SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal magistrate on Friday recommended overturning the controversial 2006 conviction of a California man accused of attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and plotting an attack in the United States.
Hamid Hayat, now 36, who was then a young cherry-picker from Lodi, has served about half his 24-year sentence.
But U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes said he likely never would have been convicted were it not for the inexperience of his defence attorney, who failed to call alibi witnesses.
“A reasonably competent attorney would have done more to investigate Hayat’s alibi,” Barnes said in a 116-page opinion.
Her recommendation that the conviction be vacated now goes to U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. He presided over Hayat’s original trial, conviction and sentencing and previously rejected a defence motion over whether Hayat was properly represented at trial. Either side can appeal Burrell’s eventual decision.
Barnes heard new testimony from witnesses who said Hayat, who was born in California, never had time to receive terror training while visiting relatives and getting married in his ancestral village in Pakistan. Barnes also found that Hayat’s defence attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, should have put on evidence from an expert on false confessions who could have countered prosecutors’ claim that Hayat confessed.
Mojaddidi, an immigration and family law attorney who was trying her first criminal case, said she “passionately represented Hamid Hayat as a young attorney and worked with a great team of lawyers and investigators in his defence.”
She said in a statement that she always has believed he is innocent and is elated by Barnes’ recommendation.
Prosecutors are reviewing the magistrate’s recommendation, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said.
“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 Ninth Circuit, is completely valid,” he said in a statement.
One of the three appellate judges dissented when the court upheld Hayat’s conviction in 2013, saying jurors erred in convicting Hayat based on predictions of what he might have done.
Hayat’s attorneys said Barnes’ opinion goes beyond finding that his conviction should be overturned.
“The judge found the testimony of the alibi witnesses sufficiently credible to conclude that Hamid would likely not have been convicted if the jury had heard these witnesses,” they said in a statement. “That is effectively a finding of actual innocence.”
Investigators initially claimed five men were part of an al-Qaida “sleeper cell” in the agricultural community south of Sacramento. But federal prosecutors eventually deported three of the men without charges, while Hayat’s father, an ice cream truck driver, admitted only to a customs violation after a jury couldn’t decide whether he lied to federal agents about his son’s activities.
Only Hayat was convicted in 2006 of providing material support to terrorists and lying to FBI agents. Prosecutors alleged that he had a “jihadi heart” and plotted attacks on hospitals, banks, grocery stores and government buildings.
Critics have held the case out as an example of investigators’ and prosecutors’ overzealous approach to the Muslim community after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
“The prosecution took advantage of post-9-11 hysteria to convict him,” Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.
The FBI paid an informant US$230,000 over three years to infiltrate a Lodi mosque and record conversations with imams and worshippers after he improbably claimed to have seen several high-ranking al-Qaida officials there in the late 1990s. The informant encouraged Hayat to attend a training camp while he was in Pakistan.
His attorneys said Hayat’s eventual confession was coerced during a marathon FBI interrogation and that the terror training camp was closed during the time in 2003 and 2004 when prosecutors said Hayat was purportedly there for three to six months. He was arrested shortly after returning to the United States in 2005.
@repost Alimony and Spousal Support
NEW YORK — NBC News announced its professional divorce agreement with Megyn Kelly late Friday, ending an association with the former Fox News Channel star whose attempt to become a network morning television star as part of the “Today” show floundered.
Terms were not disclosed. Kelly was in the second of a three-year contract that reportedly paid her more than $20 million a year.
She’s been off the air since October after creating a furor by suggesting that it was OK for white people to wear blackface on Halloween, and exit negotiations had dragged for two months over the holidays. Even before the controversial commentary, her future was considered limited at NBC News.
“The parties have resolved their differences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an employee of NBC,” the network said in a statement Friday night.
NBC says she’ll be replaced in the third hour of the “Today” show by anchors Craig Melvin, Al Roker, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones.
