Frederick Cohn, the lawyer for a accused terrorist Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, is planning on asking a New York judge to exclude Jews from the jury during his client’s trial. Cohn has been considering the move for a while. In February, he said: “Your Honor...as you know, I’m not wild about having Jews on the jury in this case. Given that there’s going to be inflammatory testimony about Jews and Zionism, I think it would be hard for Jews to cast aside any innate antipathy. The American Jewish community is heavily aligned with Israel and Zionism. Here is a guy who is a Muslim, who is opposed to those things."
Federal prosecutors William Sarratt and James Loonam argued that it would be unconstitutional to bar someone from serving on a jury due to their religion, reports The Huffington Post. “I don’t think Judge [Robert] Levy will be ready to violate the Constitution and exclude people from the jury on the basis of their religious beliefs,” Sarratt said. Jury selection will begin later this week.
Shehadeh traveled to Pakistan in 2008 and has been accused to lying to federal officials about whether or not he intended to join the Taliban. He is originally from Staten Island. After being arrested in 2010, Shehadeh said that if he died as a martyr in Pakistan he would have received 72 virgins as a reward. Shehadeh is charged with three counts of making false statements in connection with a terrorism offense.
This is not the first time the religious beliefs of potential jurors has been an issue. When two black men were on trial in 1991 after the killing of Hasidic scholar Yankel Rosenbaum in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, similar concerns were raised.
Cohn admitted that his proposal is a “long shot.” but defended the controversial request. “I don’t know of a gentler way to deal with this, and sometimes you have to wield a meat ax,” he said.
Source: (The Huffington Post)