Patterico's Pontifications


Government Can Pursue Death Penalty Against Moussaoui

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 9:31 pm

It looks like Judge Brinkema took my suggestion from this morning. (Or maybe she just happened to rule the way my post suggested. Whatever.)

Moussaoui Penalty Trial Halted Due to Misconduct by Government Lawyer

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:25 am

Every American should be furious at Carla Martin, the government lawyer who has compromised the government’s bid to execute Zacarias Moussaoui:

The prosecution’s carefully laid strategy to secure the death penalty against confessed terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui neared collapse Monday when an incensed federal judge halted his sentencing trial and ordered a hearing to investigate apparent witness tampering by government officials.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema took under advisement a defense request to drop the death penalty from the case, which would leave life in prison as the only possible sentence.

Martin violated the first rule any litigator learns upon walking into a courtroom: follow the judge’s lawful orders.

Although some preparation of witnesses is common, Brinkema issued a special order Feb. 22 warning that in the Moussaoui case, witnesses must not be coached and should not be read or provided transcripts of opening statements or testimony of other witnesses.

The government notified the court Monday that Carla Martin, a senior TSA lawyer, had done just that by sending copies of court transcripts — as well as summaries of the testimony of FBI Supervisory Agent Michael Anticev, the government’s first witness in the sentencing phase — around to the seven witnesses.

“We really are left speechless, frankly,” prosecutor David J. Novak told the judge, conceding that Martin’s actions were “wholly improper” and could seriously hamper the government’s case.

It’s clear that the judge is taking this seriously:

“In all the years I have been on the bench,” Brinkema told a hushed and crowded courtroom, “I have never seen such an egregious violation.”

A judge for 12 years, she called a government lawyer’s attempt to shape the testimony of seven key witnesses a “significant error … affecting the constitutional rights of this defendant and, more importantly, the integrity of the criminal justice system in this country.”

Having made such a sweeping statement, the judge has committed herself to taking some fairly drastic action to remedy the harm caused by Martin.

However, taking death off the table entirely would be an overreaction. Martin should be brought before the court and severely sanctioned for her egregious violation. The court should consider whether it is necessary to strike the testimony of the witnesses who were improperly influenced — a remedy that would seriously harm the government’s case. But absent a showing that these measures are insufficient to cure the error, any remedy should end there.

Mrs. P.’s Quote Quiz #1

Filed under: Music — Patterico @ 6:01 am

I enjoyed last week’s music quote quiz, and I am going to enjoy this week’s even more, because I get to participate. Mrs. P. has selected the quotes this week, so I will be doing some guessing along with the rest of you. And I am probably going to leave you all in my dust.

Very important: Mrs. P. is instituting different rules this week. You must give your answers before you read the comments. Just as Googling is cheating, reading the comments first is cheating. Thus, all correct answers from non-cheaters will be counted, and not just the first correct answers.

Scoring is the same as last time: 5 points per correct band, and 1 point per correct song title. 60 points total are possible. Mrs. P. is the final judge.

No whining.

Here are the quotes:


If You’re Really Going for Shock Value . . .

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:00 am

It just occurred to me: will any comedian have the guts to do The Aristocrats joke — featuring Mohammed?

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