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Blackwater lawyers reprimanded ... for not double-spacing

Defense attorneys for five U.S. security contractors heading to trial on charges of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007 got into BIG trouble Monday with the federal judge presiding over the case.

No, they didn't leak classified information.

No, they didn't spout off in court.

They filed court papers in single space.

“Paragraph 1 of the Standing Order provides all submissions ‘should be double-spaced, in 12-point Times Roman or Courier font,’” U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina wrote in a short notice filed on the court docket Monday. “In disregard of this provision, the defendants failed to double-space their memorandum, in an apparent attempt to include more information in their submission than would otherwise be permitted.”

Urbina declined to sanction the lawyers, writing that he was “loath to strike the defendant’s submission given the nature of the litigation and the proximity to trial.”

“The parties, however, are put on notice that any further failure to meet the standards set by the court will result in sanctions,” Urbina added.

Jury selection starts in late January.

It is not known what was actually in the defendants’ motion. Filed under seal, it dealt with the aftermath of a critical set of hearings that the judge ordered closed to the public several weeks ago. The hearings focused on whether the government was able to build a case without using immunized statements the guards gave to State Department officials shortly after the shooting.

Last week, the Justice Department announced in court papers that it wanted to drop charges against one of the guards. The men worked for Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe.

-- Del Quentin Wilber

By Del Wilber  |  November 23, 2009; 5:18 PM ET
Categories:  Del Quentin Wilber , Document Room , From the Courthouse  
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