In a stunning defeat for military prosecutors, Lt. Col. John Head, the military judge presiding over Watada’s court-martial, said he had no choice but to declare a mistrial because military prosecutors and Watada’s defense attorney could not reach an agreement regarding the characterization of a stipulation agreement Watada signed before the start of his court-martial.
Oh happy days. A judge who can find a legal technicality to bring this injustice to an end.
Lt. Col. Head said he wanted to question Watada regarding the agreement to gain a better understanding of what Watada’s state of mind was when he signed it, but Seitz would not allow the judge to question his client unless he knew the questions in advance. Head said if he could not question Watada to ensure the accuracy of the document he signed prior to the start of the court-martial, he would have to throw out the agreement, meaning the charges against Watada would become null and void.
And the just desserts:
Head excoriated military prosecutors in open court for producing the stipulation agreement hours before he declared the mistrial. He said he would allow the government to reopen the case against Watada, but it’s unclear whether the military will do so. Even if the case is reopened, it could be months before it ends up in court.
Give that judge a medal.
UPDATE: Seattle Post-Intelligencer weighs in.