Terrorism Trials: Military Commissions

DCCA to Al-Bahlul: Do You Want to Keep Pursuing Your Case?

By Wells Bennett
Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 5:01 PM

The D.C. Circuit wants to know whether Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman Al-Bahlul desires to continue challenging his conviction by a military commission.  And the appeals court wants an answer from the accused himself, as it made clear in an order issued today.   (The D.C. Circuit granted the government's petition for en banc review; the full court will hear oral argument later this year.)

In April, Al-Bahlul had passed a note to a JTF-GTMO guard, wherein he said both that he wished to withdraw his appeal, and that he had not authorized any attorneys to file a case on his behalf in the U.S. legal system.  GTMO officials then filed Al-Bahlul's no-go note with the appeals court; his lawyers promptly responded with a letter of their own.  In it, defense attorneys represented that they had since met with their client, and that "Mr. Bahlul ... stated in no uncertain terms that, having had the opportunity to consult with counsel, he wanted to pursue his appeal at least through this Court's review."  Accordingly, the attorneys asked the D.C. Circuit to disregard Al-Bahlul's earlier missive---and even offered to provide additional information, on an ex parte basis, regarding their client's current intentions.

Now it seems the court of appeals indeed desires more information---from Al-Bahlul.  Here is the operative part of today's order: 

Upon consideration of the letter the court received from petitioner on May 2, 2013, the letter filed by counsel for petitioner on May 6, 2013, and the prior court filings
reflected in the court’s February 6, 2012 order, it is
ORDERED, on the court’s own motion, that counsel for petitioner obtain a letter from the petitioner stating whether he wishes to continue to pursue his case in this court.  Thereafter, counsel shall make an appropriate filing with the court, attaching petitioner’s letter.  The filing is due within a reasonable time after May 24, 2013.