Today Judge King held a hearing on a defense discovery motion in the Portland bomb sting case. The defense had asked for access to the recording device that failed to record the audio from the first meeting between defendant Mohamud and the undercover agents, as well as a bunch of other stuff that sounded largely open-ended for the most part.
The judge ordered the prosecution to make the recording device available for inspection, although I have to confess that I'm skeptical of what the defense would be able to do with that. Even if you suspected the most nefarious explanation -- which would be that the government didn't like what was recorded, erased it, and then lied about it -- how would one prove that the batteries hadn't run down before the meeting? It seems to me that the defense already has a strong hand on this point. The cross-examination of the agent in charge of the device can include a lengthy series of questions about whether he/she understood the significance of the first encounter with a suspect in a sting case, as well as the importance of making sure that there was a recording of that encounter, which can be followed by a drawn out set of questions like "You knew the importance of checking the equipment right before the meeting, correct?"
The judge denied everything else the defense was asking for. The one thing that I was surprised about was that the judge didn't grant the defense request for documents, etc. regarding the mysterious "Bill Smith" -- someone the government admitted was a government agent who had contact with Mohamud earlier.
The government argued that "Smith"'s contact was unrelated to this case, but I had expected that the judge would let the defense explore that a bit; if it were unrelated, then it could be kept out of trial.
Speaking of trial, it was set for April 2012.