Monday, November 05, 2018

El Chapo trial expected to last 4 months

So absurd.

No trial should last that long.

It's not fair to the jurors.

If the prosecutors can't prove that case in 2-3 weeks, then something is wrong.

Here's Reuters with the background:
U.S. prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel since 2003, Guzman directed the movement of multi-ton shipments of drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine across borders and into the United States. If convicted, Guzman faces life in prison.

According to court filings, prosecution witnesses will include former Sinaloa Cartel members and others involved in the drug trade who are now cooperating with the U.S. government. Prosecutors have so far avoided naming the witnesses, saying that doing so would put them in danger. Some are expected to testify under aliases.

Although the charges in the case all relate to drug trafficking, prosecutors are also expected to introduce evidence that Guzman was involved in multiple murder plots in the course of his career, including in wars with rival cartels.

Guzman’s lawyers have so far given few hints about their planned defense. Eduardo Balarezo, one of the lawyers, said in a court filing that he will seek to prove that Guzman was merely a “lieutenant,” acting at the direction of others.

For a local case in the news, the WSJ covers the Andres Arias extradition appeal here. (Disclosure: I am handling that appeal with Professor Ricardo Bascuas). The title of the piece is: Will the U.S. Extradite an Innocent Man?
If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doesn’t get involved, an innocent man with young children could end up serving a 17-year sentence in a Colombian prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Forget that murderers in Colombia don’t get 17 years. Forget too that the Arias criminal case was heard only by a politicized Colombian Supreme Court with no chance for appeal—a violation of international human-rights law.

The crux of this matter rests on whether Washington has an extradition treaty with Bogotá. The countries signed one in 1979 but, as the Colombian Supreme Court has said, Colombia never ratified it.

President Santos refused to extradite multiple suspects wanted by the U.S., citing the lack of a treaty. One was Venezuelan drug kingpin Walid Makled, who Colombia captured in 2011 but sent to Venezuela where his secrets would be kept. Mr. Santos said he had no choice but “to comply with the Constitution and with the laws,” adding “we have an extradition agreement with Venezuela, not with the United States.”

Former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe also has stated, in a sworn affidavit presented in court, that there’s no treaty. Colombia uses domestic law to send suspects to the U.S.

In a motion for a stay of extradition pending appeal filed Tuesday in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Mr. Arias’s lawyers argued the point again. “The legality of the order sought to be stayed depends on whether a Treaty that Colombia insists it never ratified and never observes is in force. The Treaty itself states” in article 21(1) “that it is ‘subject to ratification.’ ”


Anonymous said...

So, US State department Obama Holdovers are trying to extradite a Political dissident that fled the previous (left leaning) government of Colombia no longer wanted by the now US friendly Colombian Gov't?

And this is being argued not on asylum grounds, for which he had credible fear at the time, but to protect a non-treaty the said previous Colombian gov't failed to ratify or honor?

Makes perfect sense.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why you say it's not fair to jurors. There's very little our country asks a citizen to do except pay taxes (well the non-1% of us). Even a long jury service is not much to ask for the freedom and opportunity our country provides.

Rumpole said...

Yeah but they saved half a day by limiting voir dire to 20 min for each side.

John W. Scott said...

David: I regard highly your experience and reputation and, by extension, your blog offerings. But I must disagree with your opinion on trial length. I spent much of my career prosecuting corruption cases for DOJ's Public Integrity Section. At least five of my trials lasted longer than your 2-3 week threshold and one, part of the then-dubbed "Houston City Hall scandal," lasted over three months. During that trial, the defense team--which included Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, Mike Ramsey, and Dick DeGuerin--spent much more time on cross than we did on direct. Then again, it was famously observed of the Racehorse that he "could cross-examine a tree for three days."

I still follow most of the major corruption trials and their length appears to be consistent with my experience. But your instinct is certainly spot on about one thing: if you're the government, its not easy to estimate that trial length for the court at the beginning of jury selection. The groaning by prospective jurors is immediate, audible, and justified. If the length of the trial is, to some extent, held against you, so be it, because you're the one who brought the case.

Anonymous said...

Humblebrag alert!

Anonymous said...

DOM is certainly humble (a great guy) and has much to brag about.

Anonymous said...

I actually was talking about John Scott the above poster.

Yes Dave is a great guy and very humble. He (and his team) just won Most Effective Lawyer!

David Oscar Markus said...


Interesting take. Thanks for posting it. I guess my response would be that I don't think normal people can pay attention for months on end. And if the reason is days long crosses, then the defense attorneys are equally at fault. Racehorse was supposedly the best, but I just can't imagine that a 3 day cross is effective.


Anonymous said...

I read on the internet that Dems are going to be burning flags to celebrate the wave. Does anyone know where the local demonstration will be?

Anonymous said...

I think its right next to where TrumpRepublicans are burning the Constitution.