[Ppnews] Daniel McGowan et al in court on August 22nd - legal update

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 11 08:36:01 EDT 2006



From: Family + Friends of Daniel McG <friendsofdanielmcg at yahoo.com>

Brief Legal Update
Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan
August 8, 2006

Daniel will be in court on Tuesday August 22 for a hearing on a motion
filed by the defense related to government surveillance of the
defendants.  The defendants are asking the court to order the government to
obtain and turn over any secret, warrantless surveillance, including any
surveillance done by the NSA. There will also be arguments heard on whether
or not the transcripts from the plea hearings last month and plea
agreements of cooperating witnesses will be unsealed.

It should be an important and interesting hearing so we are asking for your
attendance. All four non-cooperating defendants in the Oregon
case  [Daniel, Jonathan Paul, Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher] will be in
attendance for this hearing and there will be discussions on the pending
trial date and whether it will be postponed.

The hearing is set before Judge Aiken at 9:30AM at Eugene Federal Courthouse.
Please dress/act appropriately and be on time.
Also, the Eugene Weekly printed the article below in response to the
sealing of plea agreements and open court hearing transcripts in the case
last month.

thanks,
Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan

http://www.supportdaniel.org
http://eugeneweekly.com/2006/08/10/news.html#1

SECRET JUSTICE

After six alleged eco-arsonists pleaded guilty last month, the judge in
the case took the unusual step of quickly ordering all the documents and
transcripts of the public hearings sealed.

On Aug. 2 attorneys for one of the seven remaining defendants headed for
trial told the judge, "not so fast." In a motion, the attorneys for Daniel
McGowan asked federal Judge Ann Aiken to unseal the documents, citing the
Constitution and centuries of tradition and precedent for open trials.
"Our nation inherited England's ancient tradition of open, public
proceedings," attorneys Amanda Lee and Jeff Robinson wrote. "Among the many
justifications for ensuring public access to court records are maintaining
the public's confidence in the fairness and independence of the judiciary
and the criminal justice system."

While select reporters at The Oregonian and The Register-Guard were tipped
off to the plea hearings, the attorneys said they were not notified by the
court or prosecutors, weren't able to attend and were denied the
transcripts and documents.

The attorneys cited numerous case precedents to support their argument that
sealing the court records violates constitutional rights to open
information and a fair and open trial under the First and Sixth Amendments.
Many of the cases cited were brought by newspapers seeking public information.
Judge Aiken sealed the documents without stating her reasons. The attorneys
for McGowan argued that the judge should have held a hearing on sealing the
documents and sealed them only if she could find a compelling, factual and
unavoidable need to do so.

"There is neither logic nor fairness" in effectively closing a proceeding
to other defense attorneys that was open to the media and public, the
attorneys argue. In some cases, prosecutors move to seal plea agreements to
protect witnesses and ongoing investigations, the attorneys noted. But the
government made no such argument in these cases, and it's already widely
known through the media and prosecutor statements that the plea agreements
required defendants to testify against other defendants, according to the
motion.

The media reported on what was said at the plea hearings, but, the
attorneys note, "The documents may contain material that was not revealed
in open court."

---Alan Pittman



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