White House Asks DOJ to Move 9/11 Trials
Update: The New York Times reports a DOJ official tonight said they have not decided to move the trial and remain confident the SDNY can handle it.
In light of objections by New York's Mayor, Senator Schumer and other state and local leaders, the White House tonight asked the Department of Justice to find another place to try the 9/11 Defendants.
I hope they pick Denver. We've done it before and we can handle it. [More...]
In picking a place, the Government has to keep in mind:
Rule 18. Place of Prosecution and Trial
Unless a statute or these rules permit otherwise, the government must prosecute an offense in a district where the offense was committed. The court must set the place of trial within the district with due regard for the convenience of the defendant, any victim, and the witnesses, and the prompt administration of justice.
Venue is a big deal, it's in the Constitution twice.
Article III, Section 2, Paragraph 3:
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
And, since it will be a conspiracy case where overt acts were committed in multiple districts,
18 USC 3237. Offenses begun in one district and completed in another
(a) Except as otherwise expressly provided by enactment of Congress, any offense against the United States begun in one district and completed in another, or committed in more than one district, may be inquired of and prosecuted in any district in which such offense was begun, continued, or completed.
and, in cases where the offense began in no district,
18 USC Sec. 3238. Offenses not committed in any district
The trial of all offenses begun or committed upon the high seas, or elsewhere out of the jurisdiction of any particular State or district, shall be in the district in which the offender, or any one of two or more joint offenders, is arrested or is first brought; but if such offender or offenders are not so arrested or brought into any district, an indictment or information may be filed in the district of the last known residence of the offender or of any one of two or more joint offenders, or if no such residence is known the indictment or information may be filed in the District of Columbia.
Since the offenses were begun outside the U.S. and the defendants have not been arrested or brought before a U.S. court, is venue proper in whatever district the U.S. flies them to and officially arrests them in? Or should it be in the District of Colombia?
Seems to me the charges should be brought in one of the districts where the offense -- or at least an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy -- was committed. That's probably a lot of districts, giving the Government pretty free reign.
If the Government can find an overt act here, or construct an argument based on 18 USC 3238, maybe the Government should choose Colorado since the defendants will end up serving their sentences at Supermax in Florence if convicted.
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