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.

Article VI:

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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    Yep, bring it here... (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 08:27:12 AM EST
    ...we're not scared and we'll take the increased tax revenues of having the media here along with the free publicity for our beautiful city and state.  

    We aren't scared either (none / 0) (#17)
    by nycstray on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:16:14 AM EST
    do you really think you'll profit on tax revenues after paying for security?

    Yep. (none / 0) (#18)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:19:07 AM EST
    You are incorrect. If citities sometimes (none / 0) (#19)
    by tigercourse on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:23:50 AM EST
    lose money on the Olympics, they sure as heck aren't going to profit from an AQ trial.

    Whatever. (5.00 / 0) (#20)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:29:04 AM EST
    Remember the DNC with all of security?  Do you know the effect, both long and short term that had on our economy?  Do you understand what drives our economy here?

    Do you understand the different between a (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by tigercourse on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:40:29 AM EST
    several days long party for rich donors and a couple years long trial? Do you understand the expense and inconvience of shutting down a large section of your city, the heart of your city in fact, for years on end?

    years on end? (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:21:58 AM EST
    The trial may take months, but not years. And interest in it will come and go. All the people who attend, including media, will eat lunch in the vicinity, so coffee shops and delis and street vendors will do quite well.

    The courthouse is one block from the jail.

    During the trial, they could even decide to build new holding cells in the courthouse so they don't have to move the defendants every day. (If they haven't done that already for past trials.)

    It's unlikely the jury will be sequestered, and they will have the jurors meet at an undisclosed location every morning and bus them to and from the courthouse.

    This is economic selfishness on the part of NY business interests. The company leading the opposition that operates the anti-trial website is a real estate firm. What ever happened to civic duty?


    Yes, years (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:37:13 AM EST
    At least, according to those who are actually involved in the decision and planning say.

    From the NYT article...

    City officials have estimated security and logistical costs could total more than $200 million per year for a trial that could last several years, and some politicians have complained that a trial could make the city an even more attractive target for Al Qaeda.

    CNN reports this:

    As city officials and residents contemplated the staging of the trial in Manhattan, doubts emerged about the wisdom of the location.

    Police estimated that the cost to the city would be more than $200 million per year in a trial that could last several years and that 2,000-plus checkpoints would need to be installed around Lower Manhattan.

    Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also said additional protection would need to be deployed for the city, not just "the core area of Manhattan."

    New Yorkers such as Pat Moore contemplated what it would be like to live through such a trial.

    "Those people would virtually be held prisoner in their homes," Moore said of those who live near the courthouse. "We've all been traumatized, any of us who were there that day [September 11]."

    Bloomberg initially supported the move, saying "it is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered."

    But this week the mayor used different rhetoric, saying he would prefer the trial be held elsewhere, perhaps at a military base where it would be easier and cheaper to provide security.

    "It's going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb a lot of people," Bloomberg said.

    On Thursday, a group of New York politicians urged the Obama administration to re-examine locating the trials in downtown Manhattan.

    "We are concerned that the administration has not fully considered the impact that the trials would have on Lower Manhattan in choosing the Moynihan Courthouse in Foley Square," U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velázquez, both Democrats, and state and local officials said in a letter dated Thursday to the attorney general.

    "The Lower Manhattan neighborhoods in which this courthouse is located are only now recovering from the physical, emotional and financial devastation caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and therefore the impacts of this trial site choice are likely to be extremely burdensome."

    The officials asked for a meeting with Holder to discuss the matter and how federal criminal trial locations are determined.

    "We respectfully request that your office conduct a full and thorough examination of all potentially viable trial sites within the Southern District of New York in order to assess each site's safety and security requirements, impacts to the surrounding residential and business communities, and financial implications. Without such a full evaluation, it is impossible to determine which Southern District location choice would be optimal."

    Other politicians who signed the letter were New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, state Sen. Daniel Squadron, City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilwoman Margaret Chin.

    Also, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson cited his "hesitation" with the decision, pointing to the burdens it would pose on New Yorkers. In addition, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said the lawmaker's "single biggest concern is making sure that the federal government cover the hundreds of millions of dollars per year cost to New York City for security during the trials."

    Steve Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said he foresees a severe drop in tourism and real estate prices in one of the most highly populated areas of Manhattan.

    Didn't lower Manhattan also take a hit (none / 0) (#37)
    by nycstray on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:42:04 AM EST
    when Wall St crashed last year? The small businesses that is . . .

    please do not reprint articles (none / 0) (#50)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:27:50 AM EST
    in comments. You may link and quote a paragraph or two.

