Calling Donald Trump’s position ‘disingenuous’ and ‘troubling, a government judge directed the Pentagon on Christmas Eve to allow an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union to get together with an American citizen, accused of fighting for ISIS. The defendant has been in prison for three months after being recognized as an terrorist combatant.The defendant holds dual citizenship — American and Saudi Arabian.

His parents were visiting relatives and friends in New York City when the defendant was born. Following the birth, the parents returned home to Saudi Arabia.

Balancing the rights of citizens facing those of government authorities, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the Federal District Court of Washington DC required the Pentagon not to eavesdrop during the conversation. She also instructed the Pentagon, who is held in Iraq, till the ACLU finds his wishes for a lawyer and lets the judge know.

In her twelve-page ruling, the judge sharply criticised the government’s position. The Defense Department has been preventing attorneys for the ACLU from talking with the individual even after the prisoner asked for an attorney following the reading of his Miranda warning.

“Having notified the prisoner of the right to a lawyer, and the detained asking for advice, the directorates stance that his request should merely be disregarded is troubling,” the judge wrote.

What Are A Defendant’s Rights

A defendant’s right to a lawyer is enshrined in the Sixth Amendment. The amendment requires the ‘assistance of counsel’ for the accused and means that if the defendant can’t afford a lawyer, the government will be under a mandate to appoint one to handle the case on behalf of the defendant.

The defense lawyer’s role is essential in each phase of the criminal process and especially those cases where the possibility of incarceration exists.  Besides guiding the defendant through the different stages of the court proceedings, a criminal defense attorney may also:

  • Advise the accused of their rights,
  • Ensure the accused constitutional rights are not violated,
  • Negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution,
  • Investigate facts and evidence, cross-examine witnesses and object to improper lines of questioning or improper evidence.

Courts have interpreted the Sixth Amendment as a guarantee the “effective assistance of counsel” for criminal defendants. “Effective assistance” is required whether the lawyer is enlisted by the defendant or assigned as a public defender.

A person’s right to counsel begins when custodial interrogation starts. Custody comes with differing definitions depending on the circumstances, so a person should weigh each move they make in their defense. Anyone being scrutinized or charged with a crime should get a free case review from a qualified, experienced criminal defense lawyer right away.