The NATO 3—Brent Betterly, Jared Chase, and Brian Jacob Church—appeared in court again on Tuesday for a brief status hearing. The judge began the hearing by denying the defendants’ joint motion to dismiss the three felony arson charges against them, saying the indictment offered sufficient and particular enough information to help the defendants prepare their defense and to guard against subsequent indictments (e.g., double jeopardy). The judge also denied two out of the defense’s three requests for evidence of Chicago Police Department investigations into Occupy and anti-NATO organizing groups, saying they are not relevant to the charges against the NATO 3. Finally, the judge pushed the defense and prosecution to be ready for trial starting on January 2nd of next year, not mid-March as the defense had requested. The trial date is expected to be set for certain at the next status hearing:
When: Tuesday, August 6th, 2pm
Where: Cook County Criminal Court, 2650 California Ave
The defense had asked for the trial to be pushed back until mid-March of next year, even though that means the defendants will be in jail longer, so they would have sufficient time to go through all the information the State has given them as “evidence” and prepare their defense. With the judge insisting that the trial happen as soon as possible, the defense team must work even harder and faster than they have been. Support funds for their legal defense preparations are needed now more than ever. You can make a tax-deductible donation by sending a check or money order with “8th Day Center/NATO 5 Defense Fund” in the memo line to:
8th Day Center for Justice
205 W. Monroe St. Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60606
You can also make secure donations online at https://www.wepay.com/donations/nato-5-defense (these donations are not tax-deductible, unfortunately).
You can check out our full Court Notes, but here is a short summary of the hearing. In addition to denying the motion to dismiss the arson charges, the judge discussed the defense’s request for the state to produce documentation regarding three separate First Amendment investigation applications and worksheets. The judge had conducted an in camera review of the documentation to determine whether they were relevant to the case and had probative value. The judge said that the prosecution had already been ordered to turn over the NATO investigation documentation but that the other documentation was not relevant to or probative about the charges facing the defendants because none of them was listed as a target or intended subject of the investigations.
The next issue discussed was the defense’s motion to compel discovery about the searches of neighboring apartments to the one that two of the defendants were arrested in. The defense argued that they had produced evidence of these searches by submitting a motion with a copy of a newspaper article quoting residents of those apartments talking about their experiences being raided, handcuffed, and interrogated and harassed by the officers. The prosecutors argued that nothing in the newspaper article showed that the residents of other apartments were questioned about the defendants or about anything concerning the investigation into these alleged crimes, so no documentation of those searches, if any existed, is relevant to this case. The judge ordered the State to check with the police about documentation of those other searches and to provide them to the defense if they exist and to submit an affidavit saying they don’t exist if this is the case.
Concerning the trial date, the judge thought that pushing it out till next March was too long. After much back-and-forth about schedules and the time needed to prepare the defense, the judge suggested January 2nd and 3rd for jury selection, with the trial itself starting on January 7th or 8th. He expected to use one jury (i.e., for a joint trial for all three defendants) and for the trial to take two or three weeks. The defense and prosecution must work out their schedules to make these dates work and send him a notice of this scheduling agreement when they have it. The judge will also check his trial calendar and they will set the dates for certain at the next hearing. The defense then asked for a larger courtroom for trial and the judge said he would look into it, but they should expect to have trial there.