Patterico's Pontifications

12/26/2009

More on the Legal Aspects of the Terror Trials

Filed under: Law,Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In support of the Obama Administration’s decision to try some Guantanamo detainees in New York City, Attorney General Eric Holder said the decision to pick New York City’s civilian courts instead of military courts was based “strictly on which venues he thought would bring the strongest prosecution.”

Mayor Bloomberg agreed, saying it is “fitting” that the terrorists who planned 9/11 would face justice in a Manhattan courtroom, just blocks from the site of the Twin Towers. Objections by Republicans were treated as no more than partisan rhetoric.

Now reality sets in at the New York Times:

“Since the government’s announcement that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would be tried with others in Manhattan in connection with the 9/11 attacks, some lawyers and others have expressed skepticism that such a trial will ever be held in the city.

They are confident that defense lawyers will ask that the trial be moved, and believe that a judge might even consent.

But a review of previous terrorism trials and interviews with lawyers involved in those cases and other legal experts show that such an outcome is hardly guaranteed.”

The article notes it will be difficult to find any American venue where potential jurors won’t be affected by 9/11. In addition, some defendants may not want a change of venue, preferring to take advantage of the New York City soapbox:

“Much is unknown about the forthcoming cases against Mr. Mohammed and four others. No public indictment has been released; no judge has been picked. It is not clear that Mr. Mohammed will even mount a defense. And he may want his trial to be a soapbox of sorts, blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.

If he does seek to defend himself, some lawyers say a motion for change of venue would almost be mandatory because of 9/11’s impact on the city.”

Further, New York City jurors can be unpredictable and they may not go along with the Obama Administration’s promise to convict the detainees or sentence them to the death penalty:

“To block the death penalty, the defense needs only a single holdout, the kind of free-thinking juror who might conclude, for example, that a lifetime in solitary confinement would be greater punishment for a terrorist seeking martyrdom.

Not all American jury pools have the diversity and open-mindedness that New Yorkers are famous for,” said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia law professor and former federal prosecutor in Manhattan. “I suspect people elsewhere would probably be a whole lot quicker to close their ears to anything the defendants had to say.”

My gut says the people most likely to be picked as terror trial jurors will be the “diverse, open-minded” ones.

— DRJ

23 Responses to “More on the Legal Aspects of the Terror Trials”

  1. My gut says the people most likely to be picked as terror trial jurors will be the “diverse, open-minded” ones.

    That isn’t exactly what I would call it.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  2. New Yorkers are famous for their tolerance toward like minded individuals.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  3. It’s conservatives they hate.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  4. Didn’t they do a poll where a large amount of Democrats claimed to be truthers? At random, 65% of the jury in New York will be Democrats and between a third and a half of those will be truthers. You got to expect that three jurors will believe that Bush, not Muslims, are responsible for the attacks and they will not be convinced even by a confession.

    Here’s a thought. I don’t know if would be legal, but it would be hard for an opposition to form against it: What if the judge asked the jury pool “raise your hand if you feel that there is any possibility that 9/11 was the work of anyone except radical Muslims”. Then the judge outright dismisses everyone who raises their hand.

    Then again, it might be the good ones who raise their hand to demonstrate their fairness while the truthers would conceal their truthiness by keeping their hands down. I dunno.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  5. How can a Muslim get a fair trial without a jury of his/her/its peers?

    highpockets (bb65bc)

  6. Two thirds of New York City calls bull shit on the government story of 911. When anyone looks honestly at the documentaries with enough evidence within them, to sink the perps deeply, if justice was a reality.

    For God’s sake, look at history. The number of quotes I could come here with, of various historical icons telling you that war is a means of financial enterprise, criminal in its operations, and international.

    James Madison, Dwight Eisenhower, Abe Lincoln, General Smedley Butler (wrote a book on it, called “War is a Racket”). The racket of war has no honorable merit whatsoever. It’s criminality in operating goes in accordance with mainstream media. Why do you think that is? Cuz, they are so GD wealthy that they own the media too, therefore,they own your support, because they feed your brain, albeit candy coated popcorn, with a sprinkle of cayenne. You all oblige. While thousands of innocent human beings are slaughtered without need. Lies, lies, lies and families are blown to pieces. We started it. Dare look at what’s out there, even if it’s “way out there”. Truth is stranger than fiction. Hell documentation, if you really want the truth, start looking at both sides. Who has the most amassed body of information and who has the largest assortment of professionals of every relevant feild to easily call bull shit on the government.

    The finest of humanity goes to be honorable, sacrificing for the “good of humanity”, so they think, not so though. It’s for acquisition of corporate entities, enmenshed with government. Again, look at history corporate/Pentagon alliances are not pretty. Ask the aforementioned in previous paragraph. They speak through the internet, you know, that is, their words are easily found through the this information highway. I suggest you go have a conversation with them. That would require opening your mind though. It’s democracy, don’t be afraid of it. But don’t assume it’s the same honorable sorts running the show anymore. It’s all corporate accomplishments. The government and the corporate defense industry are the same thing. Profits come first, and you don’t, and they are politicians.

