Note: Just for reference, those of you who do not know, I am a legal assistant so this type of thing draws my attention.
This morning I woke to this article regarding a judge ruling that a bin Laden tape could be played to the Padilla jury. The problem is that defense for Padilla says that there’s no evidence he even *saw* the tape. Yet the judge ruled that the jury could view it and make a decision about Padilla’s life based on that viewing.
The jury was “warned” that the tape had nothing to do with Septemeber 11th, but that day is emotionally charged and linked to bin Laden. A tape of that man clearly sends out a signal, intentional or not. There is no proof that Padilla viewed it. The prosecutors office admits that freely, they only claim the other two defendants have seen the tape.
The US legal system should not be used as revenge. The US is sinking to the level of that of a bully on the playground. The enemy combatant status and this ruling are step one and two of getting down to that level.
It only hurts our country in the end if we change our rules so much that we come to accept this obvious violation of our justice system. Wanting to put a terrorist behind bars is admirable but it should fail if the best case that the prosecutors have is that this video was viewed by co-defendants.
Do we really want to become so jaded over 9/11 that we change our rules of engagement? That we change what is supposed to be the fundamental values of our country? I’m not saying that Padilla shouldn’t be punished for what he *did* do.
In the coming months we can look forward to reports of the defense asking for a mistrial, they may not receive it from this court. Any tape of bin Laden is going to be emotional for a jury of American people and yes influencing the jury with something like this is *wrong*. Hopefully a higher court will point out the mistake and grant the mistrial and force our legal system back on track. Retrying Padilla and retrying him using the legal system the way that it is meant to be used.