Her tenure was also a failure for NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, who lured her from Fox News Channel with the type of big-money contract that was once standard in television news but now is less so with financial constrictions and less viewership. In a sense, Kelly was caught in a no-woman’s land: some at NBC were suspicious of her because of the Fox News background, while her former audience at Fox resented her for tough questioning of Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail.
While at Fox, her accusations of unwanted sexual advances by the network’s late chief executive, Roger Ailes, helped lead to his firing.
She made news at NBC when interviewing women who accused Trump of inappropriate behaviour and s poke with accusers of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Roy Moore and others, as well as women who say they were harassed on Capitol Hill. The episode with Trump accusers had more than 2.9 million viewers, one of her biggest audiences on the network.
Time magazine, which honoured “The Silence Breakers” as its Person of the Year in 2017, cited Kelly as the group’s leader in the entertainment field.
But tough segments on accusations against former NBC anchor Matt Lauer didn’t win her friends internally, as did her public call for Lack to appoint outside investigators to look into why the network didn’t air Ronan Farrow’s stories about Harvey Weinstein and allowed Farrow to take his story to The New Yorker.
When those stories began to fade, Kelly had trouble attracting an audience in the soft-focus world of morning television. She also briefly hosted an evening newsmagazine that didn’t catch on with viewers.
Kelly made a tearful apology to viewers following her blackface comments, but it proved to be her last appearance on NBC News.
“What is racist?” she said on the show. “Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as a character.”
Critics accused her of ignoring the ugly history of minstrel shows and movies in which whites applied blackface to mock blacks.
It’s not immediately clear what’s next for Kelly. NBC would not comment Friday on whether the separation agreement allows her to write about her experiences at the network.
There’s no non-compete clause, meaning Kelly is free to seek other television work if she wants to.
AP Writer Mark Kennedy in New York contributed to this report.
David Bauder, The Associated Press
@repost Spousal Support Guidelines
TORONTO — A top staffer to Ontario Premier Doug Ford is leaving her post for a high-paid appointment with the province’s energy regulator, the latest in what the Opposition calls a series of cushy jobs for Doug Ford’s friends.
Ford has recommended Jenni Byrne, who has served as his principal secretary, become a full-time member of the Ontario Energy Board.
That’s a two-year term that comes with an annual salary of about $197,000, the premier’s office said.
NDP critic Peter Tabuns called it “another ticket on (Ford’s) gravy train.”
“Doug Ford trades in favours and backroom deals, and clearly, he wants to make sure the people who are supposed to be independent from politicians — from police to energy regulators — are loyal to him,” Tabuns said in a statement.
“Stacking the OEB with his buddies and turning our energy decision-making body into a dumping ground for Ford loyalists diminishes its independence, and will have major consequences for Ontario’s energy sector.”
More from HuffPost Canada:
Ford family friend Ron Taverner has been named Ontario Provincial Police commissioner, though the appointment has been delayed pending an investigation by the integrity commissioner. A deputy OPP commissioner is trying to get the courts to order the Ontario ombudsman to investigate as well, citing concerns about political interference.
Taverner initially did not meet the requirements listed for the commissioner position. The Ford government has admitted it lowered the requirements for the position to attract a wider range of candidates.
Past Progressive Conservative party president Rueben Devlin was granted a three-year term as a health-care adviser, Ford campaign adviser Ian Todd was appointed Ontario’s trade representative to the United States, with a $350,000 salary, and Ford family lawyer Gavin Tighe was appointed to the Public Accountants Council.
‘An invaluable resource’
Byrne, who was Ford’s director of field operations during last year’s election and who also ran former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaigns in 2011 and 2015, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, Ford said Byrne had been “an invaluable resource” to him, his office and all members of the government.
“I wish to sincerely thank her for dedication in working in the best interests of the people of Ontario,” he wrote.
