Military Commissions

Yet Another Collateral Proceeding in al-Nashiri: Stephen Gill’s Civil Complaint

By Sarah Grant
Wednesday, November 22, 2017, 9:00 AM

Add one more to the tally of collateral proceedings arising out of United States v. al-Nashiri. On Nov. 20, Stephen Gill, formerly an attorney in the Office of the Convening Authority for the Office of Military Commissions, filed administrative claims pursuant to the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) against the Department of Defense and the U.S. Marshals Service for alleged tortious activity related to Gill’s seizure, detention and production as a witness before the military commission in October 2016.

In his complaint, Gill alleges that the Office of the Chief Prosecutor issued a subpoena ordering Gill to testify by video teleconference (VTC) regarding unlawful command influence allegations on or about Oct. 13. Gill sought relief from the subpoena and did not travel to the military commission headquarters in Virginia as directed, prompting the court to issue a writ of attachment to apprehend him and compel his testimony. On Oct. 18, pursuant to that writ, Marshals forcibly seized Gill at his residence, restrained him in handcuffs and shackles at gunpoint, transported him to Virginia, detained him overnight, delivered him for VTC testimony and released him afterwards.

Gill argues that the military commission exceeded its authority in issuing the subpoena and attachment order and that the conduct of the Marshals from seizure to release was unlawful. He is bringing claims for: trespass; false arrest; false imprisonment; abuse of process–law enforcement and military authority; abuse of process–deadly force; abuse of process–denial of right to counsel; and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Gill is pursuing $1.375 million in damages.

The administrative complaint is the first step in bringing a FTCA lawsuit against the government. The agencies now have six months to review and decide whether to settle or deny the claim. If Gill’s claim is denied, he can subsequently file suit in federal district court.