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Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-Arian or Co-Defendants

Bump and Update: Reuters reports al-Arian was acquitted on most charges and the jury deadlocked on others. Way to go, Bill Moffitt.

In a stinging defeat for prosecutors, a former Florida professor accused of helping lead a terrorist group that has carried out suicide bombings against Israel was acquitted on nearly half the charges against him Tuesday, and the jury deadlocked on the rest.

....After a five-month trial and 13 days of deliberations, the jury acquitted Al-Arian of eight of the 17 counts against him, including a key charge of conspiring to maim and murder people overseas. The jurors deadlocked on the others, including charges he aided terrorists....Two co-defendants, Sameeh Hammoudeh and Ghassan Zayed Ballut, were acquitted of all charges. A third, Hatem Naji Fariz, was found not guilty on 24 counts, and jurors deadlocked on the remaining eight.

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Original Post

After 13 days of deliberation in the terror trial of Tampa Professor Sami al-Arian, the jury announced it had reached verdicts on two defendants in the case but may be deadlocked on two others. Over defense objections, the judge issued an Allen charge to the jury, also known as a dynamite charge.

The judge has not said which defendants the jury is undecided about.

Just after 4 p.m. the jurors left for the night and will begin day 13 of their deliberations at 8:30 a.m. today. The trial began in June and included more than 80 witnesses. Al-Arian, 47, a former University of South Florida computer professor, and three others are charged with, among other things, conspiracy to murder and maim people outside the United States, conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The 51-count indictment alleges several less severe charges. The defendants maintained from the start that they are advocates of Palestinian causes but did nothing to support terrorism or violence. The case was built largely on wiretaps, e-mails and documents seized from the defendants.

Whichever way it turns out, al-Arian's defense lawyer Bill Moffitt of Washington, DC did a yeoman's job in the case. TalkLeft background on the case is here.

Here is the relevant portion of the 11th Circuit pattern instruction on deadlocked juries:

"If a substantial majority of your number are in favor of a conviction, those of you who disagree should reconsider whether your doubt is a reasonable one since it appears to make no effective impression upon the minds of the others. On the other hand, if a majority or even a lesser number of you are in favor of an acquittal, the rest of you should ask yourselves again, and most thoughtfully, whether you should accept the weight and sufficiency of evidence which fails to convince your fellow jurors beyond a reasonable doubt...." Eleventh Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions, Criminal (West 1997) p. 434.

Here is a portion of the ABA model,

"It is your duty, as jurors, to consult with one another and to deliberate with a view to reaching an agreement, if you can do so without violence to individual judgment. Each of you must decide the case for yourself, but do so only after an impartial consideration of the evidence with your fellow jurors. In the course of your deliberations, do not hesitate to reexamine your own views and change your opinion if convinced it is erroneous. But do not surrender your honest conviction as to the weight or effect of evidence solely because of the opinion of your fellow jurors, or for the mere purpose of returning a verdict.

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  • Two of the defendants were found not guilty of all charges. A third was acquitted of 24, and the jury deadlocked on 8. Al-Arian was acquitted on many, and the jury deadlocked on the rest. Bottom line: No convictions out of this trial.

    Reuters is reporting al-Arian not guilty.

    This type of trial is not cheap. Is there any way for an average citizen to find out what it cost the taxpayers?

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#4)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    Interesting. Let's re-try'em on those deadlocked charges. Re cost. Who cares?

    JimakaPPJ, As a taxpayer, I care about cost.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#7)
    by roy on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    Re cost. Who cares?
    And to think the Right used to be fiscally restrained... well, maybe before I was born... Well, let's say they're guilty on all the deadlocked charges. If the feds, with all their increased budgets and expanded powers, still can't put together sufficient evidence that guilty people are guilty, then they're incompetent idiots. I don't like paying idiots. Or let's say they're innocent. Obviously continuing to jail and re-try them are not good things to pay for. And the increased budgets and powers just make it extra pathetic that we're jailing and trying innocent people. So, unless the feds are sitting on some evidence (which is plausible), I don't want to pay for another trial.

    JimakaPPJ, As a matter of fact, I do. I also care about the money spent on the military actions of this country. I also care about all of the money spent due to the passing of the Patriot Act. And just to be fair, I also care about tax dollars involving government social programs like social security. And let us not forget that money is not the only cost.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#9)
    by Johnny on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    Why does Florida hate America?

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#10)
    by garyb50 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    How amazing this just keeps happening. We find out months or years later that charges, claims and 'beliefs' are totally bogus. We are in a long dark tunnel filled with echoes of lies.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#11)
    by demohypocrates on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    I would have guessed the severity of the crime, strength of evidence and likelihood of a victory all would factor into whether or not a retrial should be sought. If you want to put a price on convicting terrorists, try selling it to the public. From what I heard about the trial, the US Attorneys were incompetents, continuously lulling the jury to sleep.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#12)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    Remember how people used to divide things between the pre 9/11 world and the post 9/11 world. We are now entering the post post 9/11 era. Immediately after 9/11, the Bush administration was able to take advantage of people's fears and anger to get repressive laws like the Patriot Act passed. However, as time passes, people are starting to look at these laws more objectively and are not liking what they are seeing.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#13)
    by demohypocrates on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    Maybe thats what people are thinking in your isolated crop circle of friends, but I think most are watching terrorism explode around the world and are waking up to the dangers of radical Islam. They are also thankful that the government isnt full of people who think that prosecuting terrorists is too costly.

