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Bradley Manning’s ‘Unlawful Pretrial Punishment’ Hearing, Day 1

Sketch by Clark Stoeckley

UPDATE – 2:40 PM EST Basically, it is impermissible in the military to try to speed up a trial by offering a guilty plea and at the same time argue the government is not giving you a speedy trial.

A military rule establishes there is a 120-day speedy trial clock (unlike the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the constitution, which merely establishes government must be diligent).

Judge is permitting a defense maneuver or, another way of looking at it: She is not choosing to further complicate proceedings. She will let argument on the speedy trial motion be completed and then, if she is going to accept Manning’s plea, she will formally accept it in court.

UPDATE – 2:35 PM EST IF THE JUDGE ACCEPTS MANNING’S PLEA: Judge will make providence inquiry to make sure accused is voluntarily making the plea, that he understands the binding nature and that he is culpable. The judge will question the accused to make sure they’ve satisfied all the requirements to substantiate a violation of the law. At that time, the judge can accept the plea and he is then guilty of those charges.

Next step: The government has the option of going forward with the higher charges. Manning is pleading to lesser included offenses. It can present more evidence to show he is guilty of higher charges or specifications.

UPDATE – 2:25 PM EST Recess until 3:00 PM EST. Then, first witness.

UPDATE – 2:20 PM EST The government has filed a motion to “exclude motive evidence.” (No further details at the moment.)

UPDATE – 2:13 PM EST The trial calendar remains unchanged. Judge also suggested this hearing could go past Sunday if all business scheduled to be addressed is not litigated.

UPDATE – 2:10 PM EST Judge Denise Lind noted a plea of guilty waives speedy trial rights for the charges of which he pleads guilty. So, Lind said the court will finish litigation on the defense’s speedy trial motion during the December 10-14 hearing. If the judge is going to accept the plea, she will accept it after argument on that motion.

UPDATE – 2:07 PM EST The defense and government differ on maximum punishment for each of the charges. That will be settled during this session.

UPDATE – 2:05 PM EST Issues related to the plea with exceptions and substitutions will be litigated during this hearing. The defense and government need to deliberate over whether the proposed pleas are lesser included offenses (charges that could be considered a subset of the charges or specifications against Manning).They have to argue over whether the plea is “irregular” or whether it requires the court martial convening authority to concur.

UPDATE – 1:55 PM EST Last hearing, one might remember Manning offered a plea with exceptions and substitutions that indicated he would accept responsibility for transferring some of the information to WikiLeaks.

This afternoon the US govt formally announced in court it would not accept Manning’s “conditional plea.”

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."