Thursday, February 14, 2008

Defendants in Makah Whaling Case Raise Treaty Defense

Jim Casey of the Peninsula Daily News reports today that a motion to dismiss federal charges against the Makah Five will be heard beginning Tuesday in Federal District Court in Tacoma.
A pretrial hearing on motions to dismiss federal charges against five Makah whale hunters will proceed on Tuesday. Peninsula Daily News erroneously reported Sunday that the hearing had been postponed. A reporter mistook a motion signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Oesterle for one signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Kelley Arnold. Arnold on Wednesday ordered the hearing to proceed as scheduled and set aside two days for it. The crux of the hearing will be a defense claim that the charges void the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay, in which the government granted to the Makah the right to hunt and kill whales and seals.
[Assistant Us Attorney] Oesterle and his boss, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sullivan, sought to postpone the hearing because multiple federal agencies were interested in the motion to dismiss the charges against Wayne Johnson, Andy Noel, Frankie Gonzales, Theron Parker and William Secor Sr.