Hearing Motions 16 – 17 June–By Megan Alvarez

After receiving the documents corresponding to the hearings for the week of June 15th, I was anxious to review them. I sat down this morning to look over them, and now, I am ready and excited about next week.

The hearing next week is about FBI contact with a Defense Security Officer (DSO officer) and whether it creates a conflict of interest for defense counsel. Regardless of how the judge decides to proceed in this matter, it is concerning to me that the government seems to be uninterested in the way its actions are perceived or the effects they may cause. This contact could lead to further delay in this case. Moreover, there is much research indicating that perceived legitimacy is important in court systems. FBI officials interviewing an individual associated with the defense counsel sends the wrong message. Rather than perceived legitimacy, the message is one of corruption and improper influence. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that there is corruption or improper influence occurring, although there may be, I’m saying that their actions give that impression, and this impression is what the public uses in forming its opinion regarding the legitimacy of these proceedings. The government should take into account its actions, not only due to the legal implications, but also due to the impression this gives to the public.

Also, it seems that the defense is highly suspicious and concerned about possible continued monitoring by the FBI. In addition to the current issue in question, they also mentioned other incidents, including one where recording devices were found in smoke detectors in rooms that were used for defense counsel to meet with defendants. I can only imagine the stress this puts on counsel and the effect it has on their ability to provide effective assistance to their clients.

In sum, I can say that I am not envious of the judge in this case. These types of issues call into question the fairness of the entire process and result in delays. I also do not envy the defense team. They are doing thankless work in difficult circumstances. I look forward to seeing all parties in action on Monday!

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