The Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial ended in a mistrial Monday after the jurors deadlocked on most of the counts.
I suspected something like this was in the works after one of the jurors refused to deliberate or vote on a verdict in the case. In my opinion, Judge Joel Fish should have declared a mistrial then and there.
A government prosecutor, John Jacks said the Justice Department would retry the case.
What apparently happened is that jury verdicts were recorded to acquit the three defendants: Mohammad El-Mezain, the Holy Land's original chairman and endowments director, Mufid Abdulqader, a top Holy Land fundraiser and former Dallas public works supervisor and Abdulrahman Odeh, the foundation's New Jersey representative of a number of the charges but were hung on others. And when polled, three of the jurors said they disagreed with the verdicts as read, which is when Judge Fish declared a mistrial.
The defendants and their attorneys were cheered as they emerged from the courthouse. Amid cries of "Allahu Akbar," an attorney for Mr. Odeh, Greg Westfall, was hoisted into the air by those celebrating.
One thing that a lot of Holy Land supporters were incensed at was that the pivotal witness for the government was an Israeli intelligence official who testified under a pseudonym and in a courtroom cleared of spectators at the request of the American and Israeli governments.
"This was an Israeli trial tried on American soil," the spokesman for a group supporting the defendants, Khalil Meek of the Hungry for Justice Coalition, said.
Frankly, with all the evidence available, One has to hope that in the next go-around, the US attorneys will be much more forceful in presenting their case and much better at weeding out problem jurors.
This is the largest terrorism financing trial in US history, and we can't afford to blow it.
UPDATE: Blogpal Debbie Schlussel has a fine post on this..and being a lawyer, she knows of whence she speaks.