Montano was named in a 1993 United Nations report on human rights abuses during the Salvadoran war. It was the CJA that in 2008 first filed a criminal complaint in Spain for the Jesuits’ killings (20 people were included in the May indictments). It was the CJA that in August publicized Montano's presence outside Boston and his military past.
As part of a criminal investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations arrested Montano that month. He was charged in November with making false statements on an immigration application and perjury. [Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly described the independent investigations of the CJA and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that lead up to the arrest of Mr. Montano..]
“Most of our cases are civil litigation – often we never see any money [from judgments]; it’s more about [having] your day in court and confronting the atrocity and the abuser, and having the opportunity to tell the truth,” Ms. Merchant says.
Along with pro bono counsel, the CJA (with just 10 employees) has won millions of dollars in judgments for its clients and has brought the importance of human rights to the attention of American politicians and news media.
Even in victory, though, the CJA’s cases often depict a dismaying reality: After a war, peace, no matter how welcome, can fail to deliver justice and transparency.