Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cuban Five and Abramoff news

The breaking news banner on CNN.com this morning is that Abramoff has agreed to a plea deal. Details when I find them out... (update -- here's the CNN article).

In other news, Julie Kay has written about the government's opposition to the amicus briefs filed in the Cuban Spy case. I previously posted about the fight here. Here's some of the article:

The latest twist in the high-profile case came last week when the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami filed a motion seeking to block the 11th Circuit’s acceptance of two amicus briefs filed by state and national legal organizations that oppose the government’s position. The motion sharply urged the 11th Circuit not to accept the briefs. Two days later, Ricardo Bascuas, a University of Miami law professor who authored one of the amicus briefs, filed a strongly worded reply opposing the government’s position and reiterating why amicus briefs should be allowed. “The important civil rights precedents discussed by amici curiae hold that the Sixth Amendment protects us all from convictions tainted by racial, ideological, religious, ethnic, or other irrational prejudice,” states the brief. “As distinguished criminal defense organizations, amici offer to assist the court by presenting the cases most pertinent to the fair treatment of unpopular defendants.” The amicus briefs were filed by the National Lawyers Guild, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Association of Federal Public Defenders and the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.... “Everyone plays to win, I guess,” Federal Assistant Public Defender Richard Klugh, who likely will be arguing the case before the 11th Circuit, said in an interview. “But to not allow anyone except the Cuban defendants to argue is not right. These are respected American legal organizations and they should be allowed to participate in the process.” Markus angrily called the prosecutors “crybabies.” “Only insecure bullies cry and complain like this,” he said. “I’m really surprised that the [U.S. attorney’s office] would take this position.” ... The brief by Assistant U.S.Attorney Caroline Heck Miller calls the amici “surrogates for appellants.” The purpose of such a move, she suggests, would be to allow the defense to circumvent page limitations in their own briefs. Klugh angrily denies the allegation. He and other defense lawyers argue that they see no reason why the court shouldn’t allow the two amicus briefs. All parties should be allowed to express their views in the case, Klugh said. “I have never seen the government argue this before,” Klugh said. “I can see if there were 10 briefs filed, but there were just two, from respected legal organizations.” ... Richard B. Rosenthal, a Miami appellate lawyer, said the South Florida legal community was flabbergasted by the government’s move. “We were all surprised,” he said. “Those briefs are routinely allowed and the government’s decision to challenge the amicus brief smacks either of desperation or of sheer pettiness.” ...

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