Watada's first court-martial, which gained international attention, ended in a mistrial earlier this year. U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle wants time to consider whether a second trial would violate Watada's constitutional rights that protect him from "double jeopardy" that is a guarantee against being twice put to trial for the same offense.
"This Court has not been presented any evidence showing that Petitioner's double jeopardy claim lacks merit," Settle wrote. "On the contrary, the record indicates that Petitioner's double jeopardy claim is meritous."
For Settle, another key issue is whether a civilian court has the right to step in and block a military trial. Settle said that, as a general rule, civilian courts should not step in to rule on military trials. But in this case, all of the appeals to military courts had been exhausted, so a civilian judge could become involved.