Trial Chamber Denies Certification to Appeal Stand-By Counsel
Give the Trial Chamber credit, it has at least has stopped pretending that its decisions make any legal sense whatsoever:
It said on Monday that Karadzic’s appeal request was too vague and premature because at the time of his application, no counsel had been appointed to him.
“Granting the application now, and then potentially again on 1 March, 2010 … would hinder, rather than materially advance the proceedings,” the court said.
It’s true, stand-by counsel has not been appointed to actually represent Dr. Karadzic. But that has absolutely nothing to do with Dr. Karadzic’s request for certification to appeal, which concerns the Registry’s failure to follow binding Appeals Chamber precedent for selecting stand-by counsel in the first place. That request is neither vague nor premature — Seselj is clear on the relevant procedure, so unless the Appeals Chamber overrules that decision, new stand-by counsel must be appointed now. Indeed, it would be in all of the parties’ interest to have new stand-by counsel appointed now, not in March, so that he or she could begin preparing for trial.
It is patently obvious what the Trial Chamber is trying to do. By refusing, however unjustifiably, to deal with the Registry’s failure to follow Seselj, the Trial Chamber puts the Appeals Chamber in the unenviable position in March of either (1) granting Dr. Karadzic’s appeal and appointing new stand-by counsel whose need to prepare will delay the start of trial even further, or (2) overruling Seselj for no reason other than that it has become inconvenient. I think we all know which choice the Appeals Chamber would make.
Apparently, the Trial Chamber has adopted a new meta-rule for the Karadzic case: no legal argument by the defendant can succeed, no matter how meritorious, if it might hinder the trial. Could it be any clearer that the Completion Strategy is now the Trial Chamber’s only relevant concern?