Five Key Reasons Raven 23 Should Win on Appeal
While we are disappointed that Judge Lamberth denied the motion for new trial and allowed convictions secured by perjured testimony to stand, the fact that he ruled means that the Raven 23 case is no longer stalled. Over a year after their unjust and unconstitutional convictions, Nick, Paul, Evan, and Dustin can FINALLY appeal. They and their loved ones have every confidence that the appeal will either result in the complete reversal of their convictions or, at minimum, a new trial. While these are certainly not the only appealable issues, here are just five key reasons why Raven 23 should win on appeal:
1. The government has no jurisdiction to prosecute Nick, Paul, Evan, and Dustin. Visit our No Jurisdiction page to learn more about why. There is a tendency for some to view the jurisdiction issue as merely a technicality. However, if Nick, Paul, Evan, and Dustin prevail on this issue, it means that they were illegally prosecuted. As a result, their convictions will be overturned, and they will be set free.
2. The government failed to present legally sufficient evidence to prove Nick’s murder charge, a charge that the government vindictively brought after Nick successfully asserted his right not to be prosecuted for the lesser charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. Visit our Murder? page to learn more about two key issues unique to Nick’s case. For Nick, these issues are just as important as the jurisdiction issue because, if Nick prevails on his sufficiency or vindictive prosecution argument, his conviction for murdering a person someone else admitted to killing will be overturned.
3. The government knowingly presented perjured testimony. This is known as a Giglio violation, and it undermines any confidence in the jury’s guilty verdict, requiring a new trial. Visit our Perjured Testimony page to learn how the government built its entire theory of what happened in Nisur Square on perjured testimony. Judge Lamberth refused to grant a new trial based on this significant post-verdict perjury revelation, but in the Raven 23 case at least, his rulings have not held up under scrutiny by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. We have every confidence that the appellate court will not allow convictions secured by perjury to stand.
4. The government suppressed exculpatory evidence. This is known as a Brady violation, and it also undermines any confidence in the jury’s guilty verdict, necessitating a new trial. Visit The Trial page to read about how—for nearly 7 years—the government failed to disclose photographs of enemy shell casings taken just minutes after the engagement at a location from which several members of Raven 23 testified that the convoy took incoming fire. The shell casing Brady violation is not the only instance in which the government failed to disclose evidence that supported the defendants’ innocence. However, it is a striking example of how the government failed to comply with basic rules designed to ensure the trial was fair.
5. Washington, DC, was not the proper venue for the Raven 23 trial. Visit our No Venue in DC page to learn why. Because the Raven 23 case should not have been tried in DC, at minimum, Nick, Paul, Evan, and Dustin are entitled to a new trial in the proper venue (Utah for Paul, Evan, and Dustin, and Tennessee for Nick) by a jury of their peers.
Any defendant convicted by a jury faces an uphill battle on appeal. However, the surest path to victory is to show that significant rights violations—like those that occurred in the Raven 23 case—undermine any confidence in the jury’s verdict. Add rights violations like those highlighted in this post to strong legal arguments that the prosecution was illegal to begin with, or at the very least, brought in the improper venue, and you have just five reasons we #KeepTheFaith that Nick, Paul, Evan, and Dustin will get true justice on appeal.