A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal court in the Southern District of New York has sole authority over evidence in the civil cases stemming from the terrorist attacks.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of Alexandria, Va., last April ordered the government to give the plaintiffs non-sensitive information that prosecutors turned over to Moussaoui's attorneys, but which was never introduced at his trial.
The appeals court unanimously ruled that Brinkema exceeded her authority.
"We, like the district court, have great sympathy for the victims of September 11 and their families," Judge Karen Williams wrote. "They have endured the most abhorrent of acts. But regardless of how much respect and compassion this court has, we must ensure that the federal courts in our jurisdiction — no matter how well intentioned — do not exceed their legal power."