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Will Terrorism Trial Be Cautionary Tale?

Posted Apr 16, 2007 9:46 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting to release a “dirty bomb,” goes on trial in Miami this week on federal terrorism charges.

In pretrial rulings, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke excluded evidence obtained during the 3 ½ years Padilla was held without charges in solitary confinement, the Los Angeles Times reports. He was indicted after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Padilla’s detention.

The indictment did not include allegations of a dirty-bomb plot. Instead, Padilla and two co-defendants are accused of providing support to terrorist groups and conspiring to murder and injure people overseas.

Cooke has refused a defense request to dismiss the case because of allegations he was tortured in government custody.

The Associated Press quotes Michael Greenberger, of the University of Maryland law school, as saying jurors in the trial could send a message. "If he's acquitted, it's going to be a cautionary tale about denying full constitutional rights to U.S. citizens who are accused of a crime," he says.

Jury consultant Arthur H. Patterson told the Los Angeles Times that Miami-area jurors are considered to be conservative, but Latinos there may believe Padilla, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was targeted because of his ethnicity.

As jury selection got under way today, Cooke ruled that prosecutors can mention the Sept. 11 attacks, but may not suggest there is a direct connection to the defendants, the Associated Press reports.

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