Saturday, November 11, 2006

Al-Arian Faces Grand Jury After Plea

Perhaps one of the worst nightmares for a convicted defendant is the thought that they will be subpoenaed before a grand jury, given immunity, and then forced to testify. Like the conviction isn't enough, the government forces cooperation with the threat of increased jail time for contempt.  For example, Susan McDougal spent many months in prison refusing to talk before a grand jury that was investigating Whitewater when prosecutors slammed a subpoena on her following trial.

The Tampa Tribune reports here that Al-Arian is facing similar treatment.  And in many respects his situation is worse as he entered a plea agreement with the government that did not call for cooperation.  Despite this agreement, the government, following sentencing decided to call for his testimony before a grand jury.  The key here may be that the prosecutors doing the investigation are in Virginia and the plea agreement does state that it "is limited to the Office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida and the Counterterrorism Division of the Department of Justice and cannot bind other federal, state, or local prosecuting authorities, although this office will bring defendant's cooperation, if any, to the attention of other prosecuting officers or others, if requested." (Plea Agreement here)

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