Federal Judge G. Thomas Eisele has dismssed a petition in behalf of capital murder defendant Antoine Baker, represented by John Wesley Hall Jr., challenging the legality of a prosecution by U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin. Hall argued that Griffin's indefinite appointment to the post on an interim basis, without a Senate confirmation hearing, was unconstitutional.
As it has been explained to us (we're getting a copy of the ruling), Eisele said a confirmation is required unless Congresses chooses to provide a way around the process, which it did by an amendment to the Patriot Act, little noticed at the time of adoption but now a subject of hot controversy because of removals of eight U.S. attorneys, including Little Rock's Bud Cumoins. Note, however, that the issue could be revived next week. A vote is scheduled Monday to repeal the Patriot Act provision and the Bush administration has already said it won't stand in the way of its approval.
Interesting footnote: Eisele took pains to note court precedent that said only the president has authority to remove a duly appointed U.S. attorney. He accepted at face value that Bud Cummins had resgined and not been removed. It has since become clear he was constructively fired by being forced out to make room for Griffin. But the Eisele footnote could have implications for other cases around the country.