November 13, 2007
Today, a status conference was held in the Taylor case. The Trial Chamber set out the agenda as follows:
1. Update regarding preparation of the trial;
2. Any issues regarding the administration of the case
Sub 1 – Both parties stated that the preparation of the trial is going well, but the Defense submitted one issue to the Trial Chamber. The issue concerns the electronic disclosure of materials by the Prosecution in the period June 4, 2007 until September 25, 2007. Outside this period, the Prosecution has electronically provided documents which is very convenient for the Defense since defense lawyers are in different places. The Prosecution stated that it does not have an electronic disclosure obligation under the Rules and that documents in this particular period had not been disclosed as confidentiality had not been secured in respect of these documents. However, the confidentiality concern no longer applies and, as the Prosecution has set out in a letter to the Defense, electronic disclosure will be made insofar as the workload of the Prosecution permits. The Prosecution estimated this will take several weeks. The Defense confirmed that confidentiality agreements were signed in September 2007 and it requested the Trial Chamber to set a deadline by which electronic disclosure should be completed. The Prosecution opposed such deadline, also pointing out that the Defense itself has the ability to scan documents. Furthermore, the Prosecution pointed out its workload in connection with its written disclosure obligation within certain time limits under the Rules.
The Trial Chamber denied the motion for a deadline, pointing out there is indeed no obligation for electronic disclosure under the Rules. The Trial Chamber did point out the availability of the Registry, as before, to assist the Prosecution in making speedy electronic disclosure. The Trial Chamber also referred to the importance of good faith cooperation between the parties.
Sub 2 – Defense counsel requested a closed session to discuss a further issue, which is of vital importance to the preparation of the case. It concerns various documentation sent to the Trial Chamber and the Prosecution. The Prosecution confirmed receipt of the documents in question and submitted that instead of a closed session, a private session would be held. With the agreement of the Defense, the Trial Chamber so ruled. We note that such private or closed sessions may happen throughout the trial in view of the sensitivity of the information discussed, or the need to protect certain persons.
After the private session, the Trial Chamber considered two closely related matters raised by the Prosecution, namely (i) whether on January 7, 2008 the trial will commence with the presentation of Prosecution evidence and (ii) whether there will be a status conference in December 2007. The Trial Chamber pointed out that earlier this year it had wanted to hold a status conference every month, but that at the time the parties stated this was not necessary. The Prosecution responded that it had only intended for status conferences to be held insofar as necessary. The point of its current submission is that if the Defense has issues that need to be addressed, a status conference can be arranged now so that the trial can start properly on January 7, 2008. The Defense agreed with the Prosecution and stated that a status conference would be necessary to “clear the decks” so that the trial can properly go ahead as planned. The Defense proposed December 11, 2007 as the next date for the status conference. This was agreed to by the Prosecution and so determined by the Trial Chamber.
The Defense raised two additional issues. The first concerned a Trial Chamber decision, dated November 5, 2007, on an ex parte motion by the Prosecution. The motion concerned the production of incriminating documents. The Trial Chamber had dismissed this motion. The Defense indicated that while it was grateful for this decision, it was concerned about the use of ex parte proceedings as this could affect the quality of the decisions. In this respect, the Defense stated it would have been able to submit several grounds on which the Prosecution’s motion in point would have to be dismissed. Therefore, the Defense requested a “practice directive” by the Trial Chamber on the use of ex parte proceedings. While the Prosecution stated that it would have no problem with any ex parte guidance, the Trial Chamber ruled that it would not issue such guidance. This is because each case is unique and must be dealt with by the Trial Chamber on its own merits. Judge Lusick added that if the motion in point would have had any merit, then the Defense would have been invited to make submissions.
The second additional issue raised by the Defense concerns a letter, dated November 8, 2007, from the Prosecution to the Defense regarding the alleged interference with witnesses by “persons associated with the Defense”. The Trial Chamber stated that it was not aware of the letter or the issues raised therein. The Defense then agreed to take this matter up at a later stage.
Next status conference: December 11, 2007, 11 a.m.