New Government Report: United States of America v. Paul A. Slough et al, Defendants: Ruling on the Case against Former Blackwater Security Guards

August 3, 2010 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

United States of America v. Paul A. Slough et al, Defendants: Ruling on the Case against Former Blackwater Security Guards
by Ricardo M. Urbina
Paperback, 90 pages, 2009, ISBN: 1437927750, $30.00

The sudden blow to the case against the former Blackwater security guards over a shooting that killed 17 Iraqis and wounded at least 20 may have come as a surprise to the public in Iraq and the United States, but the legal problem that the judge cited Thursday when he threw out the indictments was obvious to American government lawyers within days of the shooting, reports the New York Times.

This government report contains the ruling by Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District court in Washington, DC, on the case against former Blackwater security guards in Iraq over a shooting that killed 17 Iraqis and wounded at least 20.

Judge Ricardo threw out the indictments against the guards. In his opinion: “The defendants have been charged with voluntary manslaughter and firearms violations arising out of a shooting that occurred in Baghdad, Iraq on Sept. 16, 2007.

“They contend that in the course of this prosecution, the government violated their constitutional rights by utilizing statements they made to Deptartment of State investigators, which were compelled under a threat of job loss.

“The government has acknowledged that many of these statements qualify as compelled statements under Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967), which held that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination bars the government from using statements compelled under a threat of job loss in a subsequent criminal prosecution.

“The Fifth Amendment automatically confers use and derivative use immunity on statements compelled under Garrity; this means that in seeking an indictment from a grand jury or a conviction at trial, the government is prohibited from using such compelled statements or any evidence obtained as a result of those statements.

“The government has also acknowledged that its investigators, prosecutors and key witnesses were exposed to (and, indeed, aggressively sought out) many of the statements given by the defendants to State Deptartment investigators.

“Under the binding precedent of the Supreme Court, the burden fell to the government to prove that it made no use whatsoever of these immunized statements or that any such use was harmless beyond any reasonable doubt.

“In short, the government has utterly failed to prove that it made no impermissible use of the defendants’ statements or that such use was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the court must dismiss the indictment against all of the defendants.”

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