    Maybe in Denver or somewhere else (none / 0) (#42)
    by nycstray on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:58:47 AM EST
    The trial may take months, but not years. And interest in it will come and go. All the people who attend, including media, will eat lunch in the vicinity, so coffee shops and delis and street vendors will do quite well.

    I think here, they would lose a lot more everyday biz and also tourism. I personally tend to avoid security circuses when I can, lol!~ Much more fun to go to lunch or meet for drinks outside of the zones. When I worked in TS, it was a royal PIA on 'security' days and all you want to do is get the heck outta there. Sometimes you can't even hop on your normal subway train/bus . . . the blocked streets make it difficult to find alternative routes also. I had to have the cops point out where the subway was once {blush}. Too many barricades, people, horses etc made the entrances hard to spot. I'm sure the mess would mellow after a few weeks, but the security wouldn't.


    Yeah, I do. (none / 0) (#26)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:44:52 AM EST
    I was here for the OKC bombing trail.  Were you?

    I think through most of the trial (none / 0) (#22)
    by nycstray on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:37:04 AM EST
    you may end up with more security than media visitors. Sounds like they want a real 'show of force'. It will be a circus at the beginning I would guess, but then we'll just be 'updated' by a few as it wears on.

    the feds have already said (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:13:36 AM EST
    they will pay for security.

    New York seems more worried about the deli owners and other businesses near the courthouse. If the street is cordoned off, people might not patronize them during the trial.

    As I said in my last post, sacrifices are sometimes necessary but well worth the reward of a fair and open criminal justice system. The businesses have benefited from being near the courthouse -- probably intentionally since business owners take location into account when deciding where to put their business -- the trial make may access inconvenient for a while, but it's not an excuse for not having the trial.


    feds will pay 100%? (none / 0) (#60)
    by lawstudent on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 07:15:00 PM EST
    feds will definitely pay for security, but my understanding (and i believe, bloomberg's understanding), is that new york city alone would have to foot another $200 million for security.  is this inaccurate?

    while i agree with you that sacrifices might be worth "the reward of a fair and open criminal justice system," do you really think this will be a fair trial, especially if it's in new york?  i have no problem giving the accused a fair trial, but in my opinion, this is being done as a political show...not for purposes of a fair trial.

    and venue...don't we need an indictment before we start talking venue.  i think a big issue here is what exactly the charges will be.  


    Okay (2.00 / 0) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 11:21:44 PM EST
    Now that we know the location is negotiable, just who will agree to have the trial in their backyard?

    Why all the fuss? (none / 0) (#2)
    by caseyOR on Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 11:48:30 PM EST
    These guys are mass murderers. We try scary mass murderers all the time in many different jurisdictions. I don't understand all the whining.

    When I was a kid mass murderer Richard Speck was tried in the small Illinois city that is my hometown. It was a change of venue from Chicago, which was the scene of the crime. It was a horrific crime that generated a lot of publicity and emotions ran high. Security was tight. A special cell was built right across the street from the county courthouse to facilitate moving Speck back and forth each day and to decrease the chance that someone would kill him during the trial.

    We were a little city in the midwest, but we managed to handle it. Nobody got hysterical.

    Later, some years after his conviction (to life in prison), Speck did state in an interview that he wished he could direct a nuclear weapon at my hometown and incinerate it and everyone in it. Creepy, but we rolled with it.

    And we were jus hicks from central Illinois. Not big city sophisticates like Mike Bloomberg.


    The argument is (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 06:54:01 AM EST
    Richard Speck and the are individuals who committed horrible acts on their own.  The difference here is that KSM et al are part of a criminal network - that is, there are more of them that wouldn't think twice about trying something in the town where the trial is being held to either send a message and/or disrupt the proceedings.  

    So while it's fine to say "What's the big deal?" there are real security threats that have to be taken seriously


    Really DA? (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 08:10:52 AM EST
    Another 2? Really?  What is your unusual aversion you have for people making factual statements?  

    No, unlike the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by tigercourse on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 08:53:12 AM EST
    they are real, and they have killed thousands of people in downtown NY before. You'd have to be an absolute idiot not to load up on the security during a AQ trial.

    Thank you (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 08:55:45 AM EST
    Someone who lives in the world of reality.

    please don't call people (none / 0) (#34)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:36:11 AM EST
    idiots here. Name-calling is not allowed.

    You called Bloomberg a whiner yesterday, (none / 0) (#48)
    by tigercourse on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:16:32 AM EST
    and I said that he and other leaders would be idiots not to load up on security. What's the difference?

    Yes (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 08:47:24 AM EST
    You're right - They are boy scouts.

    You are living in fantasy land if you think the government shouldn't be concerned about it.  Say hi to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.


