Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Michael Caruso closes for Jose Padilla

I wasn't able to attend the closing arguments today, but reports back tell me that Padilla's lawyer, Michael Caruso, was incredible.

The initial AP coverage here.

I like the strong start:

"For five years, Jose Padilla has waited for this day," defense attorney Michael Caruso told jurors. "The day we could stand before you and ask for justice."

Then jabbing the government, while trying to humanize Padilla:

Some of his argument was delivered in front of a large screen featuring bright pictures of a smiling Padilla with two of his children, in stark contrast to the dark photo used by prosecutors of Padilla wearing a traditional Arab headdress.
Padilla's mother, Estela Lebron, looked on from a back row in the courtroom.
"They picked this picture to scare you, to instill fear," Caruso said.

And the theme, simple but strong:

"His intent was to study, not to murder," Caruso said.

What about the form:

The critical piece of physical evidence is a "mujahedeen data form" Padilla allegedly filled out in July 2000 to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. The form bears seven of Padilla's fingerprints, but Caruso said they are only found on the first page and the back of the final page - consistent with Padilla simply handling the form, rather than writing on it.
"It raises more questions than answers," Caruso said.

Similar defenses from the co-defendants' lawyers:

"Dr. Jayyousi wasn't buying bullets. Dr. Jayyousi wasn't buying ammunition. Dr. Jayyousi wasn't sending fighters over there," Swor said. "Dr. Jayyousi was providing relief."
Similar arguments were made Monday by lawyers for Hassoun, a Palestinian born in Lebanon who overstayed his U.S. visa and could be deported if found innocent or after his release from prison.
"Their passion was relief," Hassoun lawyer Kenneth Swartz said.

Now it's in the jury's hands. This is the worst time for trial lawyers, no? As soon as there is a verdict, we'll let you know.

BTW, what's with good reporters still referring to Padilla's lawyer as Andy Patel? He hasn't been Padilla's lawyer in a long time...

UPDATE -- more from Caruso's closing via the NYTimes and Reuters.

The challenge is issued:

“I defy the government to somehow argue that Jose had the intent to commit cold-blooded murder,” Mr. Caruso said.

It was important throughout the trial to distance Padilla from the other two defendants:

On Tuesday, Mr. Caruso sought to disassociate Mr. Padilla from the other defendants. The government secretly recorded thousands of their phone conversations from 1993 to 2001.
Mr. Padilla participated in seven wiretapped conversations presented at trial.
Prosecutors say Mr. Hassoun and Mr. Jayyousi used code words like “football” and “zucchini” to discuss plans to help violent jihad in places like Chechnya, Kosovo and Somalia. But, Mr. Caruso reminded jurors, they never said Mr. Padilla used such code.
Mr. Caruso also made a point of contrasting Mr. Padilla with the other defendants, emphasizing that he was younger, had less education and was a recent convert to Islam who did not speak fluent Arabic.
He even described Mr. Padilla as “slow” and reminded the jury that Mr. Padilla had worked at a Chicken Plus fast-food restaurant in Broward County before leaving for Egypt.
“These men are more different than they are alike,” Mr. Caruso said.

More re the form:

He conceded that seven of Mr. Padilla’s fingerprints were on the document, which the C.I.A. recovered in Afghanistan in 2001. But the fingerprints are on just the first page and the back of the last page, suggesting, Mr. Caruso said, that Mr. Padilla had merely handled the form, and had not filled it out.
He also pointed out that a palm print was found next to the signature line on the form, but that the government never requested Mr. Padilla’s palm print to see whether it matched.
“They were not trying to find the truth,” Mr. Caruso said. “They were trying to create a case.”

And finally, don't convict because of security:

"We don't achieve security by bringing these types of charges on this type of evidence."


An avid reader said...

David, you rock! Thanks for the info.

Rumpole said...

20 bucks says there is no verdict by Friday,

David Oscar Markus said...

You are probably right, but I'll take the action just for the fun of it. Plus, if I lose, who do I make the check out to?

Anonymous said...

I'm more interested in what the best guess is as to what these defendants will be taken into custody for right after the trial if their acquitted?

Oops, did I violate the Patriot Act by asking that question?

Anonymous said...

What, do you idiots need members of your own f*cking family killed by the islamic barbarians before you begin to understand islamic barbarianism? THEY WANT...well, if you don't know by now, you never will.

David said...

just becoming muslim is worth 10 years in prison. We should punish him just because he is so stupid.
Caruso is a fine example of why everyone despises lawyers.