When Judge Head called the mistrial, in the first court martial, it was over the strong objection of Ehren’s counsel, and initially against the wishes of the prosecution. After going behind closed doors the prosecution emerged, requested a mistrial, mistrial was granted. Eric Seitz, Ehren’s attorney said at that time that it was his opinion that he could not be tried again because it would be a clear case of double jeopardy.
Judge Settle agreed, the mistrial was mishandled by the military, and just because they blew it, they don’t get a second chance.
When the military pursued a second court martial, Ehren appealed all the way up to the highest military court on double jeopardy grounds and lost. Then last October, his new attorneys appealed in Federal Court to Judge Settle, a former JAG prosecuting attorney himself. In November Judge Settle handed down a temporary injunction.
Ehren has been cleared of being retried for the counts he faced in the first court martial. However, this time around the military added back in the two counts of conduct unbecoming (the interviews with Olson and Jamail) and did not offer the same deal to stipulate. So now Judge Settle has left it up to the military to appeal his ruling as well as continue on concerning those two counts.
Although Ehren’s commission was up over a year ago, the military has not released him. He still reports to his desk job at Fort Lewis. Furthermore, he is still confined to travel no further than a 150 mile radius of Fort Lewis.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SEATTLE (AP) — The Army can’t retry a Fort Lewis-based Iraq war objector on
several key charges because that would violate the soldier’s constitutional
protection against double jeopardy, a federal judge ruled late Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle of Tacoma said the government could
not retry 1st Lt. Ehren Watada on charges of missing his unit’s deployment to
Iraq in June 2006 and for denouncing President Bush and the war.
for the same charges, Settle held.
”We’re very pleased. It’s taken a long time.”
two other conduct unbecoming an officer charges against Watada, opening the
door to further court proceedings. Both of those charges involve public
interviews Watada gave to reporters.
Settle said the military court should consider whether there are
”constitutional defects” to retrying Watada on those charges before a civil court
commanding general, Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., had not yet had a chance to
review the ruling in depth.
forward with this case,” the spokesman said.
Watada contended that the war is illegal and that he would be a party to war
crimes if he served in Iraq. His first court-martial ended in a mistrial in
On Tuesday, Settle agreed, noting that the trial judge ”did not exercise
sound discretion” when he failed to determine whether a mistrial was
Thanks to Robin for supplying the above info and writing the intro.