Underwear Bomber Trial Set for October, Will Represent Himself

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, aka the Underwear Bomber, will go to trial on October 4. The federal judge presiding over his case today refused to set a later date.

Judge Nancy Edmunds tried to talk the 24 year old out of representing himself -- he fired his public defenders months ago -- to no avail. He does have a standby counsel.

As Abdulmutallab repeatedly affirmed that he wished to continue as his own lawyer, the judge reminded him that -- even if he accepted representation -- he could always come to her directly with any concerns or questions.

"I understand you may worry about losing control over what happens to you," she said. "I can understand that is a frightening prospect and I am here to listen."

Abdulmutallab faces life in prison if convicted. His stand-by counsel says it's a very defensible case. Apparently, the Public Defender's office has expert reports that the device in his underwear could not have blown up the airplane.

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  • Display: Sort:
    If you were standby counsel, would (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 10:20:33 PM EST
    you want the judge encouraging defendant to come talk to her?

    What's his defense likely to be? (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 08:29:08 AM EST
    Insanity?  I mean - there are dozens of witnesses who saw his underwear blow up and the aftermath, so he can't argue that he didn't do it.

    What is his likely argument?

    His public defender says (none / 0) (#3)
    by Peter G on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 11:48:21 AM EST
    (according to the article) that the device he was carrying doesn't come within the definition in the statute he's charged under for what is prohibited on an airplane.  But if he wanted to advance that defense, he would be using the public defender.  Defendants like this who ask to represent themselves usually don't intend to present a legally cognizable defense at all.  Just to use the trial as a forum to articulate (or "spout," depending how you look at it) their point of view on why their action was justified.  Some judges allow that, at least to some extent, and then instruct the jury that it is not relevant to any issue in the case.  Other judges try to shut it down.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 12:21:12 PM EST