One defendant, SSgt Wuterich, remains in the case against the Marines in the surely ginned up "Haditha massacre," and his counsel has filed suit to dismiss it on the ground of Marine Corps interference with counsel, by forcing him to resign before his representation of Wuterich was complete. Nathaniel R. Helms writes on Defend Our Marines:
The government's case against the last Marine standing in the so-called "Haditha Massacre" debacle may run aground on the rocks and shoals of Marine Corps legal precedence, said his leading civilian attorney.
Former Marine Corps military judge Neal Puckett says Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich was denied his inherent right to retain the military lawyer appointed by the Marine Corps to defend him so the case must be dismissed.
Wuterich, 30, of Meriden, Conn., faces 12 counts of voluntary manslaughter and related charges. On Dec. 21, 2006 he was indicted on 17 counts of unpremeditated murder, two counts of soliciting another to commit an offense, and make false official statements for his infantry squad's actions at Haditha, Iraq. Since then the government has repeatedly reduced the charges when the evidence of massacre and cover up failed to materialize. If convicted Wuterich could still spend most of his life in prison. He has been waiting almost five years to go to court martial.
"He wants to get it over with," Puckett said.
There is more at stake than mere legal precedence, Puckett explained. Also at issue is the overriding principle of balanced justice, a cornerstone of American jurisprudence. Why is the government privileged to leave in place a prosecution team long past the time ordinary personnel procedures dictate they move on, Puckett rhetorically asked, while insisting a critical Marine defense lawyer serving the same cause was forced into retirement over his repeated protests?