CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, February 12, 2010

Terrorism and Civilian Trials

Crime and Consequences notes and applauds this A.P. story:

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder is leaving open the possibility of trying professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a military commission instead of the civilian trial originally planned for New York City

Meanwhile, the New York Times has a story assessing the track record of terrorism prosecutions here:

But the assumptions behind the criticism — that the military approach will gain more intelligence, avoid the meddling of government-paid defense lawyers and lock away a convicted terrorist for a longer sentence — are undercut by the record since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In eight years, the Bush administration said it had obtained at least 319 convictions in “terrorism or terrorism-related” cases in the civilian justice system, according to a Justice Department budget document. A study by the Center on Law and Security at New York University found convictions in nearly 9 of 10 cases, with a 16-year average sentence for those convicted of terrorism.

Only two accused terrorists arrested in the United States, Ali al-Marri and Jose Padilla, were moved temporarily into the military system. But after legal challenges by the lawyers supplied to all detainees who face military justice, the Bush administration moved both cases back to civilian courts, where Mr. Padilla was sentenced to 17 years in prison and Mr. Marri to 8 years.

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