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    Default Botching the case against 9/11 plotter

    What's happened in the death penalty trial of Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is criminal. Grossly incompetent federal lawyers and a judge with too much solicitude for a terrorist who planned to fly a jet into the White House have made it all but certain that Moussaoui will escape capital punishment. Damn them all. Prosecutors and fellow government lawyers had only one task: convince a jury that Moussaoui's admitted conduct met the rather technical legal standards required for imposing death. Yet, in this most important of national security cases, one attorney grossly violated rules against coaching witnesses and others failed to take basic steps to prevent witnesses from learning about testimony and statements in court.The worst offender, Transportation Security Administration lawyer Carla Martin, may face criminal contempt charges in this near-treasonous miscarriage of justice. The stiffer her punishment, the better. For it was Martin who so outraged Judge Leonie Brinkema that Brinkema barred key prosecution witnesses from testifying. And Brinkema was wrong for so badly hobbling the government's case. She should have allowed the jury to hear all the testimony by every relevant government official, under oath and subject to withering cross-examination as to believability. After that, if the jury voted Moussaoui's death, the Supreme Court would sort out his rights. Instead, Brinkema made the call herself, likely sparing Moussaoui's life. Now, Moussaoui can laugh all the way to his cell, thanks to this crop of lawyers. For which Sally Regenhard, mother of 9/11 victim Firefighter Christian Regenhard, had the perfect comment: "They're confirming his [Moussaoui's] defense that our government is incompetent." They are also a national embarrassment.
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    This part is (if such a thing can be had now) is the "good news":

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A federal judge in Alexandria is allowing the government to continue to seek death penalty against Zacarias Moussaoui.

    However, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said no testimony about aviation security measures will be allowed during the trial of the al-Qaida conspirator. That eliminates about half of the government's case against Moussaoui, News4 reported.
    Something else that bothers me is that TSA witnesses are reporting that they were not councelled to avoid watching news feeds regarding the trial until last week. I thought it was "common dog" sense to avoid media input while attending trial, as a key component.

    As for Ms Martin? Pull her licence for a start.
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    You know Ray, it takes talent to **** something up that badly.

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    Make no mistake about this. This is NOT a case of incompetence. This is a case of blatant misconduct. Yes, Ray. It is criminal and should be treated as a contempt case. Every lawyer certified to practice in the federal system knows the rules and she broke one of the most fundamental. She should be disbarred.

    I don't really know that the judge has any choice in this. I have been in cases with judges when one side or the other did something that brodered on misconduct. From that point on, that attorney couldn't win an argument of whether the lights were on or off.

    There was apparently a "win at all costs" attitude here. Lawyers are very competitive. It is easier work to be on Hannity and Colmes than it is to work for a living.

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    Not to take away from the discussion, but I have to ask George, what does this mean?

    It is easier work to be on Hannity and Colmes than it is to work for a living.
    I've never heard this reference before, which is why I ask.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    There was apparently a "win at all costs" attitude here.
    I hear she volunteers at Kentland. Ok, maybe bad taste by me.

    Anyhow, I have to agree this lawyer screwed up bad and should never be allowed to practice law again. I do have to wonder though, with as important a case as this, how it would be possible for 1 lawyer to be able to cause so much damage without any oversight or review? Wouldn't there be a team of lawyers working on this or did she do this stuff without her teams knowledge?
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    According to the news this morning the death penalty is still on the table.
    ******=================
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    ------GOD BLESS AMERICA ! ------

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    And so far, thats the only "good news" of the day.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Make no mistake about this. This is NOT a case of incompetence. This is a case of blatant misconduct. Yes, Ray. It is criminal and should be treated as a contempt case. Every lawyer certified to practice in the federal system knows the rules and she broke one of the most fundamental. She should be disbarred.

    I don't really know that the judge has any choice in this. I have been in cases with judges when one side or the other did something that brodered on misconduct. From that point on, that attorney couldn't win an argument of whether the lights were on or off.

