As a movement dedicated to securing the freedom of four wrongly-imprisoned servicemen, sometimes the bad news is overwhelming. So, when something good happens, we can’t wait to share it.
Within the last week, we’ve had two key developments in the Raven 23 appeal that are worthy of celebration. First, the appellate panel that will decide the Raven 23 appeal was announced, AND our legal team is satisfied that these judges will rule based on the law, not politics. As the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ hard-hitting amicus brief makes clear, the law requires overturning Dustin, Evan, Nick, and Paul’s unjust convictions. An appellate panel comprised of judges inclined to follow the law is an answered prayer that brings us one step closer to true justice and the restoration of our families.
The second piece of good news also concerns oral argument. Nick Slatten—the member of Raven 23 the government vindictively prosecuted for murder while simultaneously hiding evidence of Nick’s innocence from his jury—has won the right to argue his extensive legal issues together. Because this critical exculpatory evidence (an immunized statement from a codefendant) is presently under seal, the government argued that Nick should be limited to arguing about this evidence being wrongly withheld from his jury behind closed doors and not permitted to reference it in connection with his actual innocence and vindictive prosecution arguments. Winning the right to have all his issues heard together means that, although Nick’s portion of the oral argument is expected to be sealed to the public, his lawyers won’t have the arduous task of piecemealing their advocacy for him, and they will be able to openly discuss the evidence that proves Nick is innocent in connection with all of his appellate arguments.
An added bonus: Nick’s win also helps Dustin, Evan, and Paul because the time allotted for Nick’s extensive individual issues will not be deducted from the time allotted for the defense team to argue the numerous legal issues in the joint brief (i.e., lack of jurisdiction, the government’s use of perjured testimony, incorrect venue, unconstitutional misapplication of a federal weapons law, and the lack of legally sufficient evidence to support Evan Liberty’s conviction).
While we are so thankful to be able to share this good news, we are still months away from reuniting our families. Oral arguments are coming up on January 17, 2017, but we will not know the appellate court’s decision for several weeks to months after that date. During this critical time, we thank you for your thoughts and prayers, as well as the actions you are taking to help shed light on this American injustice. To participate in a special advocacy effort currently underway, please join us on Twitter as we ask members of the media to cover our fight for true justice. #FreeRaven23
FEBRUARY 23, 2017 UPDATE: At the last minute, the appellate court changed its decision and required Nick Slatten to argue about the sealed statements that prove his innocence behind closed doors, separate from his other arguments (which were public). While we were extremely disappointed in this ruling that required Nick to divide his arguments between an open and closed courtroom--and while we are even more disappointed by the lack of public transparency surrounding Nick's case--oral arguments for all four men went well, and we have every confidence that they will win their appeal and be reunited with their families. #KeepTheFaith