Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Pentagon sets rules for detainee trials – Yahoo! News

The Pentagon has drafted a manual for upcoming detainee trials that would allow suspected terrorists to be convicted on hearsay evidence and coerced testimony and imprisoned or put to death.

Well, that explains why they drafted it in secret and chose not to put up a rough draft for public comment as is commonly the case (although not legally required) for rules of this type.

Full text of the manual is now online, but I have not had a chance to read it yet.

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2 Responses to Truth, Justice, and the American Way

  1. Denny Crane says:

    As a law professor, I think you owe your general readership the courtesy of downplaying the hearsay element. The American criminal justice system allows for the admission of hearsay evidence and such is used to obtain convictions every single day in trials across this great land. It is the single most misunderstood legal concept by the American public. But not by me, Denny Crane. As a practical matter exclusion of hearsay evidence is the exception rather than the norm. Many other fair systems of law admit hearsay, but parties may of course challenge its reliability. Denny Crane.

    Certain types of “coerced” statements are also admissible, Miranda notwithstanding, so long as the circumstances surrounding them tend not to negate their reliability. Denny Crane.

    Maybe those lads in gitmo aren’t getting any worse a shake than the folks on trial for an ounce of weed in Miami-Dade. Anyway, why don’t you read the manual and get back to me soldier.

    Who loves ya babe?
    Denny Crane

  2. I disagree with Mr. Crane’s assessment of the application of the hearsay rules. FRE 802 applies in a myriad of ways that serves to keep more information out of proceedings than it lets in. This all notwithstanding the 25 or so exceptions. Ideally, the hearsay rule operates to insure that admissible statements are trustworthy because they are subject to cross examination and hte oath of affirmation. While I don’t entirely disagree with Mr. Crane’s second statement, it is important to point out that Miranda and its progeny operate to insure that coerced statements, elicited solely through nefarious means for incriminating purposes, are not admissible against a defendant.

    The new provisions that amend the UCMJ place no restrictions on the admissibility of hearsay and coerced testimony. A wide open policy on the collection and use of information against a defendant debases the policy of due process. This kind of policy is particularly dangerous when it is applied to American Citizens.

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