Welcome to day four of our week-long Free Raven 23 Fact Series: What You Should Know About the Raven 23 Case. In today’s post, we address why the Raven 23 convictions are wrong.
However, before we do, we want to give you some background on who we are. We, like many of you, are people who believe in our justice system. And Dustin, Evan, Nick, and Paul more than just believe: they dedicated their entire adult lives to fighting for the ideals that make us a free nation, and then they went back into harm’s way in support of the Department of State’s mission to help bring those same ideals to the Iraqi people. While we firmly believe that 12 civilians had no business judging actions in a war-zone, and while we disagree with the verdict those civilians ultimately reached, no one involved in the fight to free Raven 23 takes our justice system lightly. That is why we cannot emphasize enough that our fight to free the men we love is not based on a simple disagreement with the jury’s view of the evidence. We fight because the jury did not hear the truth, and justice cannot exist divorced from the truth.
Though the list of rights violations and erroneous legal rulings is long, here are just a few of the reasons Dustin, Evan, Nick, and Paul’s convictions are wrong: Critically, a post-verdict revelation by a key government witness proves that the entire theory of the DOJ’s case was based on perjured testimony and, even worse, that the DOJ should have known this from the beginning. In addition to basing its entire theory of the case on a lie, the DOJ also suppressed exculpatory evidence (enemy shell casings) and somehow convinced the judge to allow it to introduce the testimony of witnesses who readily admitted that their religion allows them to lie where infidels (our men) are concerned. These significant rights violations of knowingly presenting false testimony and suppressing exculpatory evidence are some of the worst that can occur during a criminal prosecution. Even standing alone, they establish that there can be no confidence in the jury’s verdict. However, there is so much more.
The DOJ also vindictively pursued a murder charge against Nick Slatten, while at the same time hiding from Nick’s jury a statement that entirely exonerates him. And, the DOJ convinced a judge who stated if he “believed” the law he would have to dismiss the case to incorrectly instruct the jury on key issues such as jurisdiction and to decide key factual issues as a matter of law that should have been decided by the jury. The same judge also wrongly denied motions for a judgment of acquittal filed by Nick Slatten (there is no evidence Nick shot, let alone murdered, the driver of the white Kia) and Evan Liberty (there is no evidence Evan even shot in the direction of any alleged victim). Some of these violations require the complete reversal of the Raven 23 convictions, while others, at the very least, require a new trial.
At this point, you might be thinking that there is nothing else the DOJ could have done to violate these men’s rights. However, you’d be wrong. Underscoring that it has absolutely no respect for the laws of our country, the DOJ misapplied a federal weapons law to secure 30-year mandatory minimum prison sentences against Dustin, Evan, and Paul based solely on the type of government-issued weapons they were required to carry. In other words, under the DOJ’s view of American law, service to this country is an aggravating, rather than mitigating, factor at sentencing. It is rights violations like these that led heavy hitters like the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”) to support the complete reversal of the Raven 23 convictions. To read more about why the Raven 23 Convictions are wrong, including the NACDL’s brief, visit our appeal page.
We look forward to seeing you back here tomorrow when we address one of the toughest subjects: the victims of Nisur Square.