    There was apparently a "win at all costs" attitude here. Lawyers are very competitive. It is easier work to be on Hannity and Colmes than it is to work for a living.
    I agree with everything George posted here, but it still doesn't make sense to me. Why break the rules in this particular case? This is the courtroom equivalent of that US olympic snowboarder that hotdogged the last jump and lost the whole race. The jury knows what this guy did and if a jury is going to send anybody to death row, this is the man. Just dot the I's, cross the T's, and start building the gallows - it was a done deal until she pulled this stunt.

    I wouldn't be mad at the judge. She could have taken the death penalty off the table. She didn't, but she did take an action that probably won't constitute reversible error when he appeals. That's important because I think he will get death no matter who does or doesn't testify.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7
    Not to take away from the discussion, but I have to ask George, what does this mean?



    I've never heard this reference before, which is why I ask.
    My point was, simply, that many lawyers are looking for that one, big case to get their moment on an international television show. Hannity and Colmes was used merely as an example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EFD840
    I agree with everything George posted here, but it still doesn't make sense to me. Why break the rules in this particular case? This is the courtroom equivalent of that US olympic snowboarder that hotdogged the last jump and lost the whole race. The jury knows what this guy did and if a jury is going to send anybody to death row, this is the man. Just dot the I's, cross the T's, and start building the gallows - it was a done deal until she pulled this stunt.

    I wouldn't be mad at the judge. She could have taken the death penalty off the table. She didn't, but she did take an action that probably won't constitute reversible error when he appeals. That's important because I think he will get death no matter who does or doesn't testify.
    When the idiot snow-boarder "hot-dogged" it, she didn't break any rules.This attorney violated a judge's order of witness sequestration. It is so fundamental, that, I agree, it defies logic.

    This guy is a hedeous monster, but he was still innocent until proven guilty and he deserves due process in the penalty phase.

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    Ok, thanks George. Wasnt sure if it was a ref to a specific case or an law firm. And Yes, to your point of the "Big One".
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    After I posted and reread the snowboarder analogy I almost deleted it because it seemed to childish of an analogy for such a serious incident but it was the only public example I could come up with off the top of my head where someone did something that made no sense and certainly went against everything she was taught.

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    Don't forget, her actions while so far the most egregious (sp?) were not the only problems.

    Actually, if I understood right, the TSA's tainting of the FAA witnesses came to light after the Judge told the prosecution if they had anymore skeletons in their closest they better come clean immediately after several other issues had surfaced. And there were more issues that surfaced after this one.

    To paraphrase the judge, "This has to be the most botched case in the history of criminal law" -- and when you hear a Federal Judge say that, I'm thinking the entire prosecutions little red lights in the corner of their eyes all started blinking...

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    I'm thinking the entire prosecutions little red lights in the corner of their eyes all started blinking...
    If it weren't for the deep seriousness of all this, that would paint a pretty funny picture.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    LET THE MAN LOOSE. DECLARE A MISTRIAL

    I'm all for releasing the man. Fix all their problems. Just give everyone an advanced notice. Say we are releasing him, XX-XX-06 in... I forget that big park in New York City. Give an good description of what he is wearing. And make sure you give everyone an advanced notice so they can all take off work and wait in Ambush

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    Default She Was Supposed To Be In A Supporting Role Only

    Embattled Lawyer Had Limited Role in 9/11 Trial

    By Jerry Markon and Carol Morello Washington Post Staff Writers Thursday, March 16, 2006

    The government lawyer who has thrown the death penalty trial of Sept. 11, 2001, conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui into turmoil by improperly contacting witnesses was supposed to be playing a limited role and was never to be involved with legal strategy or litigating the case.

    Carla J. Martin, a former flight attendant whose legal career has been devoted to defending aviation security secrets, was a legal go-between -- a conduit, officials said.

