By Courage to Resist. October 5, 2007 Update
Lt. Ehren Watada’s lawyer Jim Lobsenz was in the civilian U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma yesterday arguing the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (PDF) in front of Judge Benjamin Settle. The petition would order a halt the court-martial retrial currently scheduled for next Tuesday, October 9. based on Ehren’s protection against Double Jeopardy as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
Judge Settle—who was sworn in on the federal bench just last week—seemed more concerned with jurisdiction than the merits of Ehren’s petition. This has led to speculation that Judge Settle will wait until the very last moment (in order to give the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces every opportunity to step in first) before issuing a ruling—possibly as late as Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, the Editorial Board of the daily Seattle Post Intelligencer has called for Ehren’s release from the Army today “without further ado,” and Amnesty International declared that a conviction would violation international rights.
Both the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (PDF) and the Emergency Motion for a Stay of Trial Proceedings (PDF) filed yesterday clearly outline why Double Jeopardy applies to the case of Lt. Watada. Also: Army announces Oct. 9 retrial (PDF) and Army warns trial attendees against political speech or dress (PDF)
“This is a remarkably clear case of an egregious violation of the double-jeopardy clause,” Watada’s lawyers, James Lobsenz and Kenneth Kagan, wrote in the emergency motion to block the court-martial.
“We were given the impression that if he became persuaded that he did, in fact, have jurisdiction, he would have no trouble reaching a decision about whether or not to issue a stay,” Lt. Watada’s lawyer Ken Kagan said in a statement yesterday.
Earlier this week, the Army announced their intention of moving forward with the October 9 court martial that nearly all observers assumed would be postponed until a ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. However that military appeals court seems content to sit back and watch.
Because Monday, October 8th is a federal holiday and the court martial is scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th, an emergency hearing has been requested for Friday, October 5th. In a clear move to limit media coverage, Fort Lewis Public Affairs announced that media wanting to cover the trial had less than 48 hours to register with their office.
Supporters of Lt. Watada are again planing on attending any possible retrial. Those interested in attending should arrive at the Gate 120 Visitor’s Center before 7:30am Tuesday morning. Others will hold vigil throughout the day in front of Gate 119. Meanwhile, community organizers across the country are preparing to take action highlighting the case of Lt. Watada and all military war resisters over the next week.
Ehren’s term of military service ordinarily would have expired on December 4, 2006; however, he has not been discharged because of the pending court-martial charges against him for speaking out against an illegal war and refusing to obey an order to deploy and lead his soldiers in Iraq.
Information for this update provided by David Mitchell and Gerry Condon