Status Hearing May 14

The NATO 3 were in court today to continue the discovery process. Their attorneys from the People’s Law Office and the National Lawyers Guild are still seeking the evidence needed to properly defend their clients and today Judge Thaddeus Wilson ruled on a number of discovery requests made by the defense. The state has continued to stall delivering necessary documents needed by the defendants in the lead up to their trial in September.

The broad contested issue between attorneys for the NATO 3 and prosecutors is to what extent the investigative materials on the NATO 3 have to do with the broader Chicago Police Department investigation into Occupy Chicago, the Woodlawn Clinic occupation and other activist groups in the city. Defense lawyers argued that, because their clients were exposed to undercover agents infiltrating these political movements, all material in the police’s active and systematic surveillance of these movements is relevant to their view of the case. Additionally, the defense has argued that there is clear evidence establishing the involvement of federal law enforcement agencies that have not been divulged. The state has already been compelled to seek discovery information from the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service. Thus, the general debate today was over how much the state would reveal about the surveillance of Occupy Chicago by the CPD and whether or not they had adequately informed the defense of federal involvement in the case.

On the other side of the aisle, the state alleges that all relevant information regarding the broad surveillance and infiltration of Occupy Chicago and the involvement of federal law enforcement has been handed over to the defendants. While the state acknowledges the existence of a long-term investigation of Occupy Chicago, they claim that this information does not relate to the specific investigation of the NATO 3 (Occupy activists) and thus, unless the defense can concretely prove otherwise, the evidence will not be given to defense lawyers. It is clear that the CPD and potentially other law enforcement entities were spying on Occupy Chicago months before the NATO summit.

The defense attorneys have also received internal Chicago police documents referencing a First Amendment Worksheet number on the broader investigation. This document justified the ongoing investigation into Occupy. However, the state continued to make the claim that this information was irrelevant.

Judge Wilson generally ruled in favor of the state, finding that they had fulfilled their discovery requirements except on a few key issues and repeatedly held that if the defense could not make specific connections between the surveillance of the NATO 3 and the broader Occupy Chicago investigation, this evidence would not be offered into discovery. He did, however, direct the prosecution to hand over the First Amendment Worksheet as well as the names of police officers working underneath that number.

It was also revealed that police officers involved in the police surveillance operation personally deleted multiple text messages related to the case and had gone so far as to destroy the phones used in this operation, all actions which Wilson himself said “might be problematic.” Wilson ordered the prosecutors to investigate and retrieve all text messages, phone numbers, and time logs of text exchanges that are still available.

Another contested issue was the third undercover police officer who had not been identified in earlier documents. The defense team repeatedly argued for more information on Patrick Lee-Palmer, the third police infiltrator who posed as a street medic to spy on organizations across the city. The state was directed to release documentation regarding this third undercover and his involvement in several key dates leading up to the Bridgeport arrests.

The judge also commented on the substantial lack of documentation contained in the state’s case in comparison to average criminal investigations. For example, the state delivered only 2 General Progress Reports (GPRs) to the defense from the Chicago Police Department. The judge remarked that an average investigation involves around 6 or 7 GPRs whereas the state had handed over only two. The judge also seemed to doubt the representation of the case by the prosecutors who allege that the undercover informants met two of the defendants at a party after the May Day march in 2012 at random without the guidance of prior surveillance by outside law enforcement agencies. Wilson commented on this theory of events by saying it would give the defense “wide latitude in cross-examination.”

Finally, the prosecutor’s office filed a motion against two defense attorneys in the case claiming they had committed a breach of rules immediately after the raids and detention of the three activists. The state alleges that it was NLG lawyers who leaked the images of undercover police officers Mohmet Nguyen (“Mo”) and Nadia Chikko (“Gloves/Nadia”) and that the NLG website had broken rules of conduct by publishing these images on their website. Both attorneys denied being the source of the images being leaked and argued that to attack them for postings on the NLG website was “guilt by association.”