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Monday, 05 February 2007 04:28

Feds Respond To Lodi Terror Conviction Retrial Request

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 Hamid Hayat, 24, was convicted in April of aiding terrorists and lying to the FBI about it after his return to Lodi following a two-year stay to his ancestral homeland of Pakistan. Hayat's attorneys last October filed a lengthy motion for a new trial. In the 106 page document, Hayat’s legal team states there is new evidence that proves Hayat did not attend a terrorist training camp while in Pakistan. The motion for a new trial also states that  U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. made several improper rulings during the trial.

slide20Examples given were Burrell’s denial of Hayat the right to cross-examine government informant Naseem Khan on several matters. Defense attorneys also claim Burrell erred by not prohibiting expert testimony that would have helped the U.S.-born Hayat's case, and that there were several instances of juror misconduct. US Prosecutors have now filed their response. In their 187-page reply filed early Saturday, prosecutors restated the evidence that led to Hayat's conviction, which carries a possible 38-year federal prison sentence, and then argued against each of the eight points defense attorneys cited as grounds for a new trial. Defense attorneys have an opportunity to file a rebuttal, and both sides will offer their arguments supporting their positions on March 23 in Burrell's courtroom. Prosecutors claimed Hayat's attorneys, Wazhma Mojaddidi and Dennis Riordan, want a second chance to fix Mojaddidi's procedural errors that kept her from asking certain questions of witnesses and from calling one of her experts, retired FBI Agent Jim Wedick. Government attorneys called Mojaddidi's strategy during the trial "tactical gamesmanship" that backfired.

slide20They stated the defense's claim that it has new proof of Hayat's innocence - the testimony of Hayat cousins Usama Ismail and Jaber Ismail of Lodi - is not accurate, saying there is a legal difference between "newly discovered" and "newly available" evidence, because they did not subpoena Usama Ismail to testify and made no effort to obtain testimony from Jaber Ismail, who was in Pakistan during the trial. Prosecutors downplayed the alleged juror misconduct, including a gesture by foreman Joseph Cote in which he pulled up on an imaginary noose around his neck and said "Hang him," after the second day of testimony. "It would be fair to say that the juror's act, at most, appears to be a premature reaction to compelling government evidence, but nothing more," prosecutors Robert Tice-Raskin, Laura Ferris and Sharon Lever state in their reply. Other instances of jurors failing to abide by Burrell's orders did not have any significant effect on the trial, they argue. Hayat and his father, Umer, were arrested by federal authorities in June 2005 after being questioned for several hours at the FBI's Sacramento office. A trial for Umer Hayat, 48, on two counts of lying to FBI agents ended with a hung jury. He later pleaded guilty to lying about the amount of cash he was carrying during a trip to his native Pakistan in 2003 and was released from custody in August.

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