Thursday, December 31, 2009

Judge Slaps Down Blackwater Prosecutions

The 2007 incident in which Blackwater guards shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad may be coming to a close. I am not impugning guilt on the part of the guards. The government used statements that the guards were compelled to make as part of the State Department investigation into the shooting to build their prosecution. Judge Ricardo Urbina (pictured) trashed the prosecution's misconduct in the case. H/T to Volokh Conspiracy for information on the judge's decision:

In their zeal to bring charges against the defendant in this case, the prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements the defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation. In so doing, the government’s trial team repeatedly disregarded the warnings of experienced, senior prosecutors, assigned to the case specifically to advise the trial team on Garrity and Kastigar issues, that this course of action threatened the viability of the prosecution. The government used the defendants’ compelled statements to guide its charging decisions, to formulate its theory of the case, to develop investigatory leads and, ultimately, to obtain the indictment in this case.
Interestingly, most commenters at DailyKos are supporting the rule of law, despite the general blood lust against Blackwater on the left. A little ray of hope?

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