Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cuban Spy panel discussion

The panel discussion Thursday evening regarding the Cuban Spy opinion was very interesting. The panelists -- Judge Edward Davis, Judge Stan Blake, Federal Defender Kathy Williams, and former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis -- were engaging and lively. The most contentious issue seemed to focus around the last paragraph of the opinion. Even the audience seemed vocally upset about it. This is what the Court said:

The court is aware that, for many of the same reasons
discussed above, the reversal of these convictions will
be unpopular and even offensive to many citizens.
However, the court is equally mindful that those same
citizens cherish and support the freedoms they enjoy
in this country that are unavailable to residents of
Cuba. One of our most sacred freedoms is the right to
be tried fairly in a noncoercive atmosphere. The court
is cognizant that its judgment today will be received
by those citizens with grave disappointment, but is
equally confident of our shared commitment to
scrupulously protect our freedoms. The Cuban-
American community is a bastion of the traditional
values that make America great. Included in those
values are the rights of the accused criminal that
insure a fair trial. Thus, in the final analysis, we trust
that any disappointment with our judgment in this
case will be tempered and balanced by the recognition
that we are a nation of laws in which every defendant,
no matter how unpopular, must be treated fairly. Our
Constitution requires no less.

The sentiment was that this language was offensive and that there was no reason to include it. Kathy defended the court's language (as I think she had to -- she is representing one of the defendants in the on-going litigation), arguing that each sentence in that paragraph was true and complimentary.

It does seem to me strange that it was included in the opinion. Query as to whether it would have been included if the defendants were African-American or Jewish. I doubt it. So why include it here? Thoughts?

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