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Watada Mistrial – Didn’t Know What He Signed

From the Tacoma (WA) News Tribune:

Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, on the video monitor at left, is shown making a recorded statement outlining his refusal to deploy to Iraq in this June 7, 2006. Looking on at right is Lou Lehmann, a member of the Veterans for Peace group.

Mistrial declared in Watada court martial

ADAM LYNN; The News Tribune
February 7th, 2007

The military judge presiding over the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada declared a mistrial early this afternoon after prosecutors huddled and agreed they wanted one.

Lt. Col. John Head, who is presiding over the proceedings at Fort Lewis, set a new date of March 19. But Watada’s civilian attorney, Eric Seitz of Honolulu, said that he had other commitments around that time.

It could be summer before charges are refiled and court action resumes.

Head threw out the basis for the Army’s case right after lunch and asked prosecutors if they wanted him to declare a mistrial. Prosecutors took 30 minutes and decided they did.

At issue was a stipulation of facts that Watada signed earlier this week. In it, he admitted to a set of facts, including that he had a duty to board the plane that carried his unit to Iraq last June but that he intentionally missed the flight.

Questions over the “duty” portion arose this morning, causing Head to question Watada about the stipulation.

Under direct questioning from Head, Watada said he did not believe he had a legal duty to board the plane because he thinks the war is illegal.

“No, I did not believe I had that duty,” Watada said.

Head then ruled over the arguments of prosecutors that Watada’s statement today invalidated the earlier stipulation of facts upon which the case is based. Head said he had no choice but to throw it out.

“I don’t see how I can continue to accept (the stipulation) as we stand here now,” said the judge, who had called Watada’s original agreement a tacit confession to missing movement.

“You have to treat it essentially like a guilty plea because he admits to all the facts surrounding the offense,” the judge said.

He then threw out the stipulation…

This stipulation doesn’t seem to be the first document Mr. Watada has signed without comprehending its meaning. Or more likely, that he’s decided he doesn’t want to honor.

So now there will be another trial. With the taxpayer paying for Mr. Watada’s and his lawyers’ stupidity.

Of course Mr. Watada figures he will get a better turnout of demonstrators if he waits until next summer.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, February 7th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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