Monday, December 18, 2006

How hard is it to keep track of exhibits in murder cases?

The CAAF Daily Journal provides another example in a long history of N-M murder cases where the government can't seem to keep track of their own evidence. This case would be the recent murder case of U.S. v. Fuhrman, a not so nice chapter in the history of U.S. - Korean relations. Combine this with the recent decision in U.S. v. Quintanilla, where the trial counsel stole the murder weapon, and I think someone needs some remedial courses on evidence custody. Isn't keeping the evidence the surest way to guarantee a conviction stands even if the accused wins his appeals? If anyone knows, and can divulge the answer without having to kill me, I would be interested to know if Prosecution Exhibits 22 and 23 are actual exhibits and what they are, other than missing, because the court below referred to them only as potentially classified exhibits held in the WNYD SCIF (and some other not so descriptive words about how the documents were sezied).


Jason Grover said...

I was not counsel on the case, but from looking at unclassifed pleadings, I believe the ROT is missing the actual exhibits. But it has descriptions of the exhibits that the government claims are the actual exhibits. Confused yet? For instance, I believe one of the descriptions refers to matters found on Fuhrman - highly unlikely that the original exhibit that was the subject of the mishandling classified information charge included a section on how Fuhrman was mishandling it. I also believe that the exhibits are TS/SCI.
This case definitely joins the list of ill-considered rosecutions. Why the government even bothered with the classified information charges is a good question. The reason that Fuhrman is in trouble is for killing two people. By adding some mishandling charges, the government has only made things more complicated.

Guert Gansevoort said...

After placing a few calls, I have been informed by Lieutenant Kadlec that prosecution exhibits 22 and 23 are in fact the TS/SCI documents that Petty Officer Fuhrman was charged and convicted of mishandling. The government has now lost them and is unwilling to reduce Petty Officer Fuhrman's fifty-year sentence to six months as required for cases not involving a verbatim transcript.

What is interesting about this case is that the government submitted a ten-day letter this past July. Why is the C.A.A.F. ordering the government to answer the Supp instead of granting the issues in the case? And what will be the government's answer to why the convening authority did not mail the record of trial for two years? Were they looking for the lost classified documents?