- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Terry Nichols cannot invoke his federal conspiracy conviction to block a death-penalty trial on 160 state murder charges from the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the Supreme Court said yesterday.
Without comment, justices rejected his attorneys' contention that Nichols' cooperation at his federal trial made the state trial double jeopardy.
Oklahoma officials were freed to proceed with the preliminary hearing required before the trial, expected this year.
Among other actions yesterday the court:
Granted U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson's request to voice administration support for school-choice vouchers when the court hears an Ohio case Feb. 20 on the constitutionality of letting local governments pay tuition to religious schools for needy children.
Turned back a challenge to barriers that protect the government from being sued by military personnel for injuries and death, rejecting a claim by families of two off-duty sailors accidentally killed on a 1995 recreational rafting trip organized by the Navy.
Rejected the latest attempt to upset the $206 billion tobacco industry settlement with the states. This time, 900 cigarette wholesalers said the deal unconstitutionally restricts trade without Congress' consent.
Nichols, 46, was sentenced to life in federal prison for conspiring with Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Oklahoma City federal office building. He also was convicted of eight counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of on-duty federal officers in the April 19, 1995, bombing.
A third conspirator, Michael Fortier, has received 12 years in a plea bargain and is due for release Jan. 22, 2006.
McVeigh, who was convicted of using a weapon of mass destruction and eight federal murder charges, was executed on June 11.
Oklahoma officials seek now to provide Nichols that same fate on 160 first-degree murder indictments, charging him with murdering everyone else killed in the bombing.
Brian Hermanson, Nichols' state attorney, said the second prosecution would be unconstitutional double jeopardy.
"The power and majesty of the federal sovereign and a state sovereign were conjoined in a massive criminal law enforcement enterprise which at first worked jointly to convict Mr. Nichols, and now seeks to separate one from the other to try him again for the same offenses," Mr. Hermanson argued.
"They have failed to prove that it was a joint enterprise in any form or fashion," Oklahoma prosecutor John Jacobsen replied.
Mr. Hermanson is fighting on a separate front to increase the $1.8 million Oklahoma authorized as his fee in the case.
Mr. Hermanson told a state Supreme Court referee that a 1999 contract promised more money if the case ran past the end of 2001.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader said the contract provides a defense "through trial and sentencing" for a fee nine times that of any other Oklahoma death-penalty case.
The state's obligation "is to provide not a Cadillac defense, but a Ford or Chevy defense," Mr. Leader said at the fee hearing.
Yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court loss was the third for Nichols. In October, he lost a plea to reopen the case after the FBI's belated release of investigation documents to his attorneys.
His appeal of the conviction was rejected last spring.
Nichols also recently ended his third hunger strike at the Oklahoma County Jail.
After six days without food to protest the lack of fiber in his diet, the jail added oatmeal to breakfasts and he resumed eating.

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