    I think the point isn't whether (none / 0) (#7)
    by nycstray on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 07:26:56 AM EST
    we can handle the trial or not, it's the imposed security issue

    It has nothing to do with Bloomberg thinking he's a scary mass murderer.


    DC and NOVA (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jen M on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 06:22:16 AM EST
    We want a word with them.

    We've done it before. We got no problem with it.


    There shouldn't be any issue of venue (none / 0) (#40)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:45:46 AM EST
    in bring the trial to NOVA, since the crime was also committed there.

    Exactly (none / 0) (#54)
    by Jen M on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:32:30 AM EST
    The whole area wants justice for that.

    I'll pitch a tent... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:14:37 AM EST
    come on over all ye believers in truth, justice and the real american way...we don't fear justice and due process at my house, and we don't balk at the cost, these things are priceless.  Besides, I know how to do thangs on a budget.

    Couple conditions though...no pointless way over the top security permitted...trial open to the public, first come first serve, line forms at the left.  And smoking permitted in the courthouse...encouraged even.


    Hope they think about Orlando (none / 0) (#58)
    by ruffian on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 12:55:13 PM EST
    though I'm not sure we have a federal courthouse. We are hurting from lost tourist revenue - lots of empty hotels and rental homes. Downtown is not that busy anyway. And if the feds are picking up the tab for security, all the better.

    amazing what financial collapse (none / 0) (#59)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 02:01:26 PM EST
    opens up for consideration. Actually, not so amazing. Is Orlando close to where the flight training was done?

    I'm not sure if a venue change need involve a connection to the case, if a request is filed, though. Jeralyn or others, what are the factors in a federal change of venue? Is it more likely to be a contiguous district?


    Game plan (none / 0) (#4)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 06:26:47 AM EST
    The advocates of the military tibunals will never find any other venue acceptable. They'll continue to stir up opposition, hoping that they can pressure the WH to cave. It's about politics and obstruction. This is the only game plan the right has open. They certainly can't run on their record.

    More Republican Bed-Wetting (none / 0) (#21)
    by bob h on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:32:16 AM EST
    on terrorism from Mr. Bloomberg.  And apparently our good friends on Wall St. were fearful, too. I'm thinking Newark could handle the trial, and might welcome it if the costs are covered by the Feds.

    Are objections raised by Nydia (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by tigercourse on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:37:46 AM EST
    Velazquez (one of the most liberal House members) also "Republican Bed Wetting"?

    If the costs were covered by the Feds (none / 0) (#25)
    by nycstray on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:40:54 AM EST
    including the economic losses, I suspect there wouldn't be as much of a prob having it here.

    Where then? (none / 0) (#27)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 09:53:09 AM EST
    So where do you suggest the trial be held? As the Ft Hood incident showed, a military site isn't immune either.

    We've held terroist trials in the courts before. We have a judical system in place that's worked well for us for almost 250 years. I think it's important to show the nation and the world that we aren't going to live in fear.

    What was done was terrible and the guilty should be punished. But what we've allowed to happen to us as a society is even worse. We've bankrupted our nation, we gave away our civil liberties, and still we can't even conduct a trial for fear of reprisal. Maybe it's time to look for an alternate plan on dealing with terror. It seems very clear the path we're on isn't working.

    Someplace where it won't be as difficult (none / 0) (#38)
    by tigercourse on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:42:09 AM EST
    and costly to secure. Which is almost anywhere else in the country. Yesterday I suggested either the Northern or Western distict courts of NY State.

    How about GITMO (none / 0) (#61)
    by diogenes on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 07:39:13 PM EST
    And it brings up back to doe....
    Why not do trials at GITMO with judges only if not tribunals?

    can a fair trial even happen in NY? (none / 0) (#29)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:13:51 AM EST

    the defense can move (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:33:23 AM EST
    for a change of venue if they fear not getting a fair trial in New York. That's how the OKC trial got moved to Denver. It's a tough motion to win, and sometimes the court decides not rule until jury selection. The defense might decide not to seek a change because New York is a good place to try a death penalty trial (jurors have rejected the death penalty in past terrorism cases). But yes, it could be that NY won't be the final trial place even if the case is brought there.

    For people who want to see the 9/11 defendants "brought to justice" New York is the best place because prosecutors there have the most experience trying terror cases. And while DOJ would ship some experienced prosecutors to whatever district ends up trying the case, it's not the same as having their entire terror unit in place.

    It's not just the trial, but pre-trial proceedings. The OKC prosecutors were not from Denver and lived in a hotel for more than a year Consider how much that cost the Government, to house and pay the per diem for the lawyers.


    thank you (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:37:14 AM EST
    great explanation. :)

    yeesh (none / 0) (#57)
    by Jen M on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 12:34:33 PM EST
    cheaper to rent apartments.

