Judge Sullivan Is On a Tear

Fresh out of the Stevens debacle, Sullivan is blasting the Gitmo prosecutors:

The government’s case against Batarfi relies on statements from another detainee, who it turns out has repeatedly received psychiatric treatment, calling his credibility into question. A month ago, after it became clear Batarfi’s defense team was not informed of the other detainee’s medical history, Sullivan ordered the government to turn over all medical records to the defense.

According to court documents, Sullivan directed the government to explain “why the Government and its attorneys should not be held in contempt of court” for failing to comply with court orders that could help shed light on Batarfi, a doctor accused by the Justice Department of being a Taliban or Al Qaeda member.

Note: If you are a lawyer, being held in contempt by a Federal judge is a Very Bad Thing.

“To hide relevant and exculpatory evidence from counsel and from the court under any circumstances, particularly here where there is no other means to discover this information and where the stakes are so very high … is fundamentally unjust, outrageous and will not be tolerated,” Sullivan said during a hearing last week, according to the McClatchy newspaper service. “I’ll tell you quite frankly if I have to start incarcerating people to get my point across I’m going to start at the top.

Can I get a “Hell yeah!!!”?

I don’t think that the Gitmo cases belong in our courts.  I think that they belong in military courts.  However, that stand has lost, both in the courts and in the electorate.  Elections have consequences.  I don’t like it, but that is the way it has to be.  America chose, and it is time to live with it.

Prosecutoral misconduct is rampant, endemic and ubiquitous, just like police misconduct.  The whole damned system is rotten from the top to the bottom.  The only way that is going to change is if judges and the People stop putting up with it.

“Whether you are a public official, a private citizen, or a Guantanamo Bay detainee, the proscecution — indeed the U.S. government must produce exculpatory evidence so that justice shall be done,” Sullivan said Tuesday, before dismissing the charges against Stevens, a Republican from Alaska. “The importance of these obligations cannot be overstated.”

The proscution doesn’t have a reponsibility to figure out who is guilty or innocent and then railroad the guilty through the system.  Our system is designed to avoid jailing the innocent, even at the expense of making it easier for the guilty to go free.  That’s a feature, not a bug.  That can’t work if prosecutors sit on evidence just because it makes the guy look innocent.  Maybe it looks like he is innocent because he is innocent.  Whether or not that is true isn’t the prosecutors’ job to figure out.  That job belongs to the jury or the judge.

Sullivan had a message for his fellow judges, lawmakers, the Attorney General and even President Obama.

He urged his “judicial colleagues to be vigilant” and Attorney General Eric Holder to require training for new and veteran prosecutors across the country. Plus, he said, “I urge the president and the Attorney General, as they select new U.S. Attorneys, to obtain from those appointees their commitments to fulfilling these important obligations. And indeed the Senate confirmation process should also address these most improtant prosecutoroial obligations.”

They aren’t going to listen until they see someone from thier side of the courtroom on the other side.  They don’t think that they are above the law — they think that they are the law.

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