Dirty Deeds - Judge Refuses to Sever Nick's 1st Degree Murder Case

For those of you who've looked at Nick's individual brief (available on the Appeal page of the website), you'll see that portions of his second issue (pages 36-46) are redacted. From the unredacted portions, however, it is clear that Nick's argument involves the trial court's refusal to sever his trial so Nick could introduce the statements of a codefendant that exculpated him, i.e., that show Nick is not guilty of murdering the driver of the Kia. Indeed, the joint brief states (on page 8) that "Slatten challenges the district court's refusal to sever his trial to allow him to use part of a Defendant's [meaning one of the joint defendant's] compelled statements in his defense, when the Fifth Amendment prohibited use of those compelled statements in a joint trial."

Certainly, this person has a constitutional right not to have his immunized statements used against him (and regardless of what those statements said, however justified the conduct described in those statements truthfully was, the government would have found a way to twist them and use them against that person). The constitution absolutely prohibits this, as it should, and that person was unquestionably correct to stand on his rights.

Nick, however, also has constitutional rights, namely the right to due process, to defend himself and present his jury with exculpatory evidence. From what you can read in the brief, it's obvious that the statements that were hidden from the jury (and that are still hidden from all of us to this day) are highly exculpatory to Nick. Nick's brief describes them as "critical exculpatory evidence," and the joint brief makes the observation that this evidence, the very evidence that was so critical to Nick receiving a fair trial, is "not part of the trial record" and cannot be used against the codefendant whose statements are at issue in Nick's appeal. So, it's HUGELY important, clearly critical of the truth of what happened out there that day.

Faced with two defendants who have competing constitutional rights, the legal answer is simple: sever their trials so each is protected. Let the exculpatory evidence come in for Nick in a separate trial; keep it out in the joint trial to protect his codefendant's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

So, what happened? Lamberth ruled the statements were inadmissible under a bogus application of the hearsay rule (as you can read in Nick's brief) after stating (BEFORE he'd even heard argument on the issue), "I can almost guarantee I am not trying this case twice." (Page 37 of Nick's brief). Constitution be damned, TRUTH be damned, when you're in the courtroom of a judge who, in his own words from the excerpts of the brief from Candy Alice Barr's post, simply doesn't "believe[]" the law and had previously stated, on the record, that the Iraqis had already waited too long for justice.

So, if anyone out there still thinks these decorated veterans received a constitutionally-sound, fair trial, then you need to start reading the briefs and the record in this case. Failing that, you need to stop getting your information from publications like The New York Times, whose editorial board has said the following about the deplorable massacre of justice that occurred in this case: "By bringing some of the Blackwater gunmen to justice, the American government has taken an important, if belated step toward making amends" with Iraq for events that will "forever tarnish[]" the "legacy of the United States' war in Iraq." Maybe that's what some people think, maybe most people don't care, but everyone should because, while political appeasement may have won the day at the trial court level and in the mind of the majority of the public, it did so at the cost of the truth and at the cost of our constitution. Politics also won at the cost of the freedom of four honorable men who could have easily have been any one of the many of you who've served downrange or someone the rest of you love. I hope the appellate court has more respect for our legacy here in America than to rubber stamp convictions obtained at the cost of everything this country is supposed to stand for. ‪#‎FreeRaven23‬!