Fifth Circuit hears Ramos and Compean Appeal

On Monday the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the appeal of former border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. Prosecutors admitted that their star witness, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, lied on the stand. That was not the worst news for the prosecution in this vicious miscarriage of justice.

Witnesses to the hearing Monday were surprised at the aggressiveness of the three-judge panel in questioning of the prosecution's attorney, assistant U.S. attorney Mark Stelmach. Tara Setmayer, communications director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., expressed this surprise in a radio interview on radio station KSEV in Houston this morning. (Tuesday, Dec.4) (Click "download" and move the slider bar about two-thirds of the way to the right, till you hear the lead to the break at 7:42.)

Setmayer said in the interview, "It seemed almost as though the prosecutor's office was on trial there. It was amazing" "There were almost several 'Perry Mason' moments."

According to Setmayer and KSEV co-host Edd Hendee, who was also at the hearing, as soon as the attorney for the prosecution began to speak the judges began what was described as a "cross examination" of the U.S. attorney's office. This elicited the admission by the prosecution that Aldrete-Davila, "lied and they knew it, and they (the government) let him (Aldrete-Davila) do it!"

Later in the radio interview Setmayer noted "This is the first time that this case has been reviewed by anyone other than a Bush appointee or prosecuted by anyone other than a friend of the president."

Given that this case has been the clearest example of the Bush administration alienating their Texas base, and not particularly caring that they are doing so, the universally mild reaction of mainstream news sources to this story has been remarkable. This can even be seen in the Associated Press article posted on the Fox News website in which the writer seems to downplay the events of the hearing.

In the aftermath of the hearing on Monday there has been serious discussion by, among others, Texas Congressman Ted Poe (R.), who was for more than twenty years a state criminal court judge, of raising the issue of federal prosecutor Johnny Sutton having possibly suborned perjury.

Hendee stated, after a discussion of Representative Poe's definition of suborning perjury, "I'm not Perry Mason, but I'm seeing suborning perjury, and that's a serious offense for the U.S. attorney to be defending himself from."

If such a course begins to unfold it could also ensnare others in the Bush administration or in federal courts in Texas. Johnny Sutton has long been a personal friend of the president.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at December 4, 2007 5:59 PM
Comment #240000

Newly revealed evidence warrants a review of Ramos’ and Compean’s trial and sentencing. Their shooting may prove to have been warranted and justified.

That said, Ramos and Compean are not innocent of cover-up and violating departmental procedures. With the information available to me at this time, I think they should be released from prison, but, NOT reinstated to their jobs. They screwed up, and were complicit in their own targeting by the Justice Department, even if exonerated for the wrongful shooting of a suspect.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 4, 2007 11:22 PM
Comment #240018

Actually, they are innocent of a coverup.
Border Patrol regulations require a verbal report to the supervisor, which they did, and specifically forbids a written report by the officer(s) involved.

Posted by: traveller at December 5, 2007 9:18 AM
Comment #240021

Witness accounts from the hearing indicate the judges did feel the agents had violated procedure, but also strongly indicated they felt the procedural violations were not criminal.

One telling moment I heard of was when one of the judges demanded to know if Sutton’s office had applied the weapons charge (use of a firearm in the commission of a felony- that tacked on ten years to the sentances) to EVERY prosection of a peace officer who had brandished a weapon in a violation of civil rights. Clearly the answer was “no”.

The judges were also apparently outraged at Sutton’s failure to seek a second immunity agreement after Davila was arrested a second time for running drugs while under the protection of the first immunity. Instead Sutton got the trial judge, a Bush appointee, to seal the records of subsequent crimes by Davila so that not even the defense attorneys would be privy to those further violations by the prosecution’s star witness. Then, when his testimony indicated he had only tried to transport marijuana the one time when he was shot, the trial jury had not way to know that testimony was false- ,em>though the prosecution knew it was!

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 5, 2007 9:40 AM
Comment #240029

Lee, you are dead on with the “miscarriage of Justice” line. Bush and Sutton are on the wrong side of this issue; let these two Americans go!!

Posted by: rahdigly at December 5, 2007 12:10 PM
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