Home » Blog » Criminal Defense » Zacarias Moussaoui is denied appellate relief

Zacarias Moussaoui is denied appellate relief

Call Us: 703-383-1100

During jury selection in Zacarias Moussaoui’s case, I was already in the same courthouse, so stopped by to observe.

Now, over three years later, the United States Court of Appeals has affirmed Mr. Moussaoui’s conviction and sentence. U.S. v. Moussaoui, ___ F.3d ___ (4th Cir., Jan. 4, 2010). Some noteworthy items from this appeal include:

  • Moussaoui refused to provide relief from the trial court’s refusal to proceed pro se. 
  • Moussaoui upheld the trial court’s requirement that all lawyers for Mr. Moussaoui pass a security clearance, and that a court order or agreement with the prosecution be reached for any access by Moussaoui to the discovery material provided to his lawyers and marked as classified by the prosecution.
  • No plain error relief is available for defense counsel’s not seeking a sentence better than life imprisonment, where a cornerstone of the defendant’s argument to the jury was to let Mr. Moussaoui die in prison, rather than to give him martyrdom through the death penalty. At least five jurors considered that a mitigating factor in deciding whether to recommend a death sentence.
  • In pro se court filings, Mr. Moussaoui, filed some very choice and unfriendly words about his lawyers and trial judge. He later explained that he ended up permitting contact with court-appointed counsel team member Alan Yamamoto because Mr. Yamamoto had been respectful to him. That mirrors my limited experiences dealing with Alan during the course of several years.
  • The court decided that even if there had been a Brady/exculpatory evidence violation, that Mr. Moussaoui’s guilty plea made such Brady issues irrelevant to Mr. Moussaoui’s case.