Or did they just lose?
UPDATED with details in comments, on how (and why) the Obama DoJ may indeed have dropped the case...
By Brad Friedman on 5/27/2009, 2:27pm PT  

[Update: Be sure to read Lori Minnite's explanation in comments of what seems to have happened here. Details at bottom of article.]

Unless I'm missing something here (please let me know if I am!) it doesn't appear that the DoJ "dropped" charges against the RNC's alleged 2002 NH election "phone-jammer," James Tobin, as is currently being described in news accounts, and via several emails I've received alerting me to the story.

From my read of AP's coverage, and several others, it looks like the DoJ lost their original New Hampshire case, and then recently saw the appeal of a refiled case, with a different focus (lying to federal investigators) in Maine, "dismissed" by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

Losing, and/or being dismissed, seems a far cry from the feds having "dropped" the case, as AP's headline, run at NY Times and elsewhere described it ("Feds Drop Phone-Jamming Case Against GOP Organizer"). TPM's Zachary Roth also seems to have picked up the AP/Times "dropped" meme to headline his version of the story as: "Feds Drop New Hampshire Phone-Jamming Case".

The full AP version of the story uses "drop" or "dropped" three times in the headline, the sub-headline, and in the first graf...

Feds drop phone-jamming case against GOP organizer
Case dropped against GOP organizer in NH phone-jamming case; congressman unsatisfied

May 27, 2009 12:51 EST

Federal prosecutors have dropped their case against a GOP organizer they accused in a plot to jam Democratic phone lines in New Hampshire during an election, drawing a sharp response Wednesday from a congressman who said he will continue to press for a "full airing.

...but nowhere, at least in the coverage I've been able to find so far, is it reported that federal officials chose to "drop" it, as has been suggested in AP's coverage, Roth's coverage, and in the many emails I've been receiving on this. Both Roth and the emailers have been charging that while the Obama DoJ has now "dropped" charges against Republican Sen. Ted Stevens (that one is accurate) and now, supposedly Tobin, while continuing the charges against Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman --- and even upping the ante by outrageously asking for a new, much longer sentence --- in the case where it's quite clear that the former Alabama governor was railroaded by a partisan politcal prosecution led up by Karl Rove and his minions at the DoJ.

Don't get me wrong. There is much to criticize in the actions (or inactions) so far of the Obama DoJ, and its AG Eric Holder. In fact, I've been rather outspoken in my criticism, having led a VR campaign (RestoreJusticeAtJustice.com) calling for a full investigation of all Bush-era political prosecutions, and that they be vacated where such malfeasance is found.

But, while the Tobin case may have been poorly prosecuted by the Bush-era prosecutors who carried it out (perhaps even on purpose), this doesn't seem to be a case of the Obama/Holder DoJ simply threw in the towel to "drop" the case, as is being averred in these reports.

I'm not an attorney, nor have I read the latest actual legal findings, etc. So if someone has additional information to help me clarify, I'll be happy to post a correction here as appropriate.

UPDATE 5/29/09: Barnard/Columbia's Assoc. Prof Lori Minnite offers a bit of clarity in this murky case, offering a brief history and legal analysis leading up to her conclusion: "I think it is fair to say that the Obama DOJ dropped the recent case filed against Tobin for allegedly lying to an FBI agent. The question is why..." She has some thoughts on that as well in her concise summary of the mess. All posted below in comments. (Thanks, Lori!)

writing "the Obama DOJ dropped the recent case filed against Tobin for allegedly lying to an FBI agent. The question is why."

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