Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jose Padilla's bond hearing

I attended most of the bail hearing for Jose Padilla this morning in front of Magistrate Barry Garber. Although I didn't stay for the stunning conclusion, after you read my summary, I'm sure you'll be able to surmise whether Mr. Padilla will be serving the next nine months at liberty or in the special housing unit of the Detention Center.

The hearing started out with the arraignment of Padilla. Chief Assistant Federal Defender Michael Caruso said Padilla is "absolutely not guilty." Caruso was flanked by Tony Natale, Orlando do Campo, and Andy Patel.

Although the courtroom was packed, it seemed that less press attended the hearing and the security (although more than for any other defendant) was not as thick as it was for the previous two hearings. I counted around 10 marshals and court security officers. Padilla's mom and other family members were also in attendance.

Garber asked Padilla whether he pronounced his name padiYa or padiLLa and Padilla responded with the hard L -- Padilla.

AUSA Stephanie Pell was the government lawyer who handled the proffer to the Court. She went through the indictment, explaining that Padilla was recruited to travel overseas to participate in a violent Jihad. They even have what they believe to be his application to be a member of Al Queda and numerous intercepts from FISA. She also explained that they had cooperating witnesses. Her proffer lasted about an hour and is too long to reproduce here. Pell was joined by AUSA Russ Killinger and an agent.

Michael Caruso, who referred to his client as Jose, then asked the Court if he could question the agent on the case. He specifically wanted to ask about translations and the application. He also wanted to ask the agents about the "methods of interrogation" of the cooperating witnesses. He said that he needed to question the agent because "weak is not even the right word to describe the evidence against Jose."

Garber denied the request to question an agent saying that Caruso wanted to conduct a minitrial. Caruso tried again, and a funny exchange ensued with Caruso saying that they had plenty of time because Garber kept the case instead of putting it on the regular calendar and Caruso was thankful that Garber did so. Garber responded: "You're thankful even after I ruled against you?" Caruso: "I'm trying to butter you up." Garber: "Nice try. But denied."

Caruso then went into the history of confinement with Padilla -- how he was in total isolation without a lawyer, family or anything for 2 years. Then he got a lawyer, but he still was in a military prison with 10 cells and he was the only prisoner. "It is far beyond what any other American citizen has had to endure," said Caruso.

Both sides then went back and forth over the risk of flight and danger to the community and I had to leave. But based on Garber's refusal to allow the agent to be questioned, I have to assume that he will grant the government's request for pre-trial detention. More when I can confirm it.

UPDATE -- confirmed. Here's the AP article. And here's the drawing of Padilla and AUSA Pell. I'm usually a fan of Shirley Henderson's work, but I don't think this picture does Pell justice and I think it makes Padilla look older and thicker than he looked in court.


Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous miscarriage of justice. I am ashamed to be a part of this nation. The constitution means nothing. It never has. We, the people, have been doomed since 1776 because our founding fathers did not write a document that discourages government intrusion, it encourages it by the vague language it contains.

Anonymous said...

You forget the American Rule, ie., If you have power and/or money you get better justice than if you don't have power and/or money.
If you are poor and/or look and sound "different" you get fucked.
America is more about power and money than it is about justice.
We have made some progress over the years, but with King George in charge it's all slipping away.

Anonymous said...

I agree with HillBilly: this is a tremendous miscarriage of justice. Stephanie Pell is a little hottie and this rendering is the work of a jealous artist. Have you ever seen Stephanie in her little jeans and black leather jacket? I said LEATHER! Hello!

Anonymous said...

Fry this beaner for dinner. Why waste the money. hang him