Thursday, April 29, 2010

From the sound of this, the feds case didn't impress the judge too much

A federal judge challenged prosecutors Wednesday to show that nine members of a Michigan militia accused of plotting war against the government had done more than just talk and should remain locked up.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts heard nearly 10 hours of testimony and arguments over two days. She did not make a decision about whether the nine will remain in custody, saying only that a ruling would come soon.
An undercover agent infiltrated the group and secretly made recordings that have been played in court. While there is talk about killing police, it's not specific. In one conversation, there are many people talking over each other and laughing.

Roberts pressed that point more than once as Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet argued in favor of keeping the nine in jail. The judge suggested she didn't hear or read in the transcripts any indication that violence was imminent.

"Mere presence where a crime may be planned is not a crime. ... How does this add up to seditious conspiracy?" Roberts said.

Waterstreet said the government is not required to show all its evidence at this early stage of the case
(The judge must have loved being basically told "You don't get to see all our stuff"). He referred to the words of militia leader David Stone, 44, of Clayton, Mich., who was recorded by the undercover agent while they drove to Kentucky earlier this year.

"It's now time to strike and take our nation back so that we may be free again from tyranny. Time is up," Waterstreet said, quoting a transcript.

Later, putting the transcript aside, the prosecutor said: "The theme is the brotherhood is the enemy - all law enforcement."

Now, the obvious question that comes to mind is "What is the context of that remark? What was the course of the conversation?" Very damned important in determining what that statement means. Of course, we don't have that; I'd be very interested to see the rest of the transcript of that conversation. I wonder if the judge got to read it?

As to the 'talk about killing police', over at Tam's there was a discussion in comments about the People's Republic of Maryland StasiState Police clown who got himself in the news; some of the talk noted that in some places, jumping out of an unmarked car in plain clothes with a drawn gun could get you shot or run over; want to bet prosecutor Waterstreet would consider that evidence of 'planning to kill cops' if someone in the discussion was charged with something?

I repeat: the Hutaree members may be first-class assholes and dangerous, or they may not; it's the job of the government to prove that they broke the law, and if this stuff so far is what their evidence is comprised of, their case sucks. And if this is the level of evidence, the feds may have screwed a bunch of people over for the sake of a bunch of headlines over a lousy or nonexistent case. And if the latter, anyone want to bet whether some of the feds involved were making political points too?

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