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Columnist: Public Locked Out of Trial in ATF agent Jay Dobyns’ Suit

Jay Dobyns/his website

By Tim Steller
Arizona Daily Star

I walked into a “sealed” courtroom in downtown Tucson Thursday afternoon and saw something interesting: six Justice Department staffers at one table, two plaintiffs’ advocates at the other.

The case would perhaps be the trial of the year in Tucson if the courtroom weren’t closed to the public. I got in for a couple of minutes because the judge hadn’t arrived yet for the afternoon session.

Inside, Jay Dobyns, his attorney and a paralegal are pressing his case that his employer, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, breached his contract. Dobyns is well-known in Tucson – a local son who played wide receiver for the University of Arizona in the 1980s before becoming an ATF agent and, in the early 2000s, infiltrating the Hells Angels.

The way Dobyns claims the ATF breached his contract is what makes the case so interesting: He says that for years after the Hells Angels operation ended in 2003, the agency failed to protect him and his family from violent threats, then failed to adequately investigate an arson fire at his house on Tucson’s east side in August 2008.

His own agency initially accused him of setting the fire, Dobyns says. The case eventually was transferred to the FBI: It remains theirs – and unresolved – today.

“There’s no reason for us to be here,” Dobyns told me Thursday at lunchtime. “My case is overwhelming.”

To read full column click here. 


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