Nov 02, 2017 Terrorism in Manhattan – Fairfax criminal lawyer weighs in
Terrorism runs rampant in the world, fueled by hate, vendettas, senselessness, and misguided religiou fervor. This not being a terrorism nor murder blog, I only select a few crimes to look at in the larger context of the legal system and human behavior. Sayfullo Saipov’s October 31 mass murder/terroristic crime in Manhattan is particularly vivid for me, having worked for a year only blocks from the World Trade Center, which itself is not far from Saipov’s crime. (He is presumed innocent, but his own admissions do him in.)
Dealing with depravity comes with the criminal defense territory
When people act in the most depraved of ways, that is not time to re-examine my commitment to criminal defense, but instead is an opportunity to maintain compassion for the victims while remembering Publius Terence sage truism: “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto/ I am human, and think nothing human alien to me.”
I absolutely oppose capital punishment, and take exception to any efforts by federal prosecutors (here is Saipov’s federal criminal complaint) to seek the death penalty in this state that long ago abolished capital punishment.
Criminal defense lawyer must humanize their clients, but doing so with Saipov’s terrorism prosecution will be a big challenge
My hero Judy Clarke did a great job humanizing terrorism defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but he got sent to death row even though Judy was able to argue that Dzhokhar was the impressionable sidekick of his lead culprit brother. With Saipov, he purportedly masterminded his lone ISIS-loving terrorism campaign to seek a maximum death count, and gloated over his carnage
Defending terrorism martyrs is not an exercise in futility
Saipov already has chief federal public defender David E. Patton assigned to him, likely experienced defending plenty of beyond unpopular people. Saipov likely will be delighted to become a terrorism martyr, just as Zacarias Moussaoui wanted. By defending each of them, their respective lawyers recognize that the court battle is far from useless, but essential in honoring and invigorating the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel, and in recognizing the potential for humanity that everyone has, whether or not that humanity gets awakened in this lifetime.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz has since 1991 been defending clients charged with crimes ranging from the allegedly brutal to destructive to addictive to conniving and in between. To discuss your case with Jon, please call his staff at 703-383-1100.