Carla Martin: Judge Cancels Monday Appearance

It appears Carla Martin has advised the court she will invoke her 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination if compelled to take the stand Monday at a hearing scheduled by the Judge at which she was to explain her actions. The Judge has quashed the subpoena and canceled Monday's hearing.

Her attorney, Roscoe C. Howard Jr., has said Martin is assembling a defense but is not yet ready to explain her actions publicly.

Original Post 3/24

A new article in the ABA Journal E-Report examines Carla Martin's actions in violating the sequestration order in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial. Several lawyers (including me) weigh in, as does the esteemed George Washington law professor Stephen Saltzburg.

The Judge has directed Martin to be in Court Monday for a hearing on her actions. It's not known if she will testify or invoke her 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

Some have tried to minimize her acts by saying she isn't a trial lawyer and may not have known her actions were wrong. Here's an e-mail I received from a lawyer mentioning a criminal trial she prosecuted.

Today at lunch, a bunch of us were talking about Carla Martin and the Moussaoui case. One my brethren, who has been practicing criminal law for far longer than myself, my woeful 12 years, said he remembered that he tried a criminal case against Carla Martin when she was a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the early 1990's. Our U.S. Attorney's office takes agency attorneys for six months at a time and lets them prosecute misdemeanor cases as a Special Assistant. So it appears that she is knowledgeable about the rule on witnesses and sequestration.

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  • Re: Carla Martin: Judge Cancels Monday Appearance (none / 0) (#1)
    by barbarajmay on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 01:13:11 PM EST
    I've been practicing for 25 years, and I knew before I finished my first year of lawschool that you don't subborn perjury. You can prepare a witness by teaching them the proper way to tell the truth, but you can't instruct them how to testify. What Ms. Martin did is so far over the line that she will be lucky not to be saying "Would you like fries with that?" by this time next year.

    Re: Carla Martin: Judge Cancels Monday Appearance (none / 0) (#2)
    by swingvote on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 01:54:57 PM EST
    Barbara, This is not directly related to the Carla Martin question, but perhaps you can shed light on a slightly broader issue of suborning perjury. At what point does coaching a potential witness become subornation of perjury? Must the witness be on a list of witnesses to be called by either the prosecution or the defense? What if a lawyer were talking to a potential witness, or someone they felt would be called to support or refute the testimony of other witnesses? Would coaching a potential witness about what their testimony should be, before they were named as a witness, be suborning perjury? Just a question I've had in my mind based on another case and I've never been sure where that line is drawn.

    Re: Carla Martin: Judge Cancels Monday Appearance (none / 0) (#3)
    by rdandrea on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 07:27:36 PM EST
    Put her lame a** in jail, which the judge can do with or without the 5th amendment simply for violating the court order.

    Re: Carla Martin: Judge Cancels Monday Appearance (none / 0) (#4)
    by barbarajmay on Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 05:06:36 AM EST
    Justpaul- Really good questions. When I read what Martin did, I relexively saw it as subornation of perjury in a Potter Stewart "I know it when I see it" sort of way. You are right to recognize the distinction between preparing a witness ("sandpapering") and coaching a witness to offer testimony that isn't his or her own. All attorneys have suggested to a client or witness that one word would be more descriptive than another in testimony, for example, and that doesn't give me pause. But I have never given a potential witness a transcript of how to testify and instructed them to mirror that transcript. It seems like such an obvious distinction, but now that you've called my attention to it, I guess that there could be wiggle room. You are also right that a person can't be found to have have suborned perjury until the perjury has actually happened. In this case, looking at it through the prism of your questions, it looks like a better case of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Either way, when the Lawyer's Board gets done with her, she'll be working the late night window at Wendy's.

    Re: Carla Martin: Judge Cancels Monday Appearance (none / 0) (#5)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 08:45:20 AM EST
    Re: Martin: If you're not a brain surgeon, then stay out of peoples' skulls. If you're not a criminal lawyer, stay out of criminal cases. Don't you people have specialties also?