Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Will Appeals Court Turn Justice On Its Head?

Justice at the trial court level won - but that's only Round One:
Federal Witnesses Banned in 9/11 Trial
Judge Cites Misconduct By Lawyer; Prosecution Faces Major Setback
By Jerry Markon and Timothy Dwyer
Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, March 15, 2006; Page A01

A judge barred key government witnesses from testifying at the death penalty trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, ruling yesterday that the misconduct of a federal lawyer had so tainted the proceeding that all evidence concerning aviation security must be stricken.
U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema issued her ruling at the close of an extraordinary hearing in Alexandria that centered on the conduct of Carla J. Martin, 51, a Transportation Security Administration lawyer who improperly shared testimony and communicated with seven witnesses. New evidence emerged that Martin was heavily involved in the case and had committed what Brinkema called other "egregious errors."

The most serious was telling a prosecutor that witnesses sought by defense attorneys had refused to meet with them. Relying on Martin's contact with the witnesses, prosecutor David J. Novak relayed the information to the defense. After hearing from those witnesses yesterday, Brinkema called Martin's information "a baldfaced lie."

"I cannot allow that kind of conduct to go without there being serious sanctions," Brinkema said as she struck the expected testimony and all of the evidence about aviation. "It would likely turn the criminal justice system on its head."
Yesterday's hearing featured only a brief appearance by the woman at the center of the controversy. Brinkema warned Martin that she could be held in criminal or civil contempt. In an unusual move, the judge read Martin a version of the Miranda warning given by police to criminal suspects as she took the stand at the start of the hearing.

Speaking agitatedly, Martin said she "very much" wanted to testify but that it was an "adversarial proceeding" and that she needed a lawyer. With that, Martin left the courtroom and did not return. Her attorney, Roscoe C. Howard Jr., later told the judge that Martin would not be available to testify. Howard, a former U.S. attorney in the District, declined to comment.
(Emphasis added.)
Now that Ms. Martin has been caught, I'm sure "the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of her actions." Had she gotten away with it, she would undoubtedly be on the fast track for promotion. As it is, maybe she can join Brownie's disaster preparedness consulting firm - or get a job with Bill O'Reilly's Special Police Squad.


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