Sunday, November 22, 2020

COVID-19 and military justice (Guantánamo)

A first for GITMO: a classified hearing conducted by videolink. Carol Rosenberg has the story of "Zoom Court" here in The New York Times.
There were plenty of complications. The judge, who was assigned to the case during the pandemic, has never set foot in the actual courtroom at Camp Justice, or held an open session or seen Mr. Hadi to advise him of his rights at the start of a hearing. Defense lawyers on one side of the 1,300-mile divide between Washington and the naval base could not consult during the hearing with those on the other. The same was true for prosecutors. The lawyers at Guantánamo had to first undergo a 14-day, military-monitored and enforced quarantine inside individual trailers at the base. But the fact of the hearing on Tuesday marked a watershed. No judge in the slow-moving, troubled military commissions cases had ever presided remotely from a satellite location in the United States. It was also the first hearing of the pandemic after months of cancellations by military judges. All of the lawyers in the U.S. courtroom — whose location was secret — spoke through masks, according to participants. At Guantánamo, a prosecutor and defense lawyer took theirs off when each spoke from the lectern opposite the judge’s empty chair.

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