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I Guess Arizona Will Have To Wait

The BBC has profiles of the victims, half of them in their 70s.

The suspect was arraigned in Federal court and remanded to custody, but I only expect one more Federal hearing in Arizona, which will be the change of venue, probably to California. As this case includes the murder of the chief judge of the Federal District Courts in Arizona, I would expect the Arizona judges to recuse themselves, just as the Federal public defenders have already done. He was represented by a public defender from San Diego at the hearing. Even if the judges don’t recuse themselves, I feel certain that the defense attorney will move for a change of venue.

While the state will be preparing for trial, the Feds may decide to move the defendant to a holding facility at the site of their trial. Working with the Feds is never easy for local officials in cases with split jurisdiction.

4 comments

1 Badtux { 01.11.11 at 10:11 am }

This is a case where a change of venue is not going to be much help. I can’t think that a judge or jury in some other state is going to be any less disposed to give the death penalty to this dude. It’s not just that he killed a federal judge. It’s that he killed a nine year old child. That’s what sent Timmy McVeigh to the death chamber for his act of right-wing terrorism against America, even though the Federal charges were just for the Federal officials he murdered, not for the children.

According to defense attorneys that I’ve talked to about another case that was in the news, a Federal charge is the hardest to deal with. They won’t even touch a Federal case unless you give them $100K cash, up-front. The rules of evidence are stricter and require defense attorneys to jump through more certification hoops to get evidence admitted, and federal cases move *fast* and are tried while the atrocity is still fresh in the public’s mind, not like local cases that can sometimes take years to get to trial. One of them said that if a case goes to trial, it’s 99% certain that the schlub is going to get convicted in federal court, whereas with a private attorney at the state level it’s still likely, but not *that* darn likely. Thus why $10K up-front on a local charge, and $100K up-front on a federal charge… the likelihood of you being able to pay your debt to your attorney after trial is pretty dismal on the Federal charge.

The only defense any competent attorney can offer here is the insanity defense. There certainly is plenty of evidence that the young man was not all there… but over the years Federal requirements for certifying this have gotten stricter and stricter. Whether his public defender is going to be able to pull it off is questionable, given no past history of treatment for mental illness and the short time frame to trial (i.e. less time to evaluate) in the federal system.

So I expect in a few years time that this young man is going to be strapped into a chair, and have a chemical cocktail pumped into his veins. Living in a police state does have its advantages, though personally I’d prefer that the dude live the rest of his life in a Supermax, which from all accounts makes Alcatraz look like the Playboy Mansion…

– Badtux the Law Penguin

2 Bryan { 01.11.11 at 6:05 pm }

Judy Clarke, who represented both Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph, represented him at the arraignment, so he has experienced counsel in high profile Federal cases. She is based in San Diego.

The problem with an insanity defense is getting the defendant to agree to it, and she may go for a competency hearing first to get a court-ordered examination. There is no way of knowing how the defendant will react to the suggestion.

The change of venue is more of a move to avoid problems and issues on appeal, especially if the death sentence is sought. It is going to be extremely difficult to find a reasonably unbiased jury pool anywhere, but probably impossible in Arizona.

Yeah, the death of a little girl born on 9/11/01 is about as bad as can get for a defense attorney. The only potential plea bargain I can see the prosecution offering is life without parole. But if the Feds do that, Arizona will push for the death penalty in the state trial.

3 Badtux { 01.11.11 at 7:51 pm }

Yes, I saw that about his public defender. The Feds are going all-out to make sure there’s *no* question about whether this poor schlub got a fair trial before being executed :twisted:. And agree, a change of venue will likely happen simply to remove that as a possible avenue of appeal. It just isn’t going to change the outcome any :twisted:.

4 Bryan { 01.11.11 at 9:56 pm }

The Feds want this to go by the book with no screw-ups. They are already counting the money from the book deals.