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Judge sees possible lapse in Carter briefing inquiry

The Justice Department may have ignored an ethics law when it closed its books on the investigation of how Jimmy Carter's briefing book for a 1980 debate reached Ronald Reagan's campaign, a federal judge said Wednesday.

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Just days after the Justice Department closed its books on the case, US District Judge Harold Greene told the government to respond to a complaint seeking appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate.

Under the ethics law, the attorney general must open a preliminary inquiry if he receives allegations about a crime involving certain high-level government officials.

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