    Special Report

    A 12-member jury will determine whether Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty last April to six counts of conspiring with al Qaeda in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, will be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.

    The Transportation Security Administration lawyer located files and arranged witness interviews -- she "made no substantive decisions," prosecutors said, likening her to "outside counsel," and not a member of the decision-making team.

    But by taking it upon herself to strategize with potential witnesses, she has violated basic tenets of criminal procedure, prosecutors and outside lawyers say. The veteran government lawyer is accused of what a judge called "egregious errors" -- sending e-mails to witnesses and improperly sharing testimony with them in violation of a court order.

    "In this sea of Government attorneys and agents who have assiduously played by the rules, Ms. Martin stands as the lone miscreant," prosecutors wrote yesterday in court papers. "Her aberrant and apparently criminal behavior should not be the basis for undoing the good work of so many."

    How this happened to a lawyer generally regarded as an expert in her field, who has worked on such high-profile cases as the Lockerbie bombing and the shoe bomber, is difficult to determine. Her attorney, Roscoe C. Howard Jr., declined to comment, and she has not responded to several requests for an interview.

    After prosecutors pointed out her actions, a federal judge Tuesday banned the testimony of all seven witnesses she contacted and struck all aviation-related evidence. The ruling devastated the case for Moussaoui's execution that prosecutors have spent four years building.

    Yesterday, the prosecutors implored U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema to reverse her decision in a filing that was sharply critical of Martin, whom they characterized as "at best peripherally involved in this matter."

    Legal specialists said Martin's conduct undermined Moussaoui's fundamental constitutional rights. She violated an order from Brinkema barring most witnesses from attending or following the trial and from reading transcripts. The judge, experts said, was trying to ensure that witnesses did not alter their sworn testimony to conform with what others had said.

    "The evil here, the corruption of the system, is that through the intermediation of Ms. Martin, witnesses were able to change their testimony to corroborate other witnesses," said Stephen Gillers, an expert on legal ethics at New York University Law School. "You want the raw experiences of other witnesses, untainted and uninfluenced by the views of others."

    Brinkema's instructions were so routine that experts were stunned that any lawyer would ignore them. Nearly all federal judges invoke what is known as the "rule on witnesses," which says that witnesses cannot watch the trial. Brinkema's order differed only in its ban on reading transcripts, an element unique to the heavily publicized Moussaoui case, where testimony is accessible on the Internet.

    "Almost every criminal case in the federal system has an order like this," said Robert P. Mosteller, an expert on criminal procedure at Duke University Law School.

    Martin faces the possibility of severe punishment, including jail time and disbarment.

    At a hearing Tuesday, Brinkema warned that Martin could be held in criminal or civil contempt of court for violating the order. Under federal law, criminal contempt is punishable by up to six months in prison. Either the judge or the Justice Department can initiate a criminal contempt investigation.

    Legal experts said prosecutors could also seek to charge Martin with more serious felony charges, such as lying to a federal officer. Evidence emerged at a hearing Tuesday that a prosecutor, David J. Novak, had sent a letter to Moussaoui's attorneys saying that witnesses they were seeking would not meet with them.

    Brinkema called the letter a "bald-faced lie." It was based on information from Martin, prosecutors said.

    Civil contempt proceedings, which are far more common, usually result in a fine.

    It would be up to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, where Martin holds her law license, to investigate and contemplate penalties. An official with the board did not return telephone calls yesterday.

    A TSA spokeswoman declined to comment but said Martin's status at the agency has not changed.

    Martin, who is 51 and has 16 years' experience, has spent virtually no time litigating cases, according to people familiar with her work. Her career has involved sitting in on cases argued by other attorneys, essentially as a gatekeeper of classified secrets, they said.

    When prosecutors wanted an aviation-related document declassified in the Moussaoui case, they turned to Martin. Her role was sharply defined: She was to locate the proper bureaucrat, who would then approach an agency such as the CIA. It was up to that agency to decide whether the document could be introduced in open court.

