Hayat Decision: Reactions and Future Proceedings
Here's what we know about the Hamid Hayat case. Hayat isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. As we covered in our discussions of the majority decision and the extremely passionate dissent, he barely has a seventh-grade education. Some strange man shows up to Lodi, California (for those unfamiliar, think 'Deliverance' with more sunshine) and becomes his best friend. That "friend" encourages Hayat's pro-Taliban viewpoints and his boasted plans to attend a training camp - going so far as to chide him for not attending. That "friend" was a paid FBI informant.
Despite that informant's lack of credibility (he got the paid gig after falsely claiming to see Osama Bin Laden's second-in-command and other top terrorists at a Lodi mosque), a juror who made some very questionable (and some would say, racist) statements during and after trial, and an expert witness who was fully full of feces, Hayat was convicted. A panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed that conviction last week. Lest you think we're the only ones confused by the case, we surveyed a few others thoughts.
A Stanford Law professor, in an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, called the decision "very disturbing" and contrasted the decision with other anticipatory prosecutions in the war on terror where suspects take affirmative steps towards an actual terror plot. She also stated:
This case stands out for the fragility of the government's case and the rank taint of prejudice, raising the haunting prospect that a man who had done nothing was convicted for a violent state of mind.
She also provided this other tidbit: an FBI investigator who was prevented from testifying on behalf of the defense stated that this was the "sorriest confession (he had) ever seen."
Amy Wadson, writing for the Atlantic in 2006, had another interesting point about the prosecution's case. Remember the prayer that Hayat carried in his wallet - the one that demonstrated his "jihadi heart" and "jihadi mind" and which was only carried by jihadists? She consulted a number of experts who all said the same thing - it's a common prayer about defending yourself from harm.
Hayat's appellate counsel will obviously be pushing for a rehearing from the Ninth Circuit. Should that be declined, he'll be filing a habeas petition, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. He told the Sacramento Bee that Hayat's trial counsel was "incompetent and later admitted she was incompetent ... She had never handled a criminal case. What she did was inexcusable."
While stopping short of admitting incompetence or malpractice, Wazhma Mojaddidi told the Bee "I was in the case primarily because of my Muslim background, language skills and ability to analyze evidence. I admit my inexperience may have affected Hamid's case. ... I did the best job I could under the circumstances. I believe I represented him competently."
This case certainly seems far from over.
- United States v. Hayat (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Ninth Circuit: District Court Can Hear No Fly List Challenge (FindLaw's Ninth Circuit Blog)
- Circuit Creates Electronics Exception to Border Search Exception (FindLaw's Ninth Circuit Blog)
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