(CN) – A federal judge in Washington, D.C., limited the government’s use of hearsay evidence against Guantanamo detainees petitioning for release.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton elaborated on a 2008 case management order requiring the government to show undue burden to justify the use of hearsay in Gitmo cases.
The “blanket presumption” that hearsay evidence submitted by the government is automatically admissible is unacceptable, Walton ruled. The court must consider the circumstances of detainees’ detentions, the ruling states. And petitioners will have choice to cross-examine government witnesses or obtain review from court of into on government sources of hearsay, despite the drain on government resources, Walton ruled.
The court will not look at hearsay in context before determining admissibility of individual pieces, but will judge each piece for reliability, Walton ruled. Nor will the court lower its standards of admissibility to meet the government’s ability to produce evidence, the judge said in response to claims that tracking down non-hearsay evidence in Gitmo cases drains government resources.
The costs of the extensive prisoner litigation should be borne by the government, “not fobbed off on the petitioners in the form of a blanket presumption of admissibility of otherwise inadmissible hearsay,” Walton wrote.