Friday, June 13, 2014

Memo to military prosecutors: think twice before having defense counsel's office searched for evidence

This story from Marine Corps Times (a private publication) gives a sense of the bad things that can happen when prosecutors cause defense counsel's offices to be searched for evidence:
Maj. Ray Slabbekorn was transferred this month from his post as senior trial counsel for Camp Pendleton to a position within the Marines’ complex trial team for the West Coast, officials said.
In a June 10 ruling, military judge Lt. Col. Chris Thielemann found that the search on defense offices, instigated and overseen by the prosecution, constituted apparent unlawful command influence, meaning that a casual observer would have reason to believe the government had unduly interfered with the legal process, creating a potential disadvantage for defendants in ongoing cases.
Thielemann also disqualified Slabbekorn from participation in the case of Sgt. Ricardo Miramontes — an unrelated sex assault case proceeding this week with casefiles kept in the searched offices — and ordered that Slabbekorn not discuss the case with his legal team. Sources said judges have handed down similar rulings in two other cases with upcoming trial dates.
Editor's note: thanks to Phil Cave's Facebook post for the link. 

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