UPDATE 9/5/2023 — An Onslow County, NC judge decided to dismiss the motion described below, meaning that the state prosecutors got their wish and a trial date is no longer set. On October 23, there will be an administrative session to discuss a new trial date.
In the case of former Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Bloch, North Carolina District Attorney Ernie Lee seemingly abdicated his responsibilities and deferred them to his Assistant District Attorney, Michelle Morton. Morton has made it clear that she intends to prosecute Bloch in a criminal proceeding as opposed to allowing him access to the state’s Veterans Treatment Court, which has stated its readiness and willingness to provide Bloch with their full cadre of services.
The defense team for Bloch filed a motion on Monday, 28 August 2023 for the State of North Carolina to ensure that Michelle Morton complies with the set 9/11 trial date. The defense has already gone to great lengths to coordinate travel and logistics for expert witnesses and family members. Upon hearing about the motion, Morton became upset and demanded a hearing to try to shut the motion down. That hearing is currently scheduled for 5 September 2023.
According to the document, “In open Court, recorded by the Clerks, and on the record, the State of North Carolina, by and through Assistant District Attorney Morton, selected the trial date of the week of September 11, 2023 with the understanding that the above captioned case would be pushed out long enough to ensure first priority on the trial calendar, to which defense agreed. The defense team was not consulted on this unilateral removal of the above captioned case and the Defendant does not wish to prolong this trial considering the statements of the State in open court.”
The motion continues, “Bloch is requesting this Court order the State of North Carolina to comply with the Trial Date set by the State of North Carolina of September 11, 2023 and ensure that Mr. Bloch’s case is not buried at the bottom of the priority Calendar to allow both the State and Defense to provide a fair trial under the protections of the United States and North Carolina Constitution.”
On May 11, 2023, UAP’s Board of Directors accepted Bloch’s request for support with the intent to ensure Bloch gains access to the Veterans Treatment Court and that he has the ability to fund his legal defense in a criminal court.
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