Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Corbett Trial Updates

This is ongoing information sharing about the murder trial of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Corbett. The defense is now working to accuse the Mexican Consulate of interfering with the judicial process.
To make their point Monday, defense attorneys called a Border Patrol spokeswoman, who said she saw the Mexican consulate official give the three witnesses "blatant" hand cues while they testified last summer at a hearing in Bisbee.

But during an intense cross-examination, prosecutors challenged how blatant those signals were, noting no one else, not even the judge at the hearing, saw them.


"You are saying this went on for hours . . . and the judge missed the whole thing?" he said.

[Border Patrol spokeswoman Dove] Haber said yes, and after she was aware of it she told her superiors, who in turn told the judge.
An admonition was read to the courtroom, restricting any hand signals. But Haber said they continued.

However, when Woods read testimony from René Domínguez Rivera, a younger brother who testified after the admonishment, Haber said she couldn't remember any hand signals being used.

Observers with the Border Action Network filed this report on a different portion of the proceedings:
The following witness to be called to the stand for the defense was Agent Peter Hermansen, the current Patrol Officer in charge at the Casa Grande station. Part of his resume included being an integral part to the formation of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) use of force policy in D.C. Defense council Chapman displayed for him the CBP use of force continuum that revealed a rainbow colored chart that showed the proper escalation of use of force by an agent. While the chart first appeared rather complex, Agent Hermansen basically boiled it down to a rather catchy mantra of “means, opportunity, and intent”, and that if each one of those are present—that is if the officer perceives that each of those are present, deadly force is authorized.

Chapman gave Agent Hermansen a few scenarios, including one that involved a person with a rock at a distance of 100 yards, and asked him whether the use of deadly force would be authorized, for which Agent Hermansen replied that no, deadly force would no be authorized. Chapman continued asking questions in the vein of clarifying the Border Patrol’s policy of use of force, which Hermansen summarized that warning shots in the air are not authorized, nor is aiming to disable their assailants authorized—meaning aiming to shoot in the leg or arm.

The questioning then turned over to the prosecution, where Woods began taking up questions in regards to the scenario of an assailant at a distance of 100 yards with a rock where Agent Hermansen testified that the use of deadly force would not be authorized. Woods rather helpfully reminded the witness that he himself was involved with another case where he testified that deadly use of force was acceptable—a case where an assailant holding a rock at a distance of 127 yards on the other side of a metal fence was shot. Additionally, the agent who fired the shot was himself fired by the Border Patrol, and the Border Patrol itself disagreed with this incident and the use of force—as Woods effectively relayed to the entire courtroom that the Border Patrol itself is not clear when the use of force is acceptable or unacceptable.

linkage to full report