Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hells Angels Case - Spokane Angle, Seattle Trial

The Spokesman Review (Spokane) had a long article on Sunday: Angels on trial; The Hells Angels chapter in Spokane - home to the notorious club's West Coast president - is at the center of a high-stakes federal trial set to begin Monday in Seattle, Spokesman Review, March 11, 2007.

The extraordinary step of identifying jurors only by number was taken, authorities say, to reduce intimidation - a hallmark of so-called outlaw motorcycle clubs that boast their members are so tough they are the "1 percenters" of society.

The trial is expected to last 10 weeks and involve up to 200 witnesses, many of them from Spokane and Eastern Washington. The case involves alleged acts of witness intimidation in Spokane and elsewhere, according to court documents.
Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of the group's clubhouse in Spokane. In a ruling to limit prejudice, prosecutors are forbidden from referring to the group as a "gang," and will instead used its preferred name, "club."
Tom Hillier, a former Spokane County assistant public defender who is now the federal defender for the Western District of Washington, said prosecutors are up against some of the best criminal defense attorneys in Seattle. Hillier is not directly involved in the case.

"They're all really good lawyers, excellent criminal defense lawyers," Hillier said. "None are flamboyant -- just hard-working, skilled, creative trial attorneys. It's a great defense team."

Robert S. Lasnik, the chief judge for the Western District, will preside over the trial. The federal judge is a former King County deputy prosecutor with a reputation for being a "bright, capable, experienced jurist," Hillier said.

"He's not going to be controversial in the least," Hillier said. "He's not the sort of judge who's the center of attention. He's going to preside over the case with skill and dignity."
(I can't link to the whole article because full access on the paper's website is limited to subscribers. I read the article on LexisNexis.)

Students: Anyone care to spend a day of spring break watching excellent trial lawyers at work in a high-profile trial? It's an easy bus ride from here. Judge Lasnik's calendars are here. They post one week at a time -- so today you can see that the trial started at 8:45 this morning and is scheduled to go all day, but is in recess tomorrow (Friday). Tomorrow there are two sentencing proceedings in other cases -- one scheduled for 2 hours in the morning, and one scheduled for 30 minutes in the afternoon. I imagine that the Hells Angel trial (U.S. v. Fabel et al.) will start up again Monday morning, but it's a good idea to check the calendar.

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