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Federal judge orders new trial in felony gun possession case

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Finding the interests of justice require a new trial for a man convicted of a federal gun crime in which the government withheld potentially exculpatory evidence, Judge William T. Lawrence granted his request Wednesday in the Southern District of Indiana Terre Haute division.

Donald Bickel of Jasonville was convicted in November after authorities obtained a search warrant for his home but then watched and waited as someone left and drove to the woods in Bickel’s truck. Officers didn’t confirm Bickel’s identity as they watched, though, and waited another 12 hours before executing the warrant.

Lawrence vacated Bickel’s conviction of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a felon and granted his motion for a new trial. He ruled that the government failed to disclose the period of surveillance and it suppressed Norman Arthur Pilant’s statement that he was the owners of guns and ammunition for which Bickel was charged. Pilant also claimed he was driving Bickel’s truck as police watched.

“The Court now finds that the cumulative effect of the Government’s failure to disclose the period of police surveillance prior to Bickel’s arrest and the recorded statement made by Norman Arthur Pilant at the scene of Bickel’s arrest prior to trial, jeopardized the substantial rights of the Defendant,” Lawrence wrote.

Chief Federal Defender Monica Foster of Indiana Federal Community Defenders Inc. praised federal defender Joseph Cleary for getting the conviction vacated.

“This case sends a clear message that prosecutorial misconduct will not be tolerated by the federal courts,” Foster said in a statement. “We have been concerned about the United States Attorney’s discovery policies in the recent past and this case demonstrates those concerns have merit. Our justice system is built on the premise that the Government plays fair and we continue our commitment to making sure they do.”
 

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  1. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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