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Federal judge temporarily blocks second court-martial for Iraq war objector

[JURIST] US District Judge Benjamin Settle Friday temporarily blocked a second court-martial for US Army Iraq war objector 1st Lt. Ehren Watada [JURIST news archive] that had been scheduled to begin October 9. Settle ruled that a second proceeding would include the harm that the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment [Wex backgrounder] was intended to prevent, and the civilian district court had jurisdiction over the issue because Watada "has exhausted his available military court remedies with respect to his double jeopardy claim ...". AP has more.

Watada, a 28-year-old Honolulu native, publicly refused deployment to Iraq [JURIST report] in July 2006, and was charged by the Army with with four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and one count of missing movements. His first court-martial was declared a mistrial [JURIST report], but the Army refiled charges [JURIST report] over Watada's argument that the constitutional principle of double jeopardy should prevent the army from refiling charges, as the mistrial was the result of prosecutorial misconduct. In July, a military judge disagreed with Watada and ruled the second court-martial would not constitute double jeopardy [JURIST report]. His case is before the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces [official website], but that court has not yet issued a decision, which prompted Watada to ask the federal district court for relief.

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