Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Ninth Circuit Declines to Order Further Disclosure of Vince Foster Photos
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Only four of 10 photos taken of presidential lawyer Vincent Foster's corpse by the U.S. Park Police must be released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by a Los Angeles attorney, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.
Allan J. Favish had appealed a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge William Keller of the Central District of California, limiting disclosure to five photos. The Office of Independent Counsel and Foster's widow and sister cross-appealed, arguing that release of any of the photos would violate the family's right to privacy.
In a brief, unpublished disposition filed Thursday and obtained yesterday by the MetNews, the appellate panel affirmed, except that one of the five photos that Keller ordered disclosure of is to be withheld.
Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain and Senior Judge John T. Noonan joined in the order. Judge Harry Pregerson dissented, as he had in a previous appeal, and argued that only one photo should be released.
That photo, which shows Foster clutching the gun with which he is believed to have killed himself, was leaked to the media and published in 1994.
The OIC originally succeeded in persuading Keller that none of the photographs--taken in Washington's Fort Marcy Park after Foster's body was discovered there in 1993--should be made public. But the Ninth Circuit reversed that 1998 order in July 2000, ruling that Keller had erred in making that ruling without actually looking at the photos, and directed that he examine them and make a separate determination as to each one whether the privacy interests of the family outweighed the public interest in disclosure.
On remand, Keller said that while he "commiserate[d]" with Lisa Foster Moody and Sheila Foster Anthony, who opposed the release of any photos, he was required by the Ninth Circuit ruling to strike a balance.
Moody was Foster's wife, and has since married a federal judge. Anthony, the late attorney's sister, was an appointee of President Clinton to the Federal Trade Commission and is the wife of a former congressman.
In his ruling on remand, Keller said that five of the photos were so "graphic, explicit, and extremely upsetting" that they should not be released into the public domain.
Favish claims there may have been a cover-up concerning Foster's demise. Physical evidence, Favish and others have argued, supports the notion that Foster may have been murdered, and/or that his body was moved to the park, where it was found on July 20, 1993.
Foster was a deputy White House counsel and former Arkansas law partner of now-U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and was said to be despondent about life in official Washington.
Favish has said he expects to release the photos on his website, www.allanfavish.com, which already contains a great deal of information about the Foster.
Favish has previously received more than 100 photographs related to the Foster investigation from the OIC.
The case is Favish v. Office of Independent Counsel, 01-55487.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company