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Criminal Appellate & Post-Conviction Services

Is KSM’s Conviction a Done Deal?

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal’s Legal Blog had an interesting analysis on whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammad’s conviction was a foregone conclusion. The analysis stated that while the defense attorneys could file some interesting motions, in the end there was nothing that would seriously jeopardize the Government’s case.

While critics of the current regime state that the administration seriously jeopardized a conviction by moving the conviction to New York City, this assumption seems questionable. While New Yorkers are more liberal than the nation as whole, it borders on the absurd to leave that New York residents could have any sympathy whatsoever for KSM. Critics who suggest a theoretical acquittal of KSM could allow him to roam free on U.S. streets are painting a horrible picture by showing people only a partial canvas. AKSM can still be prosecuted for the deaths that took place in Washington DC and Pennsylvania. Moreover, the States of New York and Pennsylvania (and possibly Virginia) can also prosecute KSM under an old U.S. Supreme Court ruling called
Bartkus v Illinois which allows an individual to be prosecuted in state courts for crimes that the individual was previously acquitted in federal court.

Steven Simon of the Council on Foreign relations argues in a
New York Times Op Ed Piece that even though KSM may be given an open mike at the trial, it will not be a rallying cry for jihadist everywhere. First, federal courts do not permit video taping of trials so all that will filter out is news reports or possibly transcript excerpts. Second, he argues that Osama Bin Ladin’s support in the Islamic world is dwindling in part based on the change in world opinion. While KSM may be able to ramble on the stage, the images of the pain and horror that took place on September 11, 2001 will be what the world remembers. As Mr. Simon points out, how many people remember the rambling oratories of the defendants in the terrorism or war crimes dock?

David Feige of Slate Magazine argues in his article “
The Real Price of Trying KSM” will be the American justice system. He predicts that a team of highly competent defense attorneys will take the case and will fight a valiant but losing battle. He believes that while KSM has many great legal issues, no American court can be honest to its principles in this case. The result will be a series of bad decisions which will haunt criminal defense attorneys for years to come.