Balkinization  

Thursday, December 14, 2006

U.S. Government: You can't believe Padilla when he says we tortured him because he's crazy from all the things we did to him

JB

The New York Times reports that the government supports the defendant's motion for a competency hearing to determine whether Jose Padilla is fit to stand trial. Normally, the prosecution tends to oppose such hearings, because they allow the defendant to escape punishment. But in Orwellian world of the Padilla case, the government doesn't really mind. After all, if Padilla were found competent, one might also have to believe his allegations of torture at the hands of the U.S. government:
The government itself cited the affidavit of a psychiatrist for the defense, Dr. Angela Hegarty, who said that Mr. Padilla did not understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him and that he suffered "impairment in reasoning" as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder "complicated by the effects of prolonged isolation."

Mr. Padilla’s lawyers said he opposed this request that his competency be evaluated. Dr. Hegarty, one of two mental health professionals who examined him, said Mr. Padilla was "fearful of being thought of as crazy." She described him as "hypervigilant," his eyes darting about, his face twitching into grimaces, his "startle response" on constant high alert.

. . . .

Now the issue of determining Mr. Padilla’s competency could freeze many matters. For instance, his lawyers have asked Judge Marcia G. Cooke of Federal District Court to dismiss the charges because of "pre-indictment delay" — Mr. Padilla was apprehended in May 2002 and indicted in November 2005 — because of failure to provide a speedy trial and because of "outrageous government conduct."

Judge Cooke set a hearing date for Monday to address these motions. But the government said yesterday that it would be pointless to discuss accusations of government misconduct based on Mr. Padilla’s word if his competence was in question. The government vehemently denies that Mr. Padilla was mistreated in military custody.

Comments:

I am unclear how this can fail to work in Padilla's favor, if it means he gets to subpoena records. That, of course, is the trick. He'll be required to defend his competence without recourse to proof of what events might have lead to a condition from which his competence is challenged. He could "lose" the competence issue and still "win" the more important battle...if the crimes against this citizen were established as a matter of public record.

What is at stake here? Really? Nothing less than lancing the boil of the whole patchwork of illegal and immoral acts taken by this administration under cover of "war" on terror. If not via the Padilla case, then when?

And before our right-wing vandals weigh in, let me ask if "inalienable" is an absolute with respect to a citizen's rights? Or are these absolutes y'all claim to believe in really more a matter of expedience after all?
 

"Sure, I can ground Orr. But he has to ask me to"
"That's all he has to do to be grounded?"
"That's all. Let him ask me."
"And then you can ground him? Yossarian asked"
"No. Then I can't ground him."
"You mean there's a catch?"
"Sure, there is a catch, Doc Daneeka replied. Catch-22. Anyone who want's to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy"

The administration doesn't even pretend anymore not to follow Joseph Heller's guidelines. Remember Catch-22: We can do everything you cannot stop us from doing...
 

Good point Anne. Padilla has been "Hell-erized" by George W's administration.
 

The defense has proven to be less that brilliant in its arguments to date and is again being raised on its own petard by the Government.

The defense initially filed this motion to dismiss without the benefit of any affidavits or other supporting evidence.

After the Government's response brief pointed out the utter lack of evidence presented by the defense and punched holes in most of the defense argument, the defense shifted gears in its reply and presented affidavits like that of Dr. Hagerty claiming that the defendant was incompetent to participate in his own defense.

Naturally, the Government, as is their right, demanded that one of their own doctors examine the defendant to determine whether he actually is incompetent to stand trial. All of the sudden the defense team gets all defensive and objects to an examination. What they heck did the defense think was going to be the Government's response to their incompetence claims? This is a standard request. Is the defense afraid of what the Government's doctor will not find or are they building up a case for a future appeal by defendant claiming incompetent counsel?
 

Bart, you are the only one who cannot bring himself to ask him self what the consequences of the government's arguments can be. You can only stick to the point that Padilla must be guilty, because the government says so. I'll check Catch-22 for the right quote. But believe me that some Major concludes that Clevinger is guilty. Of what he askes? We'll think of something.
 

Anne said...

Bart, you are the only one who cannot bring himself to ask him self what the consequences of the government's arguments can be. You can only stick to the point that Padilla must be guilty, because the government says so.

Quite to the contrary.

You may have missed this, but Padilla's counsel are not seeking to dismiss the indictment based on a lack of evidence to go to trial under the charges, nor do they claim that the evidence against Padilla was gained illegally and is inadmissible.

Rather, Padilla's counsel first made an argument unsupported by law or evidence that Padilla should be released because of alleged "torture."

After the government shredded that argument with binding 11th Circuit case law, the defense shifted their tack to claim that Padilla was incompetent because of the alleged "torture." However, the defense is so confident in their latest argument that they are opposing examination of their client by a government doctor.

I have no idea whether Padilla is guilty of what the government accused him nor have I ever claimed he is guilty. I have not seen the evidence and, more importantly, the cross examination of that evidence. However, after seeing the flailingly desperate defense preliminary motions, I am getting the feeling the government case may be stronger than the press is implying.
 

BdP: I am getting the feeling the government case may be stronger than the press is implying.

Right. And tell us again, exactly why did the government shift venue and finally get around to charging P as a criminal after so very long? Because their case in the other venue was so very air-tight? Sure, we all buy that, really we do. BTW, you very much owe a response on the ACLU thread about your stand on the morality of inciting hate motivated violence.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

After the government shredded that argument with binding 11th Circuit case law, the defense shifted their tack to claim that Padilla was incompetent because of the alleged "torture." However, the defense is so confident in their latest argument that they are opposing examination of their client by a government doctor.

"Bart" has never heard of "arguing in the alternative". Surprising for a lawyer.... But I see no sign that the defence has dropped their claim that the torture was beyond the bounds of legitimate behaviour and that the prosecution should nt be premitted to continue.

But "Bart" needs to catch up on his reading: It is Padilla that is resisting a competency determination (and for similar reasons to why many people resist such), not the lawyers.

Cheers,
 

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