And A Full Dance Card
It’s hard to say enough about the high caliber defense teams working on behalf of the Swann Street roommates. Of the four attorneys, two stand out from their years as Assistant US Attorney’s in DC: Thomas Connolly and David Schertler.
Connolly was best known for the dogged prosecution of James Nicholson, the highest-ranking CIA official ever convicted for espionage, while Schertler helmed the office’s Homicide Division, the position now held by Glenn Kirschner, lead prosecutor in the Wone case.
Both Connolly and Schertler compiled impressive records as prosecutors and have since made their marks in private practice. Connolly’s marquee case was as lead counsel defending Dr. Steven Hatfill, the virologist wrongly targeted in the 2001 anthrax attacks. Schertler ranked 25th in the December 2007 issue of Washingtonian Magazine’s list, “Big Guns: Washington’s Top 30 Lawyers”, and that he, “provides sensitivity and a personal relationship.”
“Big Guns,” may also be appropriate for a couple other of Connolly’s and Schertler’s clients, Nicholas Slatten and Dustin Heard in the matter of U.S. vs. Slough, Slatten, Liberty, Heard & Ball. Their trial is slated to begin in February.
Whether Connolly’s and Schertler’s commitments to them precludes Judge Weisberg’s wish to set a timely trial date for the Wone case is the question.
Never heard of Slatten and Heard? Then surely their former employer is more familiar: Blackwater Worldwide. Big guns indeed.
The charges are manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and a weapons violation. A sixth guard pleaded guilty last year and has agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors.
According to a January Reuters story:
U.S. Justice Department lawyer Kenneth Kohl said at the hearing that witnesses would be coming from Iraq and estimated it would take about four weeks for the prosecution to put on its case at trial.
“This is a straightforward shooting of a lot of people,” Kohl said, adding that he does not expect the case to be delayed by complex classified intelligence issues. While Kohl wanted the trial to begin in the fall, defense lawyers said they needed more time to file various motions and challenges, to gather evidence and to go Iraq for interviews.
All those motions and challenges do seem to add up to a lot of delays, don’t they? And as the meters continue to run for Slatten and Heard, neither Connolly or Schertler have to worry about getting paid. Though not named in the charges, it’s been reported that Blackwater, now named Xe, is footing the legal bills for all five defendants.
It’s remarkable how fast the wheels of justice are spinning for them: An alleged September 2007 shooting spree, an indictment filed in open court in December 2008, and whoosh – a trial date set just over a month later. Light speed.
Who knows what the upcoming court calendar looks like. Maybe there’s a chance Judge Weisberg can squeeze in the Wone case before Connolly and Schertler strap on the battle gear for the mercenaries. But would anyone be surprised if Eric Prince’s hired guns get justice ahead of Kathy Wone?