The Sword Stays

Posted April 25, 2008 at 6:01pm

A District of Columbia Superior Court judge ruled last week that the sword, ammunition and other evidence found during the initial investigation of Michael Gorbey can be included in this week’s trial.

[IMGCAP(1)]Associate Judge Gregory Jackson dismissed Gorbey’s motion to suppress most of the evidence against him, citing the Capitol Police’s lawful searches of Gorbey and a pickup truck linked to him.

On Jan. 18, police arrested Gorbey after he was seen allegedly carrying a shotgun near the Capitol. In their initial searches, police found a sword and ammunition in his backpack and seized the green pickup.

In a hearing on the motion last week, Gorbey questioned the lead investigator on the case about the precise times of his arrest. Though he was detained at 1:07 p.m., he wasn’t officially arrested until after the searches, at about 1:50 p.m. A follow-up search of the truck weeks later turned up explosive materials that were missed the first time around.

Jackson explained in his decision that the initial searches were lawful because of the “custodial arrest” and the “exigencies” of the situation, despite the lack of a warrant at the time.

Jackson also dismissed another motion from Gorbey to preclude an expert’s testimony on the explosive material allegedly found in the truck.

The trial is set to begin this afternoon in District of Columbia Superior Court.

A Path Toward Independence. The inspectors general of federal agencies are close to having more independence and Congressional protection after the Senate passed a bill last week to amend the Inspector General Act.

Another version of the bill passed the House in October, bringing comprehensive IG reform close to realization. However, the House and Senate bills have some key differences, including how much leeway agencies (or the White House) would have in firing their IGs.

Both bills also largely ignore the handful of IGs in the legislative branch, partly because those positions were not created through the Inspector General Act of 1978 — the act both bills would change. Instead, legislative branch agencies each added an IG through individual statutes.

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) bill offers some protection by directly applying one provision to the Library of Congress, Government Printing Office and Capitol Police that requires agency chiefs to give notice to Congress if firing an IG.

Members in the House and Senate now must compromise on a final bill.

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