Jefferson’s freezer during a 2005 raid on his home.

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