News reports about court rulings are very often misleading, if not flat-out wrong. For that reason, all reporting about court orders/rulings should include a link to the court’s ruling. Since Reuters did not manage to do that, here is the actual
Court Ruling. The facts considered by the Court start at page 4.
I skimmed over the order (which is 119 pages) which was (apparently) the result of a joint appeal filed by several defendants (I’m not discussing the other defendants here). Slatten’s conviction was overturned, but this does not mean that he can just walk away. To quote from page 87 of the order, “we vacate defendant Nicholas Slatten’s first degree murder conviction and remand for a new trial.” This means that Slatten’s case goes back to the trial court for an entirely new trial.
The Court’s decision was based on procedural defects at the trial court level (which I am happy to discuss further if anyone is interested). The Court’s ruling absolutely does not mean that Slatten has been found “not guilty” or anything like it. Further, having defended persons accused of murder at trial (although never in Federal Court, and certainly not under military jurisdiction), a second bite at the apple after a guilty verdict is always a great thing, but it is far from a sure thing that a better outcome can be obtained in round two (see the recent multiple trials of the former sheriff of Los Angeles for a recent example).
While I don’t know enough about this case to take any position on whether this is the correct outcome (not that it matters, since it is going back to the trial court)–I do believe that prosecutors have more than enough power as it is and anytime a conviction is overturned on procedural grounds (which is incredibly rare), it should be seen as a victory for our democracy even where the person who actually benefited may not be sympathetic.