Wednesday, August 10, 2005

More on the Cuban Five

Howard Bashman does his typical wonderful job covering all the press about this case:
The Miami Herald contains this article today. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports today that "Court discards convictions of 5 Cubans accused of spying." The Chicago Tribune reports that "U.S. dealt setback on spies; Appellate court rules 5 Cuban agents were unfairly tried in Miami." In The New York Sun, Josh Gerstein reports that "Court Orders New Trial For 'Cuban Five.'"
And BBC News reports that "Havana hails US Cuban spy retrial; The Cuban government has welcomed a US appeal court decision to retry five Cubans convicted of spying."

Now that I've read the opinion a couple of interesting points:

1. Professor Gary Moran (from Florida International University's psychology department) did a venue survey pre-trial. He concluded that it would be impossible to receive a fair trial in Miami. The district court did not credit the survey, but the 11th Circuit quotes from it at length. I've used Gary Moran as a jury consultant and he (and his brother Bill) do great work.

2. The 11th Circuit relies not just on the publicity surrounding this case (of which there was a ton), but also relies on the Elian case, the government's admission in a civil case that there was community prejudice on this issue, witnsses during trial who baited the defense lawyers (even asking them if they were doing Fidel's bidding), and the government's comments throughout the trial (especially during rebuttal closing) mixing references to the Holocaust and Pearl Harbor and complaining to the jury that these "spies sent to destroy" this community had a legal defense "paid for by American taxpayers. "

3. A couple people have mentioned to me that this is the first reported decision of a federal criminal conviction reversed based on the denial of a motion for change of venue.

4. The venue motions were prepared by Joaquin Mendez (who, along with Richard Klugh, argued the issue on appeal) and Bill Norris, which relied on the survey by Moran.

5. Many have criticized the 11th Circuit and its opinion as being "liberal" or supporting "communism." It's an interesting criticism of a court that many would call the most conservative appellate court in the country. It's a recent and troubling trend of criticizing judges and courts when there is disagreement with a decision.


Henry Louis Gomez said...

Perhaps you should see what they are saying about your buddy Gary Moran and his "study" now.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

I work in marketing, and I work with research and surveys on a regular basis. I have written an extensive blog post about the design of Mr. Moran's survey for the case of the "Miami 5" at