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Posted: 3/13/2006 8:27:50 AM EDT
Angry Judge Halts Moussaoui Sentencing Trial
Death Penalty May Be Eliminated as Option
By Michael J. Sniffen, AP

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 13) -- An angry federal judge unexpectedly recessed the death penalty trial of confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to consider whether government violations of her rules against coaching witnesses should remove the death penalty as an option.

The stunning development came at the opening of the fifth day of the trial as the government had informed the judge and the defense over the weekend that a lawyer for the Federal Aviation Administration had coached four government FAA witnesses in violation of the rule set by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema. The rule was that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance.

"This is the second significant error by the government affecting the constitutional rights of the defendant and the criminal justice system in this country in the context of a death case," Brinkema told lawyers in the case outside the presence of the jury.

Defense attorney Edward MacMahon moved to have the judge dismiss the death penalty as a possible outcome, saying "this is not going to be a fair trial." In the alternative, he said, at least she should excuse the government's FAA witnesses from the case.

Prosecutor David Novak replied that removing the FAA witnesses would "exclude half the government's case." Novak suggested instead that the problem could be fixed by a vigorous cross-examination by the defense.

But Brinkema said she would need time to study what to do.

"In all the years I've been on the bench, I have never seen such an egregious violation of a rule on witnesses," she said.

Moussaoui is the only person charged in this country with the 9/11 attacks. He pleaded guilty in April 2005 to conspiring with al-Qaida to hijack planes and other crimes, but he denies any role in 9/11. He says he was training for a possible future attack.

Brinkema noted that last Thursday, Novak asked a question that she ruled out of order after the defense said the question should result in a mistrial. In that question, Novak suggested that Moussaoui might have had some responsibility to go back to the FBI, after he got a lawyer, and then confess his terrorist ties.

Brinkema warned the government at that point that it was treading on shaky legal ground because she said she knew of no case where a failure to act resulted in a death penalty as a matter of law.

Even prosecutor Novak conceded that the witness coaching was "horrendously wrong."

According to descriptions by the lawyers in court, it appeared that a female FAA attorney who had attended closed hearings in the case went over with four upcoming witnesses from her agency the opening statements at the trial, the government's strategy and even the transcript of the questioning of an FBI agent on the first day.

"She was at the Classified Information Act procedures hearing and she should have known it was wrong," Novak said.

MacMahon said the government had told the defense she had wanted the witnesses to be very careful in discussing the FBI agent's acknowledgment that the FBI knew long before Sept. 11, 2001 that al-Qaida terrorists in the Philippines were working on a plan to fly an airplane into CIA headquarters.

The FAA attorney also apparently told the witnesses, erroneously Novak said, that the government was planning to say that magnetometers at airport check-ins are 100 percent effective.

Novak claimed there was no harm in that disclosure because the government is not going to make that argument.

Before the trial was recessed by Brinkema, the jury was to hear from the Minneapolis FBI agent who arrested Moussaoui -- perhaps the key witness in the trial. Special Agent Harry Samit's testimony is equally important to prosecutors and the defense at Moussaoui's sentencing trial.

Samit, who has already testified for the prosecution, faced cross-examination by the defense in U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors say that Samit and the FBI would have foiled the Sept. 11 attacks had Moussaoui confessed his membership in the al-Qaida terror network and his plans to hijack an airplane after he was arrested on Aug. 16, 2001, and interrogated by Samit.

The defense argues that Moussaoui's lies made no difference because Samit saw through them and was convinced that Moussaoui was a threat.

Up to now the burden of proof was this: To obtain the death penalty, prosecutors must first prove that Moussaoui's actions -- specifically, his lies -- were directly responsible for at least one death on Sept. 11.


3/13/2006 10:26:32

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 8:29:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/13/2006 8:30:38 AM EDT by five2one]

I beat ya by a minute or so.

eta: ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=445521

But I like your titile better -- more provocative.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 8:39:54 AM EDT
Hang that fucker!!!!!!!!! Somebody needs to
<--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 8:48:40 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 8:54:13 AM EDT

Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:
a part of me would like to see the .gov do whatever is needed to aff that asshole.

another part of me is bothered by this. If they had the great case they appeared to and seeing the defendant has pretty much admitted it. they still felt the need to violate the rules. What would they do against one of US with a bad case?



There is no 'THEY' in this first of all. The problem agency is the FAA- which is NOT a law enforcement agency- they coached their employees who were witnesses. Apparently they do this all the time when they testify in court- but they are not law enforcement and rarely testify in criminal trials so they get away with it. Civil trials this aparently goes on all the time.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 9:00:53 AM EDT
I was under the impression that the guy was found guilty, and this is only to decide on the penalty (basically death vs. life imprisonment).

Somehow, I would guess he will get the Dahlmer treatment in prison anyway, regardless of how protected he is.

