DOJ Must Produce Elian Documents; Boy's Relatives Attend Hearing

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Washington ( - As Miami friends and relatives of Elian Gonzalez sat watching Wednesday, US District Judge James Robertson ordered the Department of Justice to begin a "rolling production" of documents concerning the six-year-old Cuban boat refugee recently taken from those same relatives in Miami Saturday by federal marshals and reunited with his biological father near Washington.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch asked the Department of Justice to relinquish all documents associated with the "Elian Gonzalez saga" within five days. While Judge Robertson found "no compelling need" for the government to immediately turn over the documents, he ordered the DOJ to begin the process and set an "expeditious timetable" for their release.

Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman told that, although he was disappointed that Judge Robertson did not order the Justice Department to comply within five days, he was impressed that Robertson, a President Clinton appointee, ordered the Administration to make its records on Elian public.

"This is something that every American wants to see," said Klayman. "Democrats and Republicans alike. It's not a partisan issue."

Justice Department counsel Benjamin Cooper argued that Judicial Watch failed to prove that the release of the documents was an emergency that needed immediate attention.

"We think that the plaintiff [Judicial Watch] has manufactured this emergency hearing and that there is really no emergency," said Cooper.

Sitting in the front row watching the proceedings were Elian's great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez, Elian's cousin Marileysis Gonzalez, and Donato Dalrymple, one of the fishermen who rescued Elian last November from the boatwreck off the coast of Florida that claimed the life of the boy's mother, Maria Gonzalez, as they tried to escape from Cuba.