Lawsuit filed after new US Attorney is recused from Governor Whitmer kidnap case

Mark A. Totten was sworn in as US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan back on May 5 and was quickly taken off the case
Josh Blanchard Lawsuit Web
Posted at 12:24 PM, Jul 01, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An attorney for one of the men charged in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan seeking to get a copy of an internal office memo.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, Kaleb Franks, and Ty Garbin were all arrested in October of 2020 and charged with conspiracy to kidnap for allegedly planning to kidnap Governor Whitmer at her vacation home. Fox, Croft and Harris are all facing additional charges.

Franks and Garbin later decided to enter into plea agreements with the government, and testified against their co-defendants in trial.

Back on April 8, after five days of jury deliberations, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were found not guilty on all charges leveled against them. A mistrial was declared in the cases against Adam Fox and Barry Croft after the jury was unable to come to a decision on their charges.

The US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan at the time of the verdicts, Andrew Birge, said his office planned to retry the cases against Fox and Croft.

Mark A. Totten was sworn in as the new US Attorney for the district on May 5.

Totten has since filed a motion with the court saying he would not be participating in the upcoming retrial. FOX 17 reached out to his office for details on why he decided to withdraw from the case, but they had no comment at the time.

Joshua Blanchard, attorney for Barry Croft, is working to find out exactly why the new US Attorney recused himself from the case.

"I asked for a copy of the memo he [Totten] wrote explaining why he needed to be recused, and the government refused to turn it over, so I filed a lawsuit against the US Attorney's office to get a copy, and we’re waiting to receive a copy," Blanchard told FOX 17.

He filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Attorney's office on June 13.

"On information and belief, the recusal was at Mr. Totten’s request," the filing reads.

"On information and belief, a memorandum exists detailing Mr. Totten’s request to be recused because DOJ policy required Mr. Totten to draft such a memorandum to request his recusal."

Blanchard writes that he requested the memo through a freedom of information act (FOIA) request back on May 10, and has still not received any response from their office.

According to the state of Michigan's own FOIA information site, "Upon legal date of receipt of a FOIA request, the public body has five (5) business days to respond. If needed, however, the public body may also send a written notice extending the time to respond by an additional 10 business days."

According to Blanchard's filing, the U.S. Attorney's office has failed to act within those time frames.

The lawsuit is asking to have the alleged memo released to Blanchard for proper review ahead of Barry Croft and Adam Fox's retrial set to begin the week of August 8.

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