Justice Dept. May Ask Court to Drop Elian Lawsuit

By Seth Lewis | July 7, 2008 | 8:28pm EDT

(Correction: fixes that Justice Department is likely to ask for dismissal of lawsuit)

(CNSNews.com) -
The Justice Department has hinted it will ask a federal appeals court to throw out an excessive force lawsuit by Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives against former Attorney General Janet Reno.

The department Tuesday filed a notice of appeal in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and said Wednesday it will likely ask the court to overturn a lower-court decision and dismiss the lawsuit, a department spokesman said.

The suit - which targets Reno and other federal officials - claims the relatives' constitutional rights were compromised when armed federal agents staged a pre-dawn raid last year to seize Elian from a Miami home. The boy - who came to Florida after surviving a boat wreck - was later reunited with his father and returned to Cuba.

"Nowhere in the history of my life have I ever heard of a raid like this on a private home," said Ron Guralnick, a lawyer for the relatives. "... You take the worst, most violent drug offender - that kind of raid just doesn't happen."

While Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller refused to elaborate on the department's legal plans, Guralnick called the legal move a "stalling tactic" and said his clients have ample evidence of civil-rights abuses, to prevail.

"I don't think this is a very good case for the government to try because in court they've got big problems," he said.

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