Other Supreme Court Actions

May 25, 1993

Among decisions and orders issued by the Supreme Court yesterday:

RULINGS

FBI files. The court ruled unanimously that the FBI has no legal right to keep secret the files it has of every interview by agents during a criminal investigation. The court, ruling in a New Jersey policeman's murder case, said the FBI must justify keeping secret any reports on interviews when it gave no specific promise of confidentiality to the source. .

CASES TO BE HEARD

Judicial bias. The court said it would review, in its next term starting in October, a claim by a Baltimore peace activist, his brother in California and a Catholic priest from Georgia that a federal judge was biased against them and should have been disqualified from their trial for splattering blood at an Army education center at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1990. Joseph Patrick hTC Liteky, a member of the Jonah House Community in Baltimore, his brother Charles, and the Rev. Ray Lawrence Bourgeois, were prosecuted for damaging government property during a protest at the Army School of the Americas, which they said trained Salvadoran soldiers involved in the killing of six Jesuit priests and two other civilians in El Salvador in 1989. Each of the Liteky brothers served a six-month prison sentence, and the priest 16 months. A lower court ruled that the federal law disqualifying biased judges does not apply when the claim of bias is traced to court proceedings.

Military trials, appeals. The court also agreed to rule on the constitutionality of using temporary military judges in court-martials for crimes by service members, and judges without a permanent term of office to handle appeals of criminal cases in the military court system. The issue comes up in cases involving a Marine private convicted of shoplifting a $9 racquetball glove and a Marine corporal convicted of selling $1.7 million of cocaine he had smuggled into the country after going on a military drug raid in Colombia.

Trash disposal. The court also said it would decide the constitutionality of local government laws that bar the shipment of trash out of town for disposal. Earlier, it had ruled that it is unconstitutional for local or state governments to bar others' trash from being imported into a town or state for disposal. The new case on an export ban arose in a New York community, Clarkstown, but the appeal said 26 states (not including Maryland) now allow local governments or state agencies to stop the flow of trash out of state; such laws are often designed to help raise money to pay for local trash disposal facilities.

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