The Justices agreed to hear an appeal by the federal government in United States v. Davila (12-167), testing what the remedy is to be in a plea-bargained criminal case when a federal judge had some role leading up to agreement on the plea deal. The Eleventh Circuit Court ruled that, if the judge (in this case, a magistrate judge) has any role whatsoever in the plea talks, the guilty plea that resulted must be thrown out. The government petition argued that the guilty plea should be overturned only if the judge’s participation had resulted in prejudice to the accused.2. Openings were conducted on Friday before Judge Scola in the Pakistani Taliban case. The case is moving at an incredible clip. Voir dire in a couple days, and each party only requested 20 minutes for opening statements. The Herald coverage, via Jay Weaver:
Hafiz Khan, a hunched man with a flowing white beard, was called the “Santa Claus imam” by the youngsters who attended his modest Flagler Mosque in Miami.
But on Friday, a federal prosecutor portrayed the 77-year-old Muslim cleric as an evil man who spewed hateful words about his adopted country and funneled at least $50,000 to support the Pakistani Taliban terrorist organization in violent attacks against U.S. interests overseas.
His goal, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley said in opening statements of Khan’s terrorism trial, was to help arm the Taliban militants with weapons for their mission to topple the Pakistan government and carry out terrorist attacks against the U.S. military abroad.
“This is no man of peace,” Shipley told the 12-person federal jury Friday. “This is not a religious leader that any of you would respect.’’
Hafiz Khan’s attorney, Khurrum Wahid, said in opening statements that prosecutors have created a “caricature” of his client, asserting that his words were “hyperbole” and “contrary” to the Taliban’s violent campaign. Wahid said his client was driven by a “love” for the people in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, where he was born and raised before becoming a Muslim leader and founder of a madrassa religious school.
“You’re going to hear he loved helping the poor and needy,” Wahid told jurors. “You’re going to hear he’s not pro-Taliban. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. ... You’re going to hearing of no evidence that the money went for guns. ...You’re going to hear it was for the madrassa, the love of his life.”3. Cops vs. Cops. Rick vs. Rick. The Altonaga trial is underway with Rick Del Toro and Rick Diaz battling it out. From Scott Hiaasen:
The younger Khan’s defense lawyer, Joseph Rosenbaum, minced the prosecution’s case against his client, saying that Izhar rarely came up in FBI-recorded phone conversations and was not personally responsible for sending any money to the Taliban.
Rosenbaum said that Izhar never heard a potentially incriminating voice mail message left on his answering machine by his father to pick up $300 from a South Florida donor, that the father said had been “approved for the mujahideen,” or Taliban militants.
A pair of veteran Miami narcotics detectives testified in federal court Friday against their former supervisor, accusing Sgt. Raul Iglesias of scheming to plant cocaine on a suspect and once carrying what appeared to be a bag of crack in his personal bag.
Detectives Suberto Hernandez and Luis Valdes told jurors that Iglesias asked the pair if they had any “throw-down dope” to plant on a drug suspect after a search of the man during a Jan. 27, 2010, surveillance operation turned up no drugs.
“He looked at myself and Hernandez and he asked for throw-down dope,” said Valdes, an officer for nearly nine years. “I said, ‘We don’t do that here. Nobody on this team does it.’ ”
Iglesias, 40, is on trial facing nine counts of conspiracy to possess cocaine, violating suspects’ civil rights, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The charges stem from what federal prosecutors have described as four separate incidents of misconduct over a four-month period in 2010, when Iglesias led a team in the police department’s Crime Suppression Unit, which targets street-level drug sales.***But under cross-examination from Iglesias’ lawyer, Rick Diaz, Valdes conceded that he did not see Martinez hand the drugs to Iglesias. Nor did he see Iglesias plant the baggie on Rafael Hernandez. Iglesias told the detectives he found the drugs in the back pocket of Rafael Hernandez’s jeans — though neither detective saw Iglesias search the suspect.
Diaz challenged the detectives’ stories and suggested that Iglesias simply found evidence that Detective Hernandez had overlooked. The lawyer questioned how thorough Hernandez was in his search, noting that, in a case in 2004, the detective had failed to find drugs on a suspect who was later found to be carrying them.
And in an interview with Internal Affairs detectives and an FBI agent in May 2010, Diaz told the jury, Detective Hernandez described his search of the suspect as merely a “pat down” — a less intrusive type of search that does not include searching the contents of a suspect’s pockets.
Valdes and Hernandez also said they once saw a bag of what appeared to be crack cocaine in a military-style bag that Iglesias owned. They said the bag was not marked as evidence or part of a police-issued “sting kit” used when officers pretend to be drug dealers in reverse stings. But Diaz argued that the bag may have contained “sham” drugs or household items that merely looked like drugs.
If the detectives thought Iglesias was carrying illegal drugs or planting evidence, Diaz asked, then why didn’t the officers complain to their superiors, or even arrest Iglesias?