    demohypocrates, I never said that prosecuting terrorists was too costly. But I do take issue with the fact that the government had tons of credible evidence in this case and could not come up with a single conviction. Hence my cost benefit beef. According to a jury of his peers, al-Arian is not a terrorist. Well, at least not on eight of the 17 counts in his indictment. They were undecided on the other nine. So before you paint the man as a terrorist, wait for the conviction. Remember, innocent until proven guilty. So far, all he is guilty of is unpopular speech. Now, I am not saying that he is a saint. On the surface it appears there was some questionable behavior. Another thing to remember, and I have brought this up in the past, money is not the only cost. I think the justice department may have lost some credibility on this as well. Either that or it was a learning experience and they won't make the same mistakes next time. I guess time will tell.

    Jim, I almost forgot... In an earlier post I mentioned that I was a taxpayer. I guess you overlooked that. So I guess that means I must have drawn a paycheck once or twice in my lifetime. I have even voted once or twice as well.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#18)
    by aw on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:42 PM EST
    So if no cost is too great when it comes to prosecuting suspected terrorsts, than how come preventing terrorist attacks is too costly?

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimcee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    This fellow and his compatriots are found not guilty by a jury of thier peers. OK hey, a sh*tty prosecutor loses a case. Are the professor and his co-defendants innocent? I have no idea. Is al-Arian a radical Islamist? His rhetoric would appear to confirm it but a jury won't go so far as to incarcerate him because they may have doubts about the gov't's case. Either way I'm sure his file is being compiled by some clandestine federal and radical folks. The real question is 'What does Bill O'Reilly have to say about his past punching bag's aquittal'? I'll bet he doesn't mention it soon. Either way you got to love the jury system because you never no what you're going to get.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#20)
    by demohypocrates on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    macromaniac, I agree, from all accounts, it was a pathetic prosecution.

    I'm surprised he even got a trial. Maybe they will just hold him indefinitely now or ship him off to Gitmo. Interesting that the Patriot Act hasn't been used to spy on people suspected of supporting terrorist groups like the IRA or JDL. Or has it?

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    It is very clear why Gitmo and the Secret Prisons overseas exist. Because the government cannot prove guilt. Who says it was a crappy prosecutor? How do you know? Could it be that the professor is not a terrorist and the prosecution could thereby not prove it????

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    mac - Nope. What the Left does quite frequently is to make a false claim, and when someone corrects them they start yelling about them changing the subject. You are the one who made the original false claim at 04:46PM on 12/6. I merely corrected it and dropped the subject. As for the snarky remark, I offer my apologies. But really, you should know that you don’t have to draw a paycheck to be a tax payer. Check your phone bill for an excellent example. As for the trial, I still believe them guilty, and would like to see a re-trial.
    The case was built on hundreds of pages of transcripts of wiretapped phone calls and faxes, records of money moving through accounts, documents seized from the defendants' homes and offices, and their own words on video. At times, the participants appeared to speak glowingly of the Palestinian "martyrs" who carried out suicide attacks.
    As for the “cost,” I’ll just note that I have seen no complaints about the money spent on Plame, but saw many complaints about the bucks spent on investigating Clinton, and now this. It appears to depend on whose ox is being gored, etc. aw – Who said preventing terrorist attacks was too costly? Looks like we are spending billions. Et al – Anyone know what evidence was not allowed to be presented?

    You believe them guilty because, "At times, the participants appeared to speak glowingly of the Palestinian "martyrs" who carried out suicide attacks." That is weak and reeks of McCarthyism. So as I said before, at this point, all they are guilty of is unpopular speech. Why do you only want to know what evidence was suppressed? Don't you want to know why it was suppressed as well? That would paint the whole picture.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    mac - Can you explain to me why everything the Left disagrees with "reeks of McCarthyism?" You should remember that, as I have written in this blog, although McCarthy's tactics were wrong, his basic claim was truthful. Their were spies, communists and useful idoits in the US government, Hollywood and the media. The quote was provided as a reminder of who these guys are. They live here, but they cheer terrorist acts else where. While that may be their right, it doesn't mean that I have to be happy with them when they do it. So, let's have a trial on the on the other charges. My question re any evidence that was not allowed is just to determine how much we don't know. Why it was suppressed, I would think, would be part of any article anyone can link to. Are you scared to address that question? Hey, perhaps there was none.

    Jim, I am not the left. Why did I bring up McCarthyism? And I LOVE this quote from the link:
    Today’s war on terrorism has already demonstrated our government’s remarkable ability to evolve its tactics in ways that allow it simultaneously to repeat history and to insist that it is not repeating history.
    And no, I am not afraid to answer any question so please don't bait me. Here is the docket report. Have at it.

    Jim, I didn't realize that the URL I linked for the US District court Website doesn't take you directly to the docket. Click on Notable Cases and then click on United States of America v. Sami Amin Al-Arian, et al. After that click on docket.

    Re: Jury: No Convictions for Tampa Prof Sami al-A (none / 0) (#30)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:46 PM EST
    The prosecutors put on 80 witnesses in 5 months*. The defense contribution was "On behalf of Dr. Al-Arian, the defense rests." Not guilty or deadlocked on all counts. 'nuff said! *TL, how do 80 witnesses take 5 months!?