Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Fed Screw The Pooch On Moussaoui Trial

My Way News:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - Prosecutors seeking the death penalty against confessed terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui told a federal judge that it would be a waste of time to continue the trial after key government witnesses were barred from testifying.

The government is considering an appeal of U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema's decision Tuesday that guts roughly half of the federal case against Moussaoui.

Brinkema issued the sanctions because a government lawyer violated trial rules by coaching witnesses on their testimony and improperly giving them access to trial transcripts.

Brinkema delayed the trial until Monday to give prosecutors a chance to sort out their options.
What gets me here is that the government lawyer totally dissed the judge by coaching the witnesses after being explicitly instructed not to do so. Did she think the judge wouldn't notice? And what does this say about our federal justice system if the prosecutors don't feel a need to follow the law (disregarding a judge's orders in trial is a big no-no)? It's like they don't know that to break the rules ends the game, and in this case the loser is Justice for All.
Federal rules of evidence prohibit witnesses from exposure to trial testimony because of the possibility they will alter their testimony based on what they learn.

"I don't think in the annals of criminal law there has ever been a case with this many significant problems," Brinkema said after Tuesday's hearing uncovered even more government misconduct.
What was she thinking, this lawyer named Carla Martin? Was it just the drive to win at any cost? Is the case against Moussaoui that weak that she felt the need to cheat?
E-mails written by Martin reveal she believed prosecutors had overstated the FAA's ability to prevent the 9/11 attacks in their opening statement to the jury, and the FAA witnesses had to be prepared for aggressive cross-examination as a result.

Tuesday's hearing revealed even more missteps by Martin. In one instance, defense lawyers sought to meet with two TSA employees who might be called as defense witnesses, but Martin falsely told the defense that the two were unwilling to meet with them.
Or was it something else, something that may have caused an even bigger problem for the Feds?
The witnesses were expected to testify that they would have issued alerts and implemented security measures at the airports if Moussaoui had revealed his al-Qaida membership and the true intent of his flight training when he was arrested and interrogated by federal agents in August 2001.


Outside the courthouse, Abraham Scott of Springfield, Va., whose wife Janice Marie died at the Pentagon on 9/11, called Brinkema's ruling "a fair decision," though he was disappointed that the stricken testimony will not expose some of the FAA's failings prior to the attacks.
Remember that an FBI agent had requested a warrant to look at Moussaoui's computer drive but was dismissed by a superior who told her it wasn't worth the effort. Would open testimony on the subject have given the government another black eye when approval ratings are already in the toilet? Hmmmm. Or was it just hubris and incompetence, two other sine-qua-nons of this administration?

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