The liberal line on Jose Padilla’s conviction has emerged, and it comes as no surprise. In the words of Stanford Law School professor Jenny Martinez, who has represented Padilla in related matters, “the trial showed that our federal courts are perfectly capable of dealing with terrorism cases.” (See also today’s lead editorial in the Washington Post.)
This statement is both wrong and (coming from Martinez) probably disingenuous. It’s wrong because no one case can show that our federal courts are “perfectly capable” of dealing with these matters. It’s probably disingenuous because Martinez seems to believe that Padilla did not receive justice. She states that “the jury’s guilty verdict should be appealed” and that “commentators called this. . .case notably thin.” Thus, Martinez doesn’t seem genuinely to think that the federal court system dealt with Padilla’s case very well at all; she’s just willing to vouch for the system for the sake of advancing her agenda.
Moreover, to say that our federal courts can deal with terrorism cases is not to say that they should. This particular terrorist is an American citizen who was taken into custody on American soil, so I’m not troubled by the fact that he got a trial, though I’m not thrilled that the trial lasted five months. But it would be a travesty to grant such process (or indeed anything more than the most cursory hearing) to foreign terrorists captured, for example, on the battlefield.
Finally, though there are aspects of Padilla’s treatment with which I disagree, I agree with John that it was appropriate for the government to focus in the first instance on aggressively trying to find out what this terrorist knew before turning its attention to proving to a jury that, beyond a reasonable doubt, he had committed a crime.
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