Who will defend the 9/11 defendants, including alleged mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is no simple question.
Not only is the attorney likely to face extreme criticism for taking the case, he or she will need to be capable of handling a near-endless quagmire of legal issues.
Benjamin Weiser of The New York Times has a great piece today on the “death list” of 20 or so defence lawyers who have enough experience to take on the 9/11 cases.
As Weiser notes, it’s unclear whether all of the defendants will even want lawyers. But if they do, those appointed could include lawyers like 70-year-old Fredeick Cohn, known for his acid wit in the courtroom, or committed Zionist 52-year-old Avraham Moskowitz.
Moskowitz, however, said he would be forced to turn down the case, not because he could not “vigorously defend” an accused terrorist, but because his “background and politics” would create the appearance of conflict.
But Edward Wilford, who has previously defended a man convicted of killing a New York City police officer, said he would “step up to the front” if he is “privileged enough to be asked” and would defend “these human beings with the same zest and zeal” and he would defend any other person.
Wilford’s statement highlights the issues any asked to take the case lawyer will face. defence attorneys, by their very nature, deal with some pretty scary characters, but defending someone charged with — and potentially someone admitting to – causing one of the blackest days in the nation’s history is no light matter.
Justice is not always fun, and it’s rarely easy. Most lawyers will be thankful it is not them, but all lawyers should agree someone has to do it, and do it well.
Read Weiser’s full article, with additional background on the potential attorneys, here.
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