National Security

Court refuses to combine dozens of cases over Clinton emails

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A federal court is denying the State Department’s efforts for judges to coordinate on the roughly three-dozen pending lawsuits related to former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s emails.

The decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is a setback for the department, which had complained that the multiple legal fronts were draining its limited resources.

{mosads}But the multiple cases were at such different points in their development, Chief Judge Richard Roberts wrote in an order released Thursday, it made little sense to combine them.

“Many of the underlying cases have been pending for several years and a significant number of scheduling orders have already been entered,” Roberts wrote.

The decision to deny the State Department’s request was unanimous, Roberts added.

However, he noted that individual judges have “committed to informal coordination so as to avoid unnecessary inefficiencies and confusion.”

The State Department has complained about the multiple public records lawsuits, which seek to force into the light various documents from Clinton’s personal server during her time at State.

Last month, the government filed a request seeking to have a single judge coordinate responses to 32 of them. That would cut down on the “confusion, inefficiencies and advantages given to some requesters at the expense of others,” the department claimed.

“It will put some order to what has been a chaotic situation,” government lawyer Elizabeth Shapiro said at the time

In denying the government’s motion, the individual cases will continue to move along on a relatively scattershot basis. Any one of the 17 judges involved in the cases has the power to order the State Department to release certain documents or, if they so chose, order new searches on Clinton’s private server.

Organizations suing the government called the court’s decision a win.

The government’s request was a “desperate effort to buy time for itself and Hillary Clinton,” Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative group Judicial Watch, said in a statement. Judicial Watch has filed a total of 18 lawsuits involving Clinton’s emails.

“With this obstruction out of the way, we are one step closer to the legal reckoning for Mrs. Clinton’s and the State Department’s contempt for the rule of law.”

A State Department spokesman declined to comment.   

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