21 December 2005

Government Rebuffed In Padilla Case

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a government request to transfer Jose Padilla from a military brig to an ordinary jail for a federal criminal prosecution outside of military authority in Miami, Florida, while Padilla's case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Basically, the 4th Circuit said that it appears that the government has been lying to the courts all along in this case, and if this isn't true, that they haven't come clean with the Court about what has happened. It has not appreciated government high handedness and gamesmanship in the handling of the litigation, and wants to give the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to consider the case which it rightly recognizes as a case of great national importance.

This puts the Miami indictment on ice, and further complicates already complicated speedy trial issues in that case. (The issue is when you start calculating speedy trial deadlines for someone who has been extrajudicially incarcerated for somewhat related reasons for three and a half years.) Padilla himself can't be entirely thrilled about spending more time in a military brig and potentially not even getting out of the military brig ever if the government changes its tune. But, if he ends up exonerated in the U.S. Supreme Court, a few more months may be worth it, since he won't have enemy combatant detention hanging over his head in plea negotiations. Counting noses, I have a hard time seeing the government prevail in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Padilla case, but if the Alito nomination is confirmed in the Senate, that calculus could change.

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