A federal appeals court will reconsider its decision to toss out a Canadian engineer's lawsuit over torture he says he endured after being mistaken for an Islamic extremist.
The move by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan was unusual not only because the full circuit assembles for a case only once or twice a year, but because Maher Arar's attorneys had yet to even ask for a full hearing.
The court notified lawyers Wednesday that the full panel of 13 judges will rehear Arar's case, which a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit dismissed in June. Arguments are scheduled for Dec. 9.
"We never even considered the possibility they would do it before we asked," said Maria LaHood, a Center for Constitutional Rights senior attorney representing Arar. "They certainly decided it was important enough on their own."
The Syrian-born Arar was detained in 2002 after switching planes at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he returned to Canada from vacation. Federal authorities say he had been wrongly listed as an al-Qaida member.