Judge: Lodi man’s ter­ror con­vic­tions should be va­cated

The Sacramento Bee - - Local - BY SAM STAN­TON sstan­[email protected] Sam Stan­ton: (916) 321-1091, @Stan­tonSam

Nearly 14 years af­ter Hamid Hayat was convicted in a sen­sa­tional ter­ror­ism trial in Sacra­mento and packed off to fed­eral prison, a judge on Fri­day rec­om­mended that his con­vic­tion be va­cated be­cause of in­ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion by his de­fense lawyer.

U.S. Mag­is­trate Judge Deb­o­rah Barnes is­sued a 116-page rec­om­men­da­tion in Sacra­mento fed­eral court say­ing that Hayat’s Sixth Amend­ment rights were vi­o­lated by the de­fense put on by an in­ex­pe­ri­enced lawyer who had never be­fore se­lected a jury or tried a crim­i­nal case in fed­eral court.

Barnes’ rec­om­men­da­tion does not mean that Hayat, a for­mer Lodi cherry picker who was ar­rested on ter­ror­ism­re­lated charges along with his fa­ther in 2005, will nec­es­sar­ily go free.

In­stead, her rec­om­men­da­tion must now go be­fore the trial judge who heard the case, U.S. Dis­trict Judge Gar­land E. Bur­rell Jr., for re­view.

Barnes’ rec­om­men­da­tion fol­lows a lengthy trail of ap­peals and stems from weeks of tes­ti­mony last year dur­ing an ev­i­den­tiary hear­ing in which his lawyers ar­gued that Hayat was rail­roaded by fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors who with­held ev­i­dence and by FBI agents who co­erced him into mak­ing false con­fes­sions.

Hayat’s Sacra­mento trial at­tor­ney, Wazhma Mo­jad­didi, said she hoped the end re­sult would be free­dom for her for­mer client.

“I pas­sion­ately rep­re­sented Hamid Hayat as a young at­tor­ney and worked with a great team of lawyers and in­ves­ti­ga­tors in his de­fense,” she wrote in an email to The Sacra­mento Bee. “I have al­ways be­lieved that he is an in­no­cent man who was wrongly convicted.

“I am elated to hear that he could be freed soon af­ter un­justly spend­ing so many years in prison. It is a good day in­deed.”

Hayat’s ap­pel­late lawyers also praised the deci- sion.

“The rul­ing not only af­firms Hayat’s decade­long ar­gu­ments that he did not have a proper de­fense, but also bol­sters what Hayat and his de­fense team have long main­tained: Hamid Hayat is in­no­cent,” San Fran­cisco de­fense at­tor­ney Den­nis Rior­dan said in a state­ment.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors have long de­nounced such claims, not­ing that Hayat con­fessed to trav­el­ing over­seas to train in ter­ror camps and that a panel of the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals up­held his con­vic­tion in 2013.

Mc­Gre­gor Scott, the cur­rent U.S. At­tor­ney for the Eastern Dis­trict of Cal­i­for­nia, who over­saw the orig­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion, said Fri­day that his of­fice is re­view­ing Barnes’ rul­ing.

“It has con­sis­tently been our po­si­tion that Mr. Hayat re­ceived ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion at trial and that his con­vic­tion by a jury, sub­se­quently af­firmed by the 9th Cir­cuit, is com­pletely valid,” Scott said. “We are presently con­sid­er­ing all our op­tions to in­clude ask­ing for fur­ther re­view by the dis­trict court judge.”

Hayat and his fa­ther Umer, an ice cream ped­dler, were ar­rested in the af­ter­math of the 9/11 at­tacks in what be­came the first ma­jor ter­ror pros­e­cu­tion fol­low­ing the hi­jack­ings.

Umer Hayat was ac­cused of ly­ing to the FBI about whether his son had trained in a Pak­istani ter­ror camp, and later went free af­ter plead­ing guilty to a lesser charge.

But Hamid Hayat was convicted in 2005 of ly­ing to the FBI and pro­vid­ing sup­port to ter­ror­ists and was sen­tenced to 24 years in prison.

Now 36, Hayat is serv­ing his time at a fed­eral lockup near Phoenix and has a pro­jected re­lease date of May 2026.

Hamid Hayat

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