Friday, July 13, 2007

Government rests in Padilla

Lots of coverage of the Government resting today in the Jose Padilla trial ON FRIDAY THE 13th!

USA Today has this about the final witness from today:

The final prosecution witness Friday was FBI linguist Joyce Kandalaft, who testified that Hassoun's name and telephone number were on a card containing various names and numbers that Padilla was carrying when he was arrested.
She also testified about notations in Arabic made on checks written by Hassoun to Muslim charities and other entities that included the word "tourism." The government contends the word was code for violent jihad. The notations also frequently mentioned support for "brothers."
"Have you ever known the word brother to mean mujahedeen brother?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Killinger.
"Yes, I have," Kandalaft replied.
Kandalaft also testified that Hassoun had included a verse from the Quran on one check that translates to: "And those who do wrong should soon come to know what punishment awaits them."


Strong ending for the Government. It's a nice circle -- tie the defendants together and get back to the coded language.

Then, according to the Herald's Jay Weaver:

"The United States would rest its case in chief at this time,'' prosecutor Russell Killinger said.... U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke gave a stern warning to the 12 Miami-Dade jurors not to talk about the case with anyone, nor to read or watch anything about it. ''You will have to be extra super-duper cautious,'' Cooke advised the jurors, instructing them to return on Thursday, when the defense will begin its case.

Why do lawyers always talk in "woulds"? I would rest; I would argue; I would call so and so witness. It's weird, no? I do it too, I guess, and I don't know why. I like how Judge Cooke says to be "extra super-duper cautious." I always wonder whether jurors really listen to these instructions or whether they hop on the internet...

Here's the AP article by Curt Anderson, which talks about this blog's coverage. Here's the intro to the article:

For a star defendant whose name is known around the world, Jose Padilla has become almost a bit player in his terrorism support trial and some observers say the federal government may not have proved its case against him.
Prosecutors rested their case Friday after nine weeks, 22 witnesses and dozens of FBI wiretap intercepts played at trial, most of them in Arabic with written translations for jurors. Defense lawyers for Padilla and his two co-defendants begin presenting their case next week.


Despite the strong finish, I'm one of those observers:

"Although everyone has been referring to this case as the Padilla trial, the government's case against Padilla has been pretty thin," said David O. Markus, a Miami defense attorney who has frequently written about the case on his legal blog.

I say this because most of the Government's case, including the vast majority of the phone calls played for the jury, involved the other two defendants. As I said before, I think the case against Padilla really comes down to the terror camp form and whether the jury believes that Padilla filled it out and whether they believe he did so with the intent to murder. If yes on both, convicted. If no on either, NG.

The former U.S. Attorney, Guy Lewis, is another observer:

Former Miami U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis said prosecutors often are forced to present a "watered-down" case when much evidence is classified to protect national security. It's also a tougher case when there's no "smoking gun" or witness who can swear the defendants committed illegal acts.
"It's a loose-knit conspiracy with very few overt acts," Lewis said. "You didn't catch them committing a terrorist act. Talk only, and talk is cheap."


And, of course, there's the jurors dressing up:

Jurors have sometimes shown up for duty in coordinated clothing, most notably in rows of red, white and blue before the July 4 holiday. That has prompted much speculation among lawyers and legal bloggers about whether they are unified or sending a pro-government message.
"If everyone is thinking the same way at such an early stage, defense lawyers get nervous," Markus said. "Or the prosecution could be nervous because this is obviously a happy jury. Happy juries in a terrorism trial might not be good."
Or, he added, they might simply be bored.

7 comments:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Congrats on the quote.

Rumpole said...

I am a big believer in standing, clearing my throat, looking right at the jury, waiting a moment or two, and saying very loudly "May it please the court. The Defense rests."

Anonymous said...

oh my god markus, the man who says we have to have a moment of silence for the rodriguez orijuela brothers, says the case is thin, killinger must be losing sleep.

Markus the day you ever say anything positive about a prosecutor or the government in general i might have a heart attack

Anonymous said...

I think it's probably the appropriate time to start discussing a topic that nobody has really mentioned for years, if at all. If the jury does happen to acquit Mr. Padilla of all charges, will the Bush Administration simply re-designate him as an "enemey combatant?" To do otherwise would let Mr. Padilla make a very public "reverse perp walk" out of the courthouse doors as a free man -- and thereby deal a humiliating blow to the Administration's entire handling of this matter, and indeed its broader "terrorist detention" policy. Recall that the Administration's intentional frustration of the 4th Circuit Padilla litigation -- by simply charging him under the auspices of an Article III court -- does not mean, under this Administration's "interesting" view of the law, that he cannot simply be re-designated at any time. Marquis, your thoughts?

David Oscar Markus said...

Ugh. I just typed this long comment which got deleted. My general thought was that Bush would never do it because of the political fallout and because of the very real chance of a backlash from the courts. But... He does now have Alito and Roberts, which changes the calculus. Still, no way he tries to redesignate Padilla. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Never underestimate the extent to which the Administration will go, nor the radical steps it will take, rather than admit that it has made a mistake in the past.

tulsi said...

The dirty-bomb allegations were dropped, and alleged admissions Padilla made to interrogators in a Navy brig have not been presented during the trial. That’s partly because Padilla was not allowed to consult an attorney during questioning. Prosecutors also don’t want to discuss Padilla’s treatment at the brig, which Padilla’s lawyers have said amounted to torture.
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