    Martin seemed to relish her role, according to colleagues who characterized her as self-confident, even flamboyant, and possessed of a practical knowledge rooted in almost a decade as a flight attendant.

    "She was very aggressive and outspoken with clients and opposing counsel," said Kenneth Quinn, the Federal Aviation Administration's chief counsel from 1991 to 1993. "She had a certain extensive security expertise, which ordinarily would require a high degree of discretion. So I was surprised this egregious conduct has occurred."

    Martin came to the law by a circuitous route

    The second-oldest of four children and the only girl born to the late Charles Martin and his wife, Jean, Martin spent her early childhood in Arlington. Charles Martin was a lawyer for the Labor Department, according to her mother, Jean Martin Lay. Carla Martin was 9 when her father decided to go into private practice and moved his family back to his home town of Oneida, Tenn., outside Knoxville.

    She attended her father's alma mater, the University of Tennessee, where she studied German and history, Lay said; she yearned to see the world and, after graduating, joined World Airways as a flight attendant.

    In the mid-1980s, as the airline was mired in financial difficulties, Martin was living in Hawaii pondering her future. At the encouragement of a friend, Lay said, Martin enrolled at American University's Washington College of Law. In November 1987, a year and a half before she graduated, Martin started work as a paralegal at the FAA.

    She received her degree in 1989 and the next year joined the bar in Pennsylvania, a state where she never lived. Lawyers for federal agencies can be licensed in any state, but some attorneys consider Pennsylvania's bar exam to be among the least difficult.

    First at the FAA and then, beginning in 2002 at the new TSA, Martin was classified as a general trial attorney. But many lawyers who know her say they do not recall her ever trying a case.

    Martin occupied a special niche in an age of terrorism, as typified by her participation in a trial against Pan American World Airways brought by families of passengers who died when a bomb exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. She would advise the judge about when the courtroom should be cleared.

    "When we took depositions, Carla would identify those parts that involved aviation security and should not be public," said James Kreindler, who represented the families.

    Martin's mother said her daughter was floored by the accusations about her conduct in a job she loves.

    "She's not too well," Lay said. "It's been devastating to her."

    Staff writers Karin Brulliard and Leef Smith and staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.
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    Can't let him loose, he's already been convicted. This is just determining death penalty or not. If not, life in prison.
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    That might be true, Bones, except that if this gets too badly buggered, he could pull a "Baird" and make this sit in the Appeals Court forever. Which in effect would be the same as letting him go. How many days of his 75 did Baird ACTUALLY spend in jail?
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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    Well then, put him in a southern Prison, like Huntsville, Texas. See how the southern boys will treat him

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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7
    That might be true, Bones, except that if this gets too badly buggered, he could pull a "Baird" and make this sit in the Appeals Court forever. Which in effect would be the same as letting him go. How many days of his 75 did Baird ACTUALLY spend in jail?
    He will never see the light of day again with out shakles on his arms and legs, does not matter how long the appeals go on. And he WANTS to be executed, the appeals process is good in this case, he will never go free, and hopefully he will die in some sort of way that does not make him a marter, if he is "shanked" while his case is being appealed, so much the better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Oh, how ugly could this get!!!!

    There's no accusations that lawyers involved with defending the airlines in civil suits had a major role in the witness tainting.

    Best I can tell, the issue is this:
    Could, Would, Should.

    The airlines' defense are saying they couldn't have been expected to find the weapons, therefore they shouldn't have been expected to.

    The Fed's prosecuting M. are saying the airlines could've and would've found the weapons had they been told to look for them. If the airlines couldn't have found the weapons even with notice, there's no grounds for the death penalty.

    And the airline's plaintiffs figure if the airlines could've and would've, then the should've known enough to stop box cutters anyways.


