Patterico's Pontifications


Verdict in the Holy Land Foundation Trial (Final Final Update)

Filed under: Law,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:16 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The verdict in the Holy Land Foundation terror trial in Dallas will be announced today, October 22, 2007, at 10:00 AM CST, which means it’s happening right now. I’ll update this when the verdict is made public.

[Note: The Final Final Update has been bumped to the top and earlier updates are beneath the fold. Also note that the quotes contained in the Final Update were correct when posted but, apparently, the linked article was subsequently replaced by a new version. The article initially stated there was a verdict of guilt as to one defendant on one count but that has been changed. I’m correcting this post to reflect that change.]

Final Final Update, 10/23/07 @7:00 pm CST: Even more amazing, the earlier Fort Worth Star-Telegram report linked in the Final Update was apparently wrong. There was not a conviction as to one defendant but there was a mistrial:

“Jurors finally indicated that they had reached verdicts last Thursday. But their decisions were sealed until Monday because federal District Judge A. Joe Fish was out of town.

As Fish read the results, it appeared that jurors had acquitted Abdulqader on all charges, El-Mezain and Abdulrahman Odeh on most charges, and failed to reach decisions on any counts involving Baker, Elashi or Holy Land itself. But even that partial result was precarious. When the judge polled each juror whether he or she agreed with the verdicts – normally a formality – things turned chaotic, as three jurors disavowed the vote.

Fish sent the jury back to resolve the differences, but after about an hour, they said they could not continue, and the judge declared a mistrial.”

See also comment 14, below.


Update 10/22/2007 @ 10:23 AM: The Dallas Morning News reports “The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was found not guilty of supporting terrorism by sending money to charity committees controlled by Hamas. The judge will now announce the jury’s verdicts on each Holy Land official. In all, the jury must make 197 decisions on guilt or innocence this morning.”

Update @ 10:27 AM: “The jury in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial was unable to reach unanimous decisions on three of the six defendants, U.S. District Judge Joe Fish said Monday as he unsealed their verdicts. On two others, they were able to reach unanimous decisions on some of the counts. And on only one defendant were they able to reach unanimous decisions on all counts.”

Update @ 10:40 AM: Mohammad El-Mezain, “[t]he original chairman and director of endowments of the Holy Land Foundation was found not guilty of supporting terrorism by sending money to charity committees controlled by Hamas.”

Update @ 11:01 AM: “U.S. District Judge Joe Fish ordered jurors back to the jury room to discuss whether further deliberations might allow them to reach unanimous decisions on the remaining defendants including the Holy Land Foundation itself. If not, he is likely to declare a hung jury on many counts in the complex case.”

Update @ 11:39 AM: Judge Fish declared a mistrial on the remaining counts. “Jurors had been unable to reach unanimous decisions on many of the nearly 200 counts against five defendants accused of financing terrorism. A government prosecutor says the Justice Department would retry the case.”

Final Update: There was a guilty verdict after all and, for the second time in two months, I’m writing about a case in which some jurors disavowed the verdict when they were polled. Amazing:

Three former leaders of what was once the nation’s largest Muslim charity were initially found not guilty of funneling illegal aid to terrorists. Charity fundraiser Mufid Abdulqader was cleared on all counts. Two others – El-Mezain and the group’s New Jersey representative, Abdulrahman Odeh – were acquitted on most counts.

Then as U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish was going through the typically routine process of asking each juror about his or her findings, three of them surprisingly said the verdicts read in court were wrong. The move caught the jury forewoman off guard. “When we voted, there was no issue in the vote,” she said. “No one spoke up any different. I really don’t understand where it is coming from. All 12 made that decision.”

About an hour later, Fish said he received a note from jury saying 11 of 12 feel further deliberations will not lead them to reach a unanimous decision. He declared a mistrial shortly after that.

When Fish polled the jurors a second time after more deliberations, they did find El-Mezain guilty of one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. However, he was acquitted of 31 other charges. They could not reach a verdict on the other two initially found not guilty.

Even before the confusion, jurors had not reached verdicts on charges against Holy Land as well as former chief executive Shukri Abu Baker and former chairman Ghassan Elashi.

So the bottom line seems to be there was a mistrial declared as to every defendant, although not on all counts.

14 Responses to “Verdict in the Holy Land Foundation Trial (Final Final Update)”

  1. Then we need a new system of justice–one that does not include juries comprised solely of people who are so stupid they need government help to tie their shoelaces….

