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General News

Military Judge Runs A Shell Game

By       Message William Boardman     Permalink
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Turning to Reader Supported News's motion, without identifying it beyond "the request for public access or in the alternative motion to intervene to vindicate right to public access," Judge Col. Lind made findings: 

 

"One. The proceedings have been open to the public since the start of the trial"." 

 

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This may be technically correct and short of a false statement, but it suggests a non-existent state of affairs sharply at odds with the widely-observed restraints put on public access by the judge, the government, or its contractors.  "The court martial of Manning," observed the Huffington Post, "has been  surrounded by secrecy and security ." 

 

An example of what amounts to military doublespeak is that the court says it's not "structured" to provide a daily transcript, as if that wasn't something other courts do and the Army could do if it wanted to.  Worse, even though the Freedom of the Press Foundation is paying for its own stenographers, the judge continues to tolerate interference with the stenographers' ability to do their job. 

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"Two. Neither the court nor anyone acting pursuant to order of the court has specifically excluded any person from observing the proceedings either in court or in a designated overflow area." 

 

One might argue that this is another technically correct statement in the furtherance of falsehood, but it's more deceitful that that.  Dozens if not hundreds of members of the public have been excluded, by apparent design, either implemented or tolerated by the court. 

 

But they have not been "specifically" excluded and that "specifically" has a serious lawyerly purpose in the worst sense of the word.  Rule 806(b)(1) says, in part: "When excluding specific persons, the military judge must make findings on the record establishing the reason for the exclusion, the basis for the military judge's belief that exclusion is necessary, and that the exclusion is as narrowly tailored as possible." 

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Here, where the court is allowing large-scale, random exclusions there's no need for findings on the record of the basis for the exclusion, or concern that the exclusion is narrowly tailored.  The exclusion is not narrowly tailored and thus gives the appearance of bad faith. 

 

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)
 

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