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Status Hearing Report: Oregon Green Scare Case

Today in federal court, Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher were present for a status hearing on the upcoming trial.
Also in attendance were Jeff Robinson and Amanda Lee for Daniel McGowan, as well as Marc Blackman for Jonathan Paul via conference call.

The first order of business was a continuance for the upcoming discovery hearing (originally set the same day as Jeff Hogg's grumbles hearing, August 15th) in which defendants' attorneys will ask for the court to order the release of surveillance evidence in discovery. The US Attorney's office has been dancing around the release of this surveillance, which could go back many years. What do they have to hide? Unwarranted wiretaps? Agents provacatuers?We'll see...

That hearing was continued (postponed) till September 6th, 10;30 am.

Next, Amanda Lee requested that discovery released to defense last week be viewable by defendants without a lawyer present. There is currently an order in place that only allows the defendants to view this discovery (the testimony of cooperating defendants) in the presence of their lawyers. This makes it obviously very difficult and expensive for defendants whose lawyers are far away to view this discovery. The US Atty (Kirk Engdall) says the order is in place because the discussion or distribution of this discovery could "intensify the security risk" of cooperating defendants. A discussion ensued in which Jonathan's attorney, Marc Blackman, made suggestions about ways in which copies of this discovery could be given to defendants... on colored or watermarked paper similar to what banks use, to make copying impossible. Engdall said that the US Atty's office did not feel any of these measures would ensure the security of the documents. Nathan's attorney (I'm sorry, I didn't get his name) said that making copies would be impossible for Nathan and Joyanna while in jail. Engdall said that security issues in jail occur when prisoners are "shuffled" and papers are misplaced. He asked that a decision on the issue be delayed until both sides could agree on a way to protect the confidentiality of the discovery.

A date was set, August 22nd* at 9:30 am, for a hearing on the issue.

Then Engdall proposed a date be set for motion to continue the trial to a later date, since the US atty's office would need time to subpoena witnesses from 5 federal districts to testify at trial. He stated it seemed all parties would want an extension of the original October 31st trial date.

That issue will also be heard on August 22nd*.

[*the August 22nd hearing date is contigent on a schedule change for one of the defense attorneys. If he is unable to reschedule a trial set for that date, these hearings will happen at the same time as the discovery hearing on Sept. 6th.]
Thank You 08.Aug.2006 16:42

muchas gracias

Thank you for keeping us updated (especially those of us who live far away)....

Eugene Weekly News Brief, "Secret Justice" 10.Aug.2006 17:26

Alan Pittman



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

us atty in Maine 26.Sep.2006 17:39

Joseph Paquette

I cannot find the US Atty's office in Maine, can you help me?
Thanks in advance, jlp