11th Circuit Hears Arguments in Jose Padilla Apppeal

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held oral arguments today in the case of Jose Padilla, accused of being a "dirty bomber" and held for years in a S.C. brig before being charged and transferred to federal court in Miami for trial. He was convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim overseas and sentenced to 17 years. Two co-defendants were also convicted and are appealing.

Attorneys for Padilla, Adham Hassoun and Kifah Jayyousi say the trial was forever tainted when the videotape was played because it linked the defendants to the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil even though they were charged with other crimes.

"The error in the admission of the bin Laden video arose out of tying the architect of the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, to a case that, as to all defendants, involved conduct which predated these attacks," Padilla's attorney, Assistant U.S. Federal Defender Michael Caruso, argues in his brief.

Another big issue: [More...]

Near the top of the list for all defendants is the judge's decision allowing FBI agent James T. Kavanaugh to interpret code words on wiretapped conversations, telling jurors "tourism" meant "jihad."

Even though Cooke ruled Kavanaugh wasn't an expert, she allowed him to draw conclusions about the meaning of words on the wiretaps, Swartz said.

Also at issue:

Padilla's lawyer told the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that his client should have been granted an evidentiary hearing before the 2007 trial that would have proved he was being mistreated by the government.

The Government is appealing Padilla's "lenient" sentence.

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    Factual correction (none / 0) (#1)
    by mcl on Wed Jan 13, 2010 at 06:15:16 PM EST
    Jeralyn, your description makes it sound as though Padilla was charged with assembling or deploying a dirty bomb. In fact those charges were garbage and the federal case involving Padilla's alleged connections with any kind of dirty bomb collapsed.

    The government withdrew all charges involving a dirty bomb and instead charged Padilla with the worthless one-size-fits-all conspiracy fallback charge that all prosecutors use when their case has no merit and they have nothing left to charge an innocent defendant with.

    Conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor is, conveneiently enough, a felony, so a defendant could easily get charged with felony conspiracy for conspiring to drive over the speed limit.

    Padilla's prosecution was a case study in gross incompetence and prosecutorial abuse. Even leaving aside the fact that Padilla was an American citizen kidnapped on American soil and hurled into a black site prison without charges and without trial and that he was then tortured, the simple fact of the matter is that the record establishes beyond any doubt that Padilla never had anything to do with building or deploying any kind of dirty bomb, aside from some delusional talk. Teabaggers are currently guilty of more threatening talk.

    A more accurate description of Jose Padill'as prosecution would involve wording like: "U.S citizne kidnapped, tortured and held without charges was never charged for the alleged crimes for which he was named an enemy combatant, and was eventually brought into federal court on a vacuous conspiracy count for which no evidence could be adduced other than meaningless hearsay and self-incriminating confessions induced by torture."