Two Key Takeaways From Judge Breyer’s Ruling on Release of George Gibney’s U.S. Immigration Records

Published November 4th, 2016, Uncategorized

by Irvin Muchnick

 

Yesterday we published U.S. District Court Senior Judge Charles R. Breyer’s full opinion in the Freedom of Information Act case Muchnick v. Department of Homeland Security, both in facsimile form (http://muchnick.net/gibneyruling.pdf) and as full text (http://concussioninc.net/?p=11537).

The ball is in the federal government’s court on how to comply with this “tentative” order. Should the government continue to balk at additional disclosures from rapist former Irish Olympic swim coach George Gibney’s immigration records, the tentative order will be converted to a binding one. We just reported that the two sides have agreed to submit a response to Judge Breyer within 30 days. 

Meanwhile, two highlights emerge from Wednesday’s ruling.

 

  • “[T]he Court is prepared to rule (largely) in Muchnick’s favor.”

Not every single point in the judge’s discussion went our way; it rarely does. But on the threshold questions of whether we have prevailed in advocating that certain public-interest circumstances surrounding the Gibney file rise to the level of trumping the government’s assertions of privacy exemptions under FOIA, the answers are clear “yeses.”

 

  • The opinion is extraordinarily thorough in both legal argument and factual foundation.

In what I think is fair to call a measure of how seriously he regards this matter, Judge Breyer included in the opinion a comprehensive capsule of what is called “the sordid history” of Gibney’s era of Irish swimming.

How many court rulings go to such lengths as inserting a footnote that invites readers to order on Amazon the book Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals by the author whom Breyer goes out of his way to identify as “award-winning journalist” Justine McCarthy (now with the Sunday Times of London)?

The judge also highlighted this reporter’s own informed suspicions — only briefly alluded to in my declaration submitted to the court, but voluminously developed in the writings at this website — that the American Swimming Coaches Association, as the opinion put it, “greased the wheels for Gibney’s relocation” to the U.S. to escape further brushes with the Irish criminal justice system.

Does Judge Breyer “get it”? You bet he does.

Now we wait to see how far down the field the culmination of this case will take the ball in correcting the American and global swimming governance systems, which prioritize exploitation and money grabs over the safe treatment of youth athletes. Over, indeed, decency itself.