AFARR
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 9:05:55 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:

Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:
a part of me would like to see the .gov do whatever is needed to aff that asshole.

another part of me is bothered by this. If they had the great case they appeared to and seeing the defendant has pretty much admitted it. they still felt the need to violate the rules. What would they do against one of US with a bad case?



There is no 'THEY' in this first of all. The problem agency is the FAA- which is NOT a law enforcement agency- they coached their employees who were witnesses. Apparently they do this all the time when they testify in court- but they are not law enforcement and rarely testify in criminal trials so they get away with it. Civil trials this aparently goes on all the time.


Oh boy, the FAA messed up big time then. They should've brought in lawyers from the the US DoJ & FBI as consultants. But I bet it was just an oversight on the FAA with huge implications.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 9:20:09 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:

Originally Posted By The_Beer_Slayer:
a part of me would like to see the .gov do whatever is needed to aff that asshole.

another part of me is bothered by this. If they had the great case they appeared to and seeing the defendant has pretty much admitted it. they still felt the need to violate the rules. What would they do against one of US with a bad case?



There is no 'THEY' in this first of all. The problem agency is the FAA- which is NOT a law enforcement agency- they coached their employees who were witnesses. Apparently they do this all the time when they testify in court- but they are not law enforcement and rarely testify in criminal trials so they get away with it. Civil trials this aparently goes on all the time.




I think it is very simple. It is either legal or not legal to coach a witness. In either case, the judge should have NO SAY at all. Half the judges let you coach them and the other half don't, there is no way in hell that is fair and equall treatment under the law.

I don't see the problem here, he confessed and there are no allegations of coercion. Go straight to the punishment phase. Also, why can he only be punished based on how the trial goes? How can a trial be clean enough for a life sentence, but not death.

There are only 3 ways to end a trial, Guilty, Not Guilty, and Miss Trial. One he goes free, and the other he gets the punishment that is written in law. Why is this so hard to understand.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 9:28:33 AM EDT

The stunning development came at the opening of the fifth day of the trial as the government had informed the judge and the defense over the weekend that a lawyer for the Federal Aviation Administration had coached four government FAA witnesses in violation of the rule set by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema. The rule was that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance.




O.k. I know I really shouldn't laugh, but anyone who has ever dealt with .gov lawyers knows that this is par for the course. Yes, of course there are a few good ones (usually federal prosecutors) but there are legions of idiots in the .gov ranks. Remember Marsha Clark? You know you have problems when you can't even run the high profile cases correctly.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 9:37:35 AM EDT
No problem, let him go free, there are millions of Americans that would love to make this guy disappear on the streets.......
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 9:38:27 AM EDT

Originally Posted By FunYun1983:
I don't see the problem here, he confessed and there are no allegations of coercion. Go straight to the punishment phase. Also, why can he only be punished based on how the trial goes? How can a trial be clean enough for a life sentence, but not death.

There are only 3 ways to end a trial, Guilty, Not Guilty, and Miss Trial. One he goes free, and the other he gets the punishment that is written in law. Why is this so hard to understand.



This IS the puinishment phase. He has already plead guilty. But the law says that only a jury that has heard the case may impose the death penalty. The .gov wants the death penalty, so a jury has to hear the case and decide if the facts of the case warrant imposing the death penalty. The "punishment that is written in law" is up to a jury to decide.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 10:05:57 AM EDT

Originally Posted By AFARR:
I was under the impression that the guy was found guilty, and this is only to decide on the penalty (basically death vs. life imprisonment).

Somehow, I would guess he will get the Dahlmer treatment in prison anyway, regardless of how protected he is.

AFARR



I don't know, the muslim gang-fu is strong in many prisons. I don't know how the National of Islam feels about these jihadist terrorists, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were sympathetic.

Link Posted: 3/13/2006 10:07:53 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 10:09:00 AM EDT
Trying a terrorist in a criminal court is a joke to begin with. Using our criminal justice system didn't really solve the problem after the 1993 WTC attack. Death penalty or not, it really doesn't matter-sentencing him to death won't deter other terrorists. It would make the victim's families feel better, but that can be achieved by making him do time in a minimum security prison, with no protective custody status. The problem will be solved in a few minutes by some patriotic American convicts.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 10:10:57 AM EDT

Originally Posted By five2one:

Originally Posted By AFARR:
I was under the impression that the guy was found guilty, and this is only to decide on the penalty (basically death vs. life imprisonment).

Somehow, I would guess he will get the Dahlmer treatment in prison anyway, regardless of how protected he is.

AFARR



I don't know, the muslim gang-fu is strong in many prisons. I don't know how the National of Islam feels about these jihadist terrorists, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were sympathetic.




True, but not strong enough to protect this guy from non-muslims in prison.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 11:29:07 AM EDT
Time for plan b. Slip a post-it note saying "Jews suck" into his wallet. Then send him out to lunch with a Mossad Agent, and he's paying.
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