Tags: Nichols' | Lawyers: | FBI | Evaded | Reports

Nichols' Lawyers: FBI Evaded Reports

Friday, 18 May 2001 12:00 AM

The lawyers for Nichols contend that the alleged failure to write routine "after-action" reports - called 302s - after the interviews was designed to keep information revealed in the interviews from defense attorneys.

The new allegations were contained in a declaration from Nichols' lawyers, led by Michael Tigar, filed at the Supreme Court less than a week after they again asked the justices to intervene in Nichols' case in light of newly discovered FBI documents not turned over to his defense.

The justices first turned down a request to intervene in the case in April.

The Supreme Court has yet to grant or deny the latest request.

The recently announced discovery of more than 3,000 documents and pieces of evidence that should have been turned over to defense attorneys led Attorney General John Ashcroft to postpone the lethal injection of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who had been scheduled for execution last Wednesday, until at least June 11 to give McVeigh's lawyers time to review the material.

Nichols, because of his lesser role in the bombing, was sentenced to life in prison in a trial in federal court.

U.S. prosecutors and separate teams of attorneys for McVeigh and Nichols signed an unusual discovery agreement in 1995 under which each side had to disclose the content of all interviews, regardless of whether they had an impact on the prosecution or the guilt or innocence of each man.

"The (recently) disclosed materials give a basis to believe that there is still more material that has not been turned over, because there are references to interviews that were done, yet no FBI 302 shows up in the files thus far given us," Nichols' lawyers said. "We have reason to believe that the FBI agents may have consciously failed to memorialize interviews in the form of FBI 302 reports."

The lawyers said the alleged failure "is particularly troubling because we on the defense team assiduously complied with the discovery agreement by instructing our investigators to make a record of every interview so that we could turn it over. There are other instances of deliberate failure to make FBI 302 reports."

The lawyers also point to what they call a discrepancy between the Justice Department's claim last week that the documents and pieces of evidence were newly discovered and a media report saying that some in the FBI knew as early as December 2000 that some required material had not been turned over to the defense during the McVeigh and Nichols trials.

Nichols' lawyers said the newly turned over documents indicated "at least two instances … where the government cross-examined a defense witness and then argued its position so as to suggest things that were directly contrary to the contents of withheld discovery material."

Nichols' lawyers said they were not suggesting prosecutors were behaving unethically, but that "the FBI hid from them the evidence that the defense was presenting truthful, reliable evidence."

The FBI in Washington said it had not seen the new filing from Nichols' lawyers, and declined immediate comment.

Although he has been convicted in federal court, Nichols has yet to be tried on state murder charges, where he could face the death penalty if convicted.

The blast that struck the federal building in April 1995 resulted in the deaths of 168 people and injured hundreds of others. McVeigh was captured shortly after the bombing in a routine traffic stop. Nichols was implicated in the case because of his connection to McVeigh and because of witnesses who said both men used aliases to gather materials for the bomb.

Prosecutors reached an agreement with defense attorneys, before separate McVeigh and Nichols trials, to turn over all of the estimated 1 billion documents and pieces of evidence in the case, even those materials that were not central to the prosecution. The 3,000 documents and pieces of evidence were discovered after repeated FBI earlier computer searches failed to find them. Lawyers for both convicted men were notified of the find last week.

Government prosecutors contend the newly discovered materials have no bearing on the guilt or innocence of either man.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The lawyers for Nichols contend that the alleged failure to write routine after-action reports - called 302s - after the interviews was designed to keep information revealed in the interviews from defense attorneys. The new allegations were contained in a declaration...
Nichols',Lawyers:,FBI,Evaded,Reports
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2001-00-18
Friday, 18 May 2001 12:00 AM
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