    War is the ugliest of rackets, of anything, and they don’t have to happen if crooks get honestly exposed. Be honest with yourself. Start looking into things further. Stop taking MSM at face value.

    humanity's patriot (bf4264)

  7. “Free-thinking” “diverse” and “open-minded” are not descriptions I would care to give someone who would not vote for the execution of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Of course, as we all know, intent has something to do with it…

    chaos (9c54c6)

  8. “In support of the Obama Administration’s decision to try some Guantanamo detainees in New York City, Attorney General Eric Holder said the decision to pick New York City’s civilian courts instead of military courts was based “strictly on which venues he thought would bring the strongest prosecution.”

    utter horseshit: under the International Laws of Land Warfare, illegal combatants are subject to summary execution.

    i submit that *that* is the strongest prosecution available, and that everything else is politicized crap.

    Scouts Out.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  9. How can a Muslim get a fair trial without a jury of his/her/its peers?

    To be consistent, any Catholic, Protestant, Mormon or atheist facing a jury trial should be able to make the same point – if we were talking religion and not ideology. But of course, therein lies the distinct difference.

    Dana (f64b7d)

  10. They tried OJ in downtown LA. How did that turn out?

    Alta Bob (e8af2b)

  11. I hope KSM won’t forget to visit the Carnegie Deli while he’s in town, for a “taste of New York”.

    GeneralMalaise (a38f27)

  12. Greetings from back in the ancestral homeland ! A tad chillier than SoCal, yet a refreshing, brisk even, change !

    Surely a jury of peers for a religious extremist is a bunch of religious extremists … so the jury should be Fred Phelps, Kahanist Jews, Koresh followers, etc …

    Alasdair (928847)

  13. To the lawyers out there, how hard would it be for a small number of city employees to game the jury summons for a KSM, et al trial? By gaming I mean increase the summons to Americans of descent from Islamic countries? Not that it would take many to cause jury problems, maybe just one on the jury would be enough for a mistrial. We’ve seen how AQ has gotten to interpretors at Guantanamo, a US Major, why not poorly paid city employees?

    richardb (dfaf9b)

  14. Of course they should give KSH life in prison. He WANTS to be martyred. Let him rot in a supermax and be forgotten!

    JEA (e4fc35)

  15. #13 And drizzle a little bacon fat over his breakfast eggs. He will wonder why they taste so good.

    PatAZ (9d1bb3)

  16. It will not be a “typical” New York City jury as the Southern District of New York includes six suburban counties.

    Charlie B (e112f0)

  17. “My gut says the people most likely to be picked as terror trial jurors will be the “diverse, open-minded” ones.”

    Mine too!

    This will go down as the dumbest move evah by any American Administration in History! Even worse than Jimmy Carter’s response to the Iran Hostage Situation.

    J. Raymond Wright (e8d0ca)

  18. Speculating:
    One of Hasan’s co-congregants said Hasan did the right thing, and he would never condemn his actions.
    Suppose he got on a jury?
    Can a prosecutor dismiss all Muslims from the jury?

    Richard Aubrey (1a4ab0)

  19. How about some “diverse, open-minded” NYC Black Muslims for jurors? It’s about the best we can do for “a jury of peers” and if certified pure at heart by Imam Louis Farakhan, surely, that ought to satisfy everyone except those bitter bible thumpers and gun clingers living on the angry streets of Obama’s biggest healthcare collective.

    ropelight (55b827)

  20. I wouldn’t expect any judge to be totally scrupulous in handling for-cause challenges to members of the venire who’ve expressed beliefs that scare the crap out of normal Americans. They’ll be totally scrupulous for the defense, of course–don’t want to be accused of denying anyone a fair trial–but the prosecutors should be sweating bullets over this.

    From what I’ve seen (for whatever that’s worth), some judges absolutely hate jury selection, especially when one side (or both sides) will try to get lots of members of the venire excluded. It’s a boring and tedious process, and anything that makes it longer will be about as welcome as a genital wart. Some judges get very impatient and try to nudge the prospective jurors into saying that they’ll be neutral. Even if some fairly disturbing and non-neutral belief is expressed, some judges will still ask leading questions designed to elicit an answer that the person can be fair and impartial. (How do you answer “No” to such a question? Some people do, and that’s to their credit, but it’s hard.) At some point they want to get jury selection over and done with. And they’ll reject for-cause challenges to those veniremen because those venireman did eventually say that they would be fair. (Which means very little. Who thinks of himself as unfair?)

    This process doesn’t always redound to the disadvantage of the prosecution. But if this process occurs here, I think it will hurt the prosecution and only the prosecution. Partly because the judge will bend over backwards for the defense, so that the prosecution is more likely to bear the brunt of whatever nudging the judge does. Also partly because, as j curtis pointed out, this is New York we’re talking about here–the Bethlehem of Blame America First.

    Alan (07ccb5)

  21. “Peers’ are not people exactly like the defendent. The Enron execs weren’t tried in front of other multi-millionaires. And as for a change of venue, any prosecutor with their salt will argue it doesn’t matter because everywhere in ths US has heard of 9/11.

    JEA (e4fc35)

  22. … And as for a change of venue, any prosecutor with their salt will argue it doesn’t matter because everywhere in the US has heard of 9/11

    The defense’s logical response is “and therefore, the defendant cannot get a fair trial anywhere in the US.” Considering that the Administration has guaranteed the results of the trail before it’s even begun, I can’t see any way to effectively respond to that.

    LarryD (feb78b)

  23. …gaming the system…
    Only call prospective jurors from Staten Island.

    AD - RtR/OS! (191d21)


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