Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mohamed Mohamud verdict - not a surprise

The federal jury in Portland found him guilty of "Attempted Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction." [KGW]. The defense had little to work with. There was no contention that he didn't push the button to ignite the fake bomb. He didn't know it was fake - he thought it was beautiful that bomb: "Six 55-gallon barrels, supposedly filled with diesel fuel and nails (to act as shrapnel) ...." [See my earlier post.]

There is no sympathy for a person willing to push the button on a bomb that would have wreaked severe harm to human life and property. It shouldn't matter that the bomb was fake nor that the FBI provided encouragement that moved him from passive to active conduct. And there shouldn't be a difference between the attempt and the completion. It was only an attempt because the bomb was fake.

This attempted bombing doesn't need to be labelled as terror to enhance its criminality. It is of itself an extreme criminal action - plain and simple. Irrespective of how he got to the point of pushing the button - he pushed it willingly. Anyone willing to ignite this bomb is someone that should never walk the streets of freedom.

It was the FBI's conduct that provided the basic defense that but for the conduct of the FBI he would not have engaged in the terror activity. It is apparent by the speedy return of the verdict that the jury saw little value in that argument. But the FBI's conduct may play into the sentencing.

Irrespective of the sentence - there will be appeals. This will be decried by many. The verdict seems so obvious why should the defendant appeal? There will be those that if possible would prohibit an appeal. But, an appeal is part of the process and ought to be recognized as such.

Appeals are not designed to be on a case by case basis. It is another step in the process to ensure a fair trial. This process is what makes our justice system best, even if not perfect. And surely the defense attorneys would be more than just remiss in failure to file an appeal.

Of course one supposes that Mohamed could waive that appeal, but there seems little value in that. The failure to appeal has potentially a great risk for the defense attorneys. Malpractice charge looms. While denial of an appeal may have some value to the public, e.g., cost, there is great value to the person likely to spend the rest of his life in prison. He is only 21 and, maybe not the case at hand, a fair trial must be ensured.

The system has functioned as it should - let it finish the task.

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