Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Watada Mistrial: Here's What Really Happened


First Lt. Ehren Watada knew exactly what his case was about - and that scared the judge.

There was absolutely no reason to stop the Watada trial.

The judge's claim that Lt. Watada did not fully understand a document he signed admitting to elements of the charges is completely untrue (see Melanthia Mitchell, AP, 2/8/07).

The military seized on that claim and complimented the judge for "protecting the rights of the accused" in granting the mistrial.

Here's what really happened.

If I've set the hook, reel yourself in and go read. Caution: Mass lawyerspeak may make your eyes glaze over like a Krispy Kreme.

Cut to the chase:

I wouldn't bet against these four authorities. Any fair-minded review of this case will reveal that the defense was doing far better than anyone had expected; that Lt. Watada had protected his rights at every turn; and that the judge was scared of letting this case go to any factfinder who had any chance of being fully informed of Lt. Watada's belief that the war in Iraq is illegal.

There's a lot of technical legal details here that led to the declaration of mistrial, but I'll bet that at the heart of it, the judge didn't want this trial - and his career - involved in declaring this illegal war and occupation illegal.

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