Judge Denies Moussaoui's Motion to Withdraw Plea

Zacarias Moussaoui filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea (pdf) today. He said that he did not trust his lawyers or the American jury system so he pleaded guilty to being a member of al Qaeda . He maintains he was not a part of the 9/11 conspiracy, didn't know the the details, and was to be part of a later plot against the U.S. This is what he has maintained all along, even on the day he pleaded guilty. The AP reports on the motion here.

Now that he has reviewed the jury's verdict, Moussaoui says he understands that he can receive a fair trial by American jurors, that they are able to put aside their disgust for him and their emotions and judge his case fairly.

Judge Lonnie Brinkema has already denied the motion (pdf) on procedural grounds:

Defendant's Motion to Withdraw must be summarily denied on the basis of Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(e) which provides that "[a]fter the court imposes sentence, the defendant may not withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, and the plea may be set aside only on direct appeal or collateral attack." Because defendant was
sentenced on May 4, 2006, his motion is too late and must be denied.

Here is the statement of facts which Moussaoui agreed to during his guilty plea hearing.

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    Re: Judge Denies Moussaoui's Motion to Withdraw Pl (none / 0) (#1)
    by james on Mon May 08, 2006 at 04:21:46 PM EST
    He has likely reached the conclusion that he would rather stay in his current federal detention center than at his new supermax home. Not because of the environment but because of the lack of publicity. He would have liked to have been sentenced to death. In a new trial he would most likely repeat his 'stories' that he now calls lies. The man wants the 'limelight' back. He won't get it... I feel sorry for him in that I really do believe he has a mental illness, although he is not insane, and that illness is going to be aggravated by his new environment. Going to court and talking to lawyers is more fun that solitude. That said, he was competent enough to plead guilty and his guilty plea will stand. No judge will overturn, especially sense quite a few are politically sensitive. I always wondered, though, what Judge Brinkema would have done had he been sentenced to death. She seemed to be the 'wildcard' in that I felt it was 50/50 she would find that there was not enough evidence to support such a verdict. That's mostly based on the fact that she was willing to go against the prosecution before. Kudos to the jury for being open minded (to a degree). That said, it's questionable whether he was 'responsible' for at least one of the 9/11 deaths indirectly. If he had told this story they probably would have written him off as a nut. Of course, had he stayed silent they also would have done nothing - which was related to his case in that he gave misleading statements.

    Re: Judge Denies Moussaoui's Motion to Withdraw Pl (none / 0) (#2)
    by roxtar on Mon May 08, 2006 at 05:37:56 PM EST
    The Moussaoui case got me to thinking about the death penalty, leading me to the conclusion that death is not a penalty at all. I've set out the argument on my blog, and I'd be interested in your reactions...

    Re: Judge Denies Moussaoui's Motion to Withdraw Pl (none / 0) (#3)
    by chew2 on Mon May 08, 2006 at 10:53:48 PM EST
    Moussaoui's stated belief that he didn't trust his attorneys, the U.S. justice system and the court to give him a fair trial is very believable to me. I wonder whether arrogance by the judge and the defense lawyers themselves contributed to this. Why couldn't a Muslim defense lawyer have been provided? Why couldn't the Jewish defense lawyer have refused to serve after it became clear his client didn't trust him? Maybe none of this would have made a difference. But if Moussaoui had trusted his lawyers a proper defense could have been mounted.

    Re: Judge Denies Moussaoui's Motion to Withdraw Pl (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Tue May 09, 2006 at 12:10:34 AM EST
    roxstar - I think similarly about death in some respects particularly with respect to religions that posit an ultimate reward which by definition cannot at the same time be considered a punishment. I do think though that there is very serious punishment not in the experience or lack of experience after death, but to some degree in the removal of further opportunity and ability to experience life. This will go far off topic in many senses, so I'll leave any further commenting about it for an open thread.

    If Moussaoui really pleaded Guilty and the ultimate punishment is death why bother having a trial to begin with what does Federal Court differ from a District Court. Is there a chance that the man could have been proven not Guilty in A Federal Court. Something Is Not Right Here giving that the alleged victims who spoke out against Moussaoui called him a wannabe and the Government Has Not Told Them Everything. What did President Bush become Ward Cleaver For A Day and Moussaoui Bozo The Clown. Something is not right when Alleged Conspirator and supposed victim's have the same IQ's.