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.