Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Jeff blogged last week about the report by the DOJ's Inspector General, which found that the DOJ had illegally used political or ideological factors in hiring new attorneys into its Honors Program. The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times reports on what appears to be the first lawsuit brought in the fallout.
A former candidate for the Justice Department's honors program is suing for $100,000 in damages, alleging Justice officials violated his rights and those of others when they brought political bias into vetting honors-program applications.
The class action by Sean Gerlich — filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — is the first suit resulting from an internal Justice report issued last week that says two former Justice officials illegally screened applicants to the honors and summer intern programs.
The two officials were Esther Slater McDonald, then counsel to the associate attorney general and now an associate at Seyfarth Shaw, and Michael Elston, then chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and now a partner at McGuire Woods.
Gerlich's suit says the department politicized the selection process, mishandled the applications and failed to maintain the records, all in violation of the Privacy Act, the Civil Service Reform Act and the Federal Records Act. In addition, the suit claims violations of the First and 14th Amendments.
The suit alleges that Gerlich was not hired because of liberal affiliations that officials discovered by doing internet searches of his name. He had received good reviews as an intern for one of the DOJ chiefs. Stay tuned for more.