Battleground Gallagher: Fighting for Loosened Restrictions Before Trial

By Faye Higbee

On March 30, President Trump demanded that Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher be placed in a less restrictive facility. He was moved to Balboa Naval Medical Center. But were those “restrictions” loosened? Not according to the Defense. The judge in the case has ordered the prosecution to loosen those restrictions so that the Chief can prepare for his trial.

Navy Capt. Matthew D. Rosenbloom, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group 1,  moved him, but left in place the phone restrictions that stated there was only one phone he could use and no private conversations were allowed. Someone had to be present at all times. The excuse? “The SEAL has been charged with obstruction of justice because, prosecutors said, he allegedly conspired to release names of witnesses in his case and threatened to kill them in text messages.” (San Diego Union Tribune)

But defense attorneys said that the defendant must have the ability to confer privately to properly prepare for this trial on May 28. The prosecutor in the case, Cmdr. Chris Czaplak, stated that he was not surprised by the ruling, and agreed that the restriction probably hampered the defense capabilities.

Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh ruled that Gallagher should be allowed a private phone to speak with his defense attorneys. He also said that he should have access to a computer to review the allegations against him, or at the very least all materials against him must be delivered to him in a timely manner. He is also to be granted access to the Subway Restaurant on base. His confinement at the base can be considered “time served” if he is sentenced to a period in prison. The Judge also moved to plug leaks that could prejudice a jury.

Chief Gallagher has a new team of defense attorneys led by New York Attorney Tim Parlatore. Switching attorneys is not uncommon in major cases.