Fehrenbach's Release Halted
BY Kerry Eleveld
August 16 2010 5:15 PM ET
The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. district court for Idaho have reached an agreement on the case of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach that temporarily prevents the Air Force from discharging him under “don’t ask, don’t tell” until the court schedules a hearing in his case.
Fehrenbach’s legal team filed a motion last week seeking a court order to stay his discharge, arguing that the government cannot establish that his continued service on active duty hinders “morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion.”
“We are pleased that the Air Force has agreed to preserve the status quo until we can have a full hearing,” said M. Andrew Woodmansee, an attorney at Morrison & Foerster LLP, the law firm representing Fehrenbach in conjunction with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “Of course, we continue to hope that the Air Force will do the right thing and let this war hero continue to serve this country.”
A spokesperson for SLDN outlined two key developments based on today’s news: The Air Force cannot sign the paperwork on Fehrenbach’s discharge until August 27 or after; and if the Air Force makes a decision at any point to discharge Fehrenbach, they must give Fehrenbach’s legal team 21 days to have a preliminary injunction hearing targeted at keeping the lieutenant at his desk job in Idaho.
Additionally, the DOJ and the Air Force will now have to notify the court of any decisions or actions taken on the case.
“The court is now an active party to all this; [the DOJ and the Air Force] will need to notify the court if they make a decision in either direction,” says Trevor Thomas, director of communications for SLDN.
SLDN’s executive director, Aubrey Sarvis, praised the fairness of the arrangement.
“The agreement recognizes the immediate harm to Lt. Col. Fehrenbach and insures that he will eventually get to make his case at a full-blown hearing without losing his job,” Sarvis says.