Updated 12:40 p.m.
A businessman who has fought in Washington for two decades to hold the government responsible for its botched fraud prosecution of him will have to wait a little longer for trial.
The U.S. Justice Department this week asked a federal appeals court (PDF) to rehear the dispute in the hope the full court will overturn a panel decision in July that went against the government.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the businessman, William Moore Jr. of Texas, should be allowed to have a trial on the merits of his complaint. Moore’s case has been up and down from the trial court to the appeals court since he filed suit in 1991. Part of the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
Along the way, the heart of Moore’s case—that the government brought criminal charges against him in retaliation for speaking out about U.S. Postal Service policy—has survived appellate rulings. Indicted in 1988, Moore was acquitted in Washington federal district court during a bench trial.
In July, one judge on the appeals court expressed frustration that Moore’s dispute has dragged on.
“It has taken twenty-five years, a criminal trial, eleven appellate judges as well as all participating members of the United States Supreme Court—not one of whom has rejected his claim as a matter of law—to get to the point that a jury will finally hear and decide if government officials engaged in pay-back because the plaintiff sought to do business with the government,” Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson said in the court’s opinion. “To say that this has not been the government’s finest hour is a colossal, and lamentable, understatement.”