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Published: Tuesday, 10/27/2009

Judge: Local charity can't be termed a terror group

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A local Muslim charity, whose constitutional rights were found to have been violated when the U.S. government froze its financial assets in 2006, cannot be labeled as a terrorist organization pending the outcome of the civil case, a federal judge in Toledo ruled Monday.

Judge James Carr released an order late Monday temporarily prohibiting the government from labeling KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development Inc., as a "specially designated global terrorist."

The 13-page order states the government is prohibited from designating the organization pending the judge's "determination of what remedy shall issue because of the constitutional and statutory violations" already found.

Judge Carr had issued an order Aug. 18 that agreed with the organization's assertions that KindHearts was denied due process and subjected to the unlawful seizure of its property when the government froze its assets.

"Judge Carr's ruling is another step in the vindication of KindHearts' rights and the curbing of the government's constitutional abuses," said Fritz Byers, an attorney for KindHearts.

"Having already found that the government acted unconstitutionally toward KindHearts, Judge Carr has now established the crucial principles that KindHearts is entitled to a meaningful remedy for those wrongful acts and that the government cannot cavalierly move ahead in disregard of the Constitution and the court's authority to enforce it."

KindHearts, founded in 2002, was targeted in 2006 by federal agents, who froze the charity's financial assets.

According to court documents, the organization was under investigation by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department and would potentially be labeled as a "specially designated global terrorist."

In his Aug. 18 order, Judge Carr wrote, "KindHearts is indisputably one of 'the people' protected by the Fourth Amendment.

"If the Constitution affords KindHearts no protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, whom among 'the people' does it protect and who among the people can be certain of its protection?"

Though the judge found the organization's rights were violated, he offered no opinion on to what extent KindHearts suffered as a result of the government's actions.

Instead, he asked attorneys for both sides to submit more information.

As of yesterday, no remedy had been determined.

KindHearts' attorneys feared the government would move forward on a designation pending this review of damages.

Judge Carr yesterday prevented that from occurring.

"Under the unique facts of the present case, where I have already held that KindHearts was subject to multiple constitutional and statutory violations, my jurisdiction will be frustrated if the administrative process [of designation] is permitted to proceed before I address what remedies, if any, are appropriate," the judge wrote.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice could not be reached for comment, as the order was released late in the day.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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