    TheManTheMyth (9f3bd7)

  2. The bar may have been simply too high. We may need legislation that bans fund raising for organizations on the terrorism list or maybe take a leaf from the old crime fighting days and tax the funds. Remove the tax exempt status (If they have it as I suspect they do), and then prosecute for tax evasion. If it was good enough for Al Capone, it should be good enough for Hamas.

    Mike K (5a644f)

  3. Money is fungible. Money sent to any organization known to controlled by, let alone a front for, a terrorist organization, will advance the terrorist’s goals. Such organizations should flat out be outlawed.

    LarryD (feb78b)

  4. Wait, it gets better:

    Apparently three of the jurors announced that the verdict read in court was incorrect (?!?), and the judge sent the jury back to get it right this time.

    Truly bizarre…

    Robin Munn (18328f)

  5. What in the Wide World of Sports is going on here?

    Techie (c003f1)

  6. “Then we need a new system of justice–one that does not include juries comprised solely of people who are so stupid they need government help to tie their shoelaces…”


    Sure… because anyone who doesn’t agree with you (even though they heard the case, and you didn’t) must be too stupid to tie their shoelaces.

    Amendment time!

    Add it to the list…

    Leviticus (43095b)

  7. Judge Fish is going to get some well-deserved criticism for his conduct in connection with this verdict.

    As I understand the press reports, the verdict remained sealed until today because Judge Fish was unavailable last Thurs and Fri. I haven’t seen yet what it was that cause him to be unavailable.

    But, here was a case that was in trial for months. The jury deliberated for 19 days. There were obvious problems in the jury room based on the complaints of one or more of the jurors. Ultimately Judge Fish chose to give them an Allen charge — very uncommon and very risky from a legal standpoint — yet when the jury signals that they have a verdict, Judge Fish is away and can’t get back for 4 days.

    Unfortunately, this is a too familiar tale from my experience. One of my biggest complaints about district court judges before whom I have appeared is the attitude of SOME of them that the world revolves around their schedule. Everyone must arrange time and events to be available when the Judge wants the trial to start. But, for some judges, items on their schedule always take precedence over whatever else might be going on.

    Under the circumstances of this case, there shouldn’t have been anything that kept the judge from staying in the courthouse waiting for the verdict to come back.

    WLS (bafbcb)

  8. Jurors disputing the verdict that was read? Might it be that some of them were under duress?

    ras (adf382)

  9. Amazing indeed. Though I have never held out hope that our criminal justice system would be an efficient way to combat this front against Islamofascism.

    Justin Levine (ab0a31)

  10. Seems like the foreman has some explaining to do.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  11. We have alternate jurors; do we now need alternate judges, too?

    Of course, if we had a Congress that was concerned with oversight of unappropriate conduct by judges, an impeachment or two for derilection of duty might get some people back on the straight and narrow.

    Or, we could wait for A-Q to prevail, and these judges will be terminated with extreme prejudice.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  12. I don’t think the judge’s absence had anything to do with this. The case involved almost 200 counts and each probably had multiple subparts. There were also multiple defendants, likely with overlapping but not identical charges. With “only” 19 days of deliberations, that means the jury organized, elected a foreperson, reviewed and discussed the evidence, and deliberated and voted on an average of 11 counts a day. That’s hard work and not much fun. Somewhere along the way, someone got confused OR someone had second thoughts. That’s why we have the option to poll the jury.

    Now everyone (except these jurors) gets to do most of it all over again.

    DRJ (35ac59)

  13. What one should know, but the government and the citizens ignor, is that the IRS, by approving what is a religion and/or non-profit organization, shifts tax burdens to all citizens. Thus, according to my calculations, if $12,000,000 was fundled to suscide bombers, you,I and all the rest paid an additional $4,000,000 in taxes which is simply for funding the suscide bombers. Like to know what someone thinks of that. It is a hard,cold, fact, that the government does not disclose.

    MSD ATTORNEY (8f8037)

  14. Apparently there wasn’t a guilty verdict after all, despite the contrary report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram I linked above. Plus, I get some serious reaming from Comments from Left Field for believing the Star-Telegram’s initial report. The blog’s author, MacSwain, notes one juror’s post-verdict interview who apparently suggests most jurors were skeptical of the government’s case but a few were dedicated to finding guilt despite the evidence.

    I’ll update the post to reflect this new information. Thanks to Macswain for the heads up, even though he clearly doesn’t care for me.

    DRJ (fb1a22)

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