    Witness tampering cited in Moussaoui case
    By Michael J. Sniffen, Associated Press Writer | March 17, 2006

    WASHINGTON --Lawyers for two airlines being sued by 9/11 victims prompted a federal attorney to coach witnesses in the Zacarias Moussaoui death penalty trial so the government's case against the al-Qaida conspirator would not undercut their defense, victims' lawyers allege.

    One of the airline lawyers forwarded a transcript from the first day of the Moussaoui trial to Carla J. Martin, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer, the victims' lawyers, Robert Clifford and Gregory Joseph, claim.

    Martin forwarded that day's transcript to seven federal aviation officials scheduled to testify later in the sentencing trial of the 37-year-old Frenchman, in violation of an order by Moussaoui trial judge Leonie Brinkema.

    Martin's e-mailing of the transcript and her efforts to shape their testimony prompted Brinkema to toss out half the government's case against Moussaoui as contaminated beyond repair.

    The contacts between Martin and lawyers for United Air Lines and American Airlines were detailed in a legal brief filed on Moussaoui's behalf Thursday. That brief contained a March 15 letter from Clifford and Joseph complaining about Martin's actions to U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is presiding over the civil damage case in New York.

    They wrote Hellerstein that the government's opening statement in the Moussaoui case "took the position that the hijackings were completely preventable and that gate security measures could have been implemented to prevent the 9/11 hijackers from boarding the planes had security been on the look out for short-bladed knives and boxcutters."

    "This stands in stark contrast to the position that has been repeatedly articulated by counsel to the aviation defendants in the September 11 actions."

    Because that government position could have "devastating" impact on the airlines' defense in the civil suit, American Airlines' lawyer forwarded the transcript to a United Air Lines lawyer who forwarded it to Martin, Clifford and Joseph wrote. As proof, they cited March 7 e-mails that they provided to Hellerstein but which were not immediately available here.

    "The TSA lawyer then forwarded the transcripts and sent multiple e-mails to government witnesses in a clear effort to shape their testimony in a manner that would be beneficial to the aviation defendants" in the civil suit, they wrote.


    They then quoted a March 8 e-mail Martin sent to one of the government's Moussaoui witnesses that said:

    "My friends Jeff Ellis and Chris Christenson, NY lawyers rep. UAL and AAL respectively in the 9/11 civil litigation, all of us aviation lawyers, were stunned by the opening. The opening has created a credibility gap that the defense can drive a truck through. There is no way anyone could say that the carriers could have prevented all short-bladed knives from going through -- (Prosecutor) Dave (Novak) MUST elicit that from you and the airline witnesses on direct...."

    Clifford and Joseph said the developments represent "far more than appearance of impropriety" and asked Hellerstein to investigate "the mutual back-scratching relationship that appears to exist between the (airline) defendants and the TSA."

    Asked about the allegations by Clifford and Joseph, United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said, "Our actions have been entirely appropriate as have those of our outside counsel."

    American Airlines did not return a phone message seeking comment.

    Contacted after midnight, Martin's attorney, Roscoe Howard, said he had not heard of the New York lawsuit or the letter from Clifford and Joseph. "I'll have to ask her about it," he said, declining to comment further.

    TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said she was unfamiliar with the allegations made by Clifford and Joseph.

    Earlier Thursday, Clark confirmed that TSA had put Martin on administrative leave.

    In court on Tuesday, Brinkema said Martin violated federal witness rules when she sent trial transcripts to seven aviation witnesses, coached them on how to deflect defense attacks and lied to defense lawyers to prevent them from interviewing witnesses they wanted to call.

    Brinkema warned her that she could face civil or criminal charges and that she appeared to have violated rules of legal ethics.

    Martin was assigned to be a government lawyer for the aviation witnesses called by both sides and to be a liaison between prosecutors and defense attorneys. Beyond that, she co-signed one government brief submitted in the case, attended closed hearings on classified documents and worked closely with prosecutors on preparing their exhibits.

    Efforts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful, but her lawyer said she was preparing a response.
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 03-17-2006 at 11:47 AM.

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