    I bet (none / 0) (#31)
    by CST on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:18:32 AM EST
    they would get as fair a trial in NY as anywhere else in the country.

    True... (none / 0) (#39)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:44:59 AM EST
    which is, sad to say, a preordained conviction.

    Like jb said the other day...if a fair trial was in the cards this guy would be getting a Gitmo military tribunal instead, if anything...bet on it.  This trial is just for show...but I'm still all for it on the off chance the judge and jury will prove to be unwilling to participate in a charade and play it square.


    What would be "square"? (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:51:40 AM EST
    Finding him not guilty?

    Square as we can get would be... (none / 0) (#43)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:00:25 AM EST
    objective rulings by the judge, objective weighing of the state-produced evidence against the man by the jury, and a rigorous defense from his attorney(s)...and if charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt a guilty verdict, if not proven an acquital.

    Truly square would be the charges having already been dropped due to denial of due process and torture...but there ain't a snowballs chance in hell of that happening...even square as we could get above ain't gonna happen.


    Which begs the question (none / 0) (#47)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:08:33 AM EST
    Are you going to consider rulings by the judge to be "objective" if they favor the government?  And since no one will ever know how the jury weighed any evidence (as we never do), are you willing to be okay with a guilty verdict?

    And don't forget - what you see and hear from reports, blogs, legal talking heads, etc. isn't everything the jury sees and hears, and the way they see and hear it, so you may hear about evidence and think "How could the jury think x?"

    Like I said, I think the government is pretty confident here, and I think they have a lot more evidence than what is alleged to have come out under torture.  They just wouldn't chance it.


    Goes without saying... (none / 0) (#49)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:26:00 AM EST
    my natural predisposition is to be skeptical of prosecutors and judges, thats just how I roll...but I'd have to wait for some rulings to go down before making my own judgement as to their objectivity.

    I'm ok with guilty verdicts for those guilty of murder and other violent crimes, that also should go without saying...I usually take more issue with long sentences.  In a case like this with a guy who planned the murder of thousands of people, and shows no repentance for it, I can get down with lwop no problem.


    I will be interested (none / 0) (#52)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:29:31 AM EST
    to read your comments at that time to see if you think every ruling for the government is bad and every ruling for the defense is good.

    It's a date... (none / 0) (#56)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:44:57 AM EST
    I've got my fingers crossed for pleasant suprises and a show of courage in defense of principles...but the realist in me predicts a lot of "overruled" directed at the defense regardless of merit...we shall see unless the bedwetters get the whole thang cancelled.

    The simple truth is this. (none / 0) (#36)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 10:39:13 AM EST
    They should be tried by a military tribunal in GITMO.

    And then hung.

    Our dithering and blathering is seen as weakness by the "world" and invites more attacks.

    you've made your point (none / 0) (#51)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:29:07 AM EST
    Further comments advocating trial at Gitmo and hanging will be deleted as chatter.

    Put it on Governor's Island (none / 0) (#45)
    by steintr on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:05:13 AM EST
    I think the suggestion made by several people of Governor's Island (the "unpopulated island near Manhattan" referenced above) makes sense on many levels.  It's in the Southern District of New York and even, for those who care about symbolism, still within the line of sight of the former WTC towers.

    While they would have to construct a temporary courthouse there (or, more likely, a temporary courtroom in one of the existing buildings from the now-closed military base on the island), the cost of that has to be less than what was projected for "locking down" the area around the existing U.S. Courthouse downtown.

    There would certainly be inconveniences for those who are participating in or observing the trial ---- the island is accessible only by ferry or, presumably, helicopter --- but that same inaccesibility should also reduce the security costs.

    You get a Southern District jury, a Southern District judge, and hopefully avoid grinding the business of Lower Manhattan (not to mention all the other cases pending in the courthouse) to a standstill.  

    The one thing you might want to do is try to get an early ruling on a change of venue, if you can, before you go to the cost of building the court facility. :)

    I disagree (none / 0) (#46)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:05:17 AM EST
    No one should be tried at Gitmo. Gitmo shouldn't even exist. It was GWB and  the GOP trying to circumvent the rule of law in the first place that's created the mess we're dealing with now.

    please don't respond to Jim's attempt (none / 0) (#53)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 11:30:12 AM EST
    to hijack the thread to a discussion of trying them at Gitmo. The thread is about where in the U.S. they should be tried.

    triangulation (none / 0) (#62)
    by diogenes on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 07:40:47 PM EST
    You don't have to be a cynic to wonder whether Obama is asking for the trial to be moved to pander to the American people while deliberately planning to let DOJ ignore the request.