NICK’S THIRD TRIAL UPDATE (Oct.-Dec. 2018)
After four days of deliberation, Nick Slatten’s third jury somehow reached a guilty verdict on December 19, 2018. It is impossible to explain how 12 people following the jury instructions they were given could justify that outcome to themselves in light of the overwhelming evidence of Nick’s innocence, but we are preparing for the fight ahead to address the erroneous legal rulings and prosecutorial misconduct that we believe tainted the proceedings, misled the jury, and caused them to reach a verdict that—if it stands—will send an innocent man to prison for the rest of his life. Before Nick can appeal this outcome, there are a few post-verdict proceedings that must occur in the trial court. If those proceedings do not result in the trial court’s granting relief (throwing out the case entirely or granting a new trial), then Nick will be sentenced, and only at that point will he be able to appeal. We anticipate that the appeal, if necessary, will be filed by summer 2019 and that it will take one to two years to work its way through the D.C. Circuit.
NICK'S SECOND TRIAL UPDATE (June-Sept. 2018)
In 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Nick Slatten’s wrongful conviction and ordered a new trial because evidence of his innocence was hidden from his jury. During Nick’s second trial, numerous additional ethical and rights violations by the government were revealed. Sensing defeat, in a desperate attempt to keep Nick’s jury from acquitting, the government prosecutor made highly inappropriate arguments during his rebuttal closing argument. It worked, as Nick’s second jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Weeks later, the government announced its intent to retry Nick a THIRD time.
EVAN, DUSTIN & PAUL'S RESENTENCING UPDATE (Timeline Unknown)
SCOTUS’s refusal to consider—and correct—the legal errors that led to unjust convictions and sentences of four decorated veterans means that Nick will be tried a third time (in October 2018) and Dustin, Evan, and Paul will be resentenced sometime after that. Although the date for the resentencing has not yet been set, Dustin, Evan, and Paul’s legal teams are currently hard at work putting together sentencing packages. A key element of their submissions will be letters—from family, friends, fellow soldiers, former teammates, anyone who knows the stellar characters of these men. If you know them and would like to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
SCOTUS DECISION UPDATE (MAY 14, 2018):
After the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals failed to deliver true justice for all four men of Raven 23, the men asked the Supreme Court of the United States to take their case. We were hopeful that SCOTUS would intervene on the jurisdiction and venue issues, with the result being to free all four men or, at minimum, also order a new trial for Dustin, Evan, and Paul. Unfortunately, SCOTUS denied the petition. What this means, legally, for Dustin, Evan, and Paul is that their convictions are now final (except the one conviction of Evan’s which was overturned), and they will be resentenced. Although their fight to clear their names is not over, they face a long road, and the D.C. Circuit's decision makes it even harder for them to receive relief in the courts. Presidential intervention may be the most viable option for restoring their families.
DECISION UPDATE (AUGUST 9, 2017):
Last Friday, August 4, 2017, we received a decision from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. You can read it HERE. This is not the decision we had been praying for; it is not true justice. While Nick Slatten's conviction was rightly overturned due to statements proving his innocence being hidden from his jury, the government wrongly retains the right to retry him. It is not yet clear whether the government will continue to pursue Nick for a crime he did not commit. Either way, Nick has many more procedural hurdles to clear before he's home with his family. And so do Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Paul Slough. One of Evan's convictions was overturned, and the appeals court ordered that he, Dustin, and Paul be resentenced due to the government's misapplication of the federal weapons law to them (which is what carried the 30-year mandatory minimum sentence). If a resentencing occurs, our prayer is for time served, but that would be a miracle. We know from the last sentencing that the typical sentence would be more in the range of 10-15 years. However, we are not giving up. Before we go back before the trial court for resentencing, there are options to ask the entire D.C. Circuit to rehear the case; and there's always the Supreme Court of the United States. Less than a week from the decision, we are still weighing all the options with our defense team. Please check back here and sign up for our Free Raven 23 Newsletter to stay informed as we work our way through the complex legal process that stands in the way of restoring all four of our families. And, above all, please keep us in your prayers. #KeepTheFaith #FreeRaven23
ORAL ARGUMENT UPDATE:
Oral arguments were held in the Raven 23 appeal on January 17, 2017. Shockingly, government attorneys—for the first time in nearly a decade—stepped back from their “unprovoked massacre” theory of the case by acknowledging in open court that the ENEMY fired first. Just as shockingly, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to unseal statements that prove Nick Slatten’s innocence and opted instead to review these statements in a sealed courtroom. Even though Nick is fighting for his freedom in the dark, our defense team—backed by the esteemed non-profit, non-partisan National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers—remains confident that these unjust convictions will be overturned. As for us, we know Dustin, Evan, Nick, and Paul are innocent, so we keep the faith while we await a decision from the appellate court that could come at any time but that is conservatively expected before the court breaks for its summer recess.
Appeal filed 2/1/2016
After being convicted by a civilian jury not of their peers following a trial that consisted of some of the most egregious rights violations and erroneous legal rulings imaginable, decorated veterans and Department of State contractors Nick Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard are fighting for their freedom on appeal.
This page contains links to the briefs that explain why these men should be set free or, at the very least, receive a new trial. Within these pages, you will see for yourself just how far the United States government is willing to go in the name of political appeasement. Then, you will understand why we are fighting so hard to Free Raven 23.
Click each link to launch the documents in a new browser window.
But Nick, Paul, Evan, and Dustin’s attorneys are not the only ones fighting for their freedom in the courts. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a non-partisan professional bar association, received special permission from the appellate court to file an amicus brief and has argued that the Raven 23 convictions should be overturned. Read for yourself how this independent, respected organization that is on the front line of fighting for justice says the Raven 23 prosecution “should have never happened” and identifies some of the key examples of prosecutorial misconduct, gross abuses of judicial discretion, and blatant disregard for the rule of law that denied Nick, Paul, Evan, and Dustin a fair trial.