Lemorin was one of seven "aspirational terrorists" who the government charged with hoping to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. The government informant who offered to assist them with "the plot" failed to convince a jury that these guys had enough smarts to walk and chew gum at the same time. A jury couldn't reach a verdict on six of them; the government plans to try again.
Several scary elements stand out about this bizarre parody of criminal process.
- A federal judge feared the government was trying to stack the deck against the remaining defendants by deporting Lemorin before he could be called as a witness to their claim of government entrapment.
- Though the judge ordered that Lemorin not be deported precipitously (for what crime one wonders), the same judge extended a gag order on prosecutors and defense lawyers involved with the other six men to cover attorneys and advocates representing the "innocent" man. Immigration advocates, who had protested Lemorin's continued detention, are no longer commenting, apparently in consequence of the order.
- The judge has also ordered that names of past and potential jurors in this case be kept not only from the press, but also from prosecutors and defense lawyers. AP, 12/21/07
That is, unless the next jury includes people who understand how very removed from the mainstream some of our poorer and less educated fellow citizens live, these guys could get sent away for a long time. Will the legal system find a jury that can imagine the lives of these guys? Imagining such an outcome is a stretch. Let's hope this episode does not end up added to the catalog of such shameful blots on the U.S. legal system as the prosecutions of the Scottsboro Boys and the Jena Six.