A federal magistrate judge in Washington today released a 157-page report detailing evidence and testimony in a dispute over the handling of evidence from mass arrests of protesters in downtown Washington in 2002.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge John Facciola did not, however, offer his conclusions on the central issue of whether city or police officials mishandled, concealed or destroyed evidence.
Facciola, who was appointed by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to probe the evidence-related allegations as a special master, wrote that he wasn't clear on the scope of his authority at this point.
"As I am reluctant to speculate as to Judge Sullivan’s intentions, particularly when the sanctions sought are so severe," Facciola wrote.
The underlying litigation involves mass arrests by the Metropolitan Police Department during protests around Pershing Park in 2002. In recent years, the arrest litigation has been put on hold as lawyers for the plaintiffs and the city fought over allegations that officials mishandled evidence and withheld information from the court.
Facciola's report didn't include a time frame for when Sullivan might decide how the case should proceed. "I will instead issue the following findings of fact but defer issuing conclusions of law until Judge Sullivan indicates the nature of the authority he wishes me to exercise," Facciola wrote, "assuming he intends me to have additional responsibilities once he reviews my findings."
Counsel for the plaintiffs and a representative of the city Office of the Attorney General could not immediately be reached for comment.