Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jose Padilla's First Appearance


I attended Jose Padilla's first appearance today in the Southern District of Florida. Magistrate Judge Barry Garber presided. The lead Miami prosecutor on the case is Russell Killinger, a well-respected veteran in the Southern District of Florida. In court, Judge Garber told Padilla that his lawyers, Andrew Patel and Donna Newman, called chambers and said they wanted to appear, so the Judge postponed the hearing until tomorrow at 4PM. Just in case, the Miami Federal Public Defender's office was present in court.

Padilla appeared calm in court, answering the Judge politely with short yes-or-no responses. Garber explained to Padilla his rights, which was interesting as Padilla has been held for the past three years while lawyers wrangled over what sorts of rights he has.

Padilla had a short haircut. He was wearing glasses, black sneakers and an orange jumpsuit. The amount of security was amazing. Helicopters were flying over the courthouse. There were numerous marshals and court security officers in the courtroom. And there was lots of press. I'm sure they were disappointed by the three minute hearing.

Nevertheless, there was a certain electricity in the courtroom. The Southern District is a very exciting place to practice law right now, especially with Padilla and Abramoff fighting for above-the-fold coverage.

1 comment:

Don Rehkopf said...

David,
That was probably Padilla's first appearance "outside" in 3 1/2 years of military confinement, 2 of which held totally incommunicado, to include other Brig prisoners; and for 1 1/2 years, visits only by his long-suffering attorneys, Donna Newman and Andy Patel. The "conditions" of his confinement, may or may not be classified, but had he been in any State or Federal confinement facility under the same conditions, there would have been little doubt that 8th Amendment issues would have been flying. I have been lucky to have helped Donna and Andy since June of 2002, and who would have ever thought [prior to Ashcroft] that we in the Defense Bar, would view a client's transfer to an MCC with helicopter cover, as a Defense victory. The next "battle" is most likely to be that the government will claim that everything about his stay in the Brig is "classified," because it will reveal "intelligence" techniques. If ever there will be a battle to fight over exposing this BS [and, "techniques" are not classified in any event], it will certainly come here. I urge you and your Florida ACDL colleagues to get an "amicus" committee formed to deal with the plethora of peripheral but fundamental issues that this litigation is going to raise. Regards from "up North...." Don Rehkopf