Wednesday, May 03, 2006

One cheer and a boo for juries

Zacarias Moussaoui & Hamid Hayat (KCRA illustration)

Today the Zacarias Moussaoui jury decided not to kill him. The verdict seems pretty remarkable, given that they had already found, on the basis of torture-derived "evidence" further tainted by prosecutorial misconduct, that this nutcase and aspiring martyr had some responsibility for 9/11. Having accepted the bizarre notion that a jailed incompetent could have averted the attacks, it seemed impossible that they would simply jail him for life. After all, these people had been subjected to the Flight 93 cockpit tape recording and the testimony of bereaved New Yorkers.

I feared the jury would decide that offing Moussaoui would give "closure" to the relatives, as if grief could be assuaged by revenge. But apparently not. Good for that jury for rising to an impossible task. Jury service sometimes evokes extraordinary capacities for serious thought and responsible discernment in the most ordinary citizens.

Unhappily, another jury in Sacramento, California seems not to have risen to such discernment. According to the LA Times, they convicted 23-year-old Hamid Hayat of Lodi of providing material support to terrorists, on the basis of Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Tice-Raskin's closing argument:

"Hamid Hayat had a jihadi heart and a jihadi mind."

That was the clincher for the jury, which last week found him guilty of one count of providing material support to terrorists and three counts of lying to federal agents. He now faces up to 39 years in prison.

The proof of Hayat's views were a teenage scrapbook, a slip of paper inscribed with a warrior's prayer in Arabic, books about jihadi martyrs, and Hayat's own boastful comments secretly recorded by a man he thought was his best friend but who turned out to be a paid FBI informant....

In interviews, several jurors said Hayat's confession and evidence of what jury foreman Joe Cote, a 64-year-old retired salesman from Folsom, Calif., called "un-Americanism" convinced them that he posed a danger.

Hayat "confessed" under FBI interrogation, after much prompting, saying that he had been to a terrorist camp in Pakistan. This "evidence" might seem more convincing if his father had not also "confessed" under interrogation that his son had attended a terrorist camp -- at a completely different location where "the training, including firearms practice, took place in an enormous, deep basement where trainees masked like 'Ninja turtles' practiced pole-vaults and executions with scimitars." Unfortunately for Hamid Hayat, his jury never heard this version as his father was tried separately under a completely different theory about the location of the putative camp. The father's jury was unable to agree on a verdict.

Okay -- I wasn't there at this trial, I didn't hear it all -- but this case sure sounds like a prosecution for the thought crime of stupidly fantasizing about being an Islamic warrior. Dumb, yes -- but criminal? Not in my book. The evidence that this guy did anything but harbor silly ideas seems awfully thin. One of the Hamid Hayat case jurors now is claiming she was bullied into agreeing to the guilty verdict. Lawyers will argue over whether her remorse has any legal implications.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Update: An alternate juror is also claiming that the (seemingly asshole) foreman was doing all kinds of aggressive things, including calling her up at home to talk about the case and the rest of the jury.

And you're right, this case is a travesty in every possible way.

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