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Sept. 02, 2009 – Hearing on Aafia’s new legal team

SUMMARY:

On Sept. 2, 2009 a hearing was held in New York to determine whether the lawyers retrained by the Pakistani government can represent Dr. Aafia.

Richard Berman, the presiding judge ruled that the new legal team can be admitted into the case. However, he also required that the U.S. government appointed attorneys remain in the case as the lead counsel.

Dr. Aafia rejected this development both verbally and in writing. Judge Berman ignored Dr. Aafia's wishes, even though he had recently ruled her competent to stand trial on July 06, 2009.

COMMENT: While many are viewing the outcome of the hearing as a victory, caution should be exercised in premature celebration.

Consider the following:

  • By admitting the Pakistani retained legal team into the case under court appointed lawyers, Judge Berman has seriously undermined both the independence and confidentiality of an otherwise eminent team.
  • It should be noted that the court appointed lawyers do not bring any special legal expertise or knowledge to the case, further they have not inspired Dr. Aafia's trust. In fact their very presence seems to have undermined Dr. Aafia's cooperation with or confidence in the new lawyers.
  • It is curious why Judge Berman would continue to spend U.S. tax dollars for the defense of a person who has a funded legal team.
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