BOISE — A federal appellate court said yesterday that it would not reconsider its ruling that former attorney general John D. Ashcroft can be held personally responsible for misuse of the material witness statute after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The ruling was made after a majority of the full US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit voted to deny Ashcroft’s request amid bitter dissent by eight of its judges.
Abdullah al-Kidd, a US citizen, sued Ashcroft and other federal officials after he was arrested and jailed as a material witness in a terrorism case against another man. He said his arrest and detention were a ruse to give the government time to investigate him for any potential wrongdoing. He was never called to testify at trial.
“I am extremely pleased, not just for myself, but all the other people who were unlawfully detained,’’ Kidd said of the decision.
The dissenting judges, led by Diarmuid O’Scannlain, said the ruling was contrary to logic and law and would dissuade people from serving as attorney general.
“Because of the gratuitous damage this decision inflicts upon orderly federal law enforcement, I must respectfully dissent from our refusal to rehear this case en banc,’’ O’Scannlain wrote in his dissent, joined by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski and Judges Andrew Kleinfeld, Ronald Gould, Richard Tallman, Consuelo Callahan, Carlos Bea, and Sandra Ikuta.
Ashcroft’s request for a rehearing was made after a three-judge panel ruled Sept. 4 that he can be sued by people who contend he created an illegal policy of using the material witness statute to arrest suspects whom he wished to detain preventively and investigate.