Earlier On HuffPost:
@repost Prenup Attorney near Me
STAVANGER, Norway — Tom Hagen and his wife expected to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2019. Today, one of Norway’s wealthiest men just wants to know that Anne-Elizabeth Falkevik Hagen, the childhood sweetheart he married at age 19, is alive.
Her disappearance and suspected abduction from the couple’s home on Halloween has gripped a small, wealthy Scandinavian country with the fourth-lowest homicide rate of 36 European countries. Some argue that violent crime happens infrequently enough among the 5.3 million Norwegians that police are unprepared when it does occur.
The family and local police investigators kept the case secret for more than a month. But with leads drying up in the discreet probe, no suspects and the risk of witnesses forgetting vital information as more days passed, the family gave police the greenlight to go public with the case on Jan. 8. The following day, word was out.
“It has been a topic for some time,” Svein Holden, the Hagen family’s lawyer, told The Associated Press. “When the police came to us saying this is the next necessary step in the investigation, the family trusted the police.”
The revelation turbo-charged the investigation. Police released security videos of men walking back and forth outside Tom Hagen’s workplace. More than 200 tips poured in. Officers and police dogs were seen scouring the grounds around the couple’s home.
A ransom for the missing woman’s release was demanded with “serious threats,” police said. They declined to give the amount, but Norwegian newspaper VG said it was for 9 million euros ($10.3 million) to be paid in Monero, a cryptocurrency considered popular among cyber-criminals.
Tom Hagen, the second-oldest in a farming family of 12 children, struck it rich in the real estate business he started in 1978. Last year, financial magazine Kapital estimated his fortune to be worth nearly 1.7 billion kroner ($200 million), wealthy but not uber-rich in Norway. The magazine put Hagen 172nd on its list of the country’s wealthiest people.
Known for being a modest and private man, Hagen has had to cope with the glare from public interest in his wife’s whereabouts as well as the trauma of not knowing himself if she is safe or suffering.
He and the couple’s three children “are dealing with the fact that this is the main topic in all of Norway, and that is what they are feeling,” said Holden, the lawyer. “It is an extra burden but they rely on the police. They have to put their own feelings in the background.”
Police have informed international police agency Interpol, which on January 10 put Anne-Elizabeth on the list of missing persons, raising fear she might have been taken out of Norway.
Four years ago, Raider Osen, a wealthy Norwegian art dealer, was kidnapped in Bergen, southwestern Norway. He was beaten and partially buried. The gun jammed down his throat smashed his teeth and broke his jaw. But Osen managed to flee before his abductors received the 2 million kroner ($200,000) ransom they demanded.
The three suspects also escaped. Osen says his kidnappers spoke through their ski masks with accents that sounded eastern European. He felt badly let down when police failed to catch them and feared the image of law enforcement inaction or ineffectiveness would embolden potential copycats.
“I was worried that similar things could happen again,” Olsen told the AP. “I knew it would.”
The same had been said after a right-wing extremist killed 77 people in 2011, eight with a car bomb he set off in Oslo and another 69 when he opened fire at the nearby island summer camp run by the left-wing Labor Party’s youth wing. Anders Behring Breivik is serving a 21-year prison sentence for carrying out a terror attack.
Two days before she vanished, Anne-Elizabeth Hagen was serving a friend coffee at her and her husband’s home in Loerenskog, east of Oslo and some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Swedish border.
“She is a very nice, charming, decent and beautiful woman, and they had a good relationship in their marriage, where she encouraged him in his life and his work,” Glenn Hartmann-Hansen, a former colleague of Tom Hagen’s who has known the couple for half of their marriage.
Nestled between a secluded forest and more densely built housing blocks, the house they have lived in since 1982 is modest by multimillionaire standards. Tom Hagen isn’t one to flash his fortune, Hartmann-Hansen said.
“He is a normal guy with a normal house … who walks to his work and brings his packed lunch in his pocket,” he said.
The property and its occupants seemed to escape notice. Many Norwegians would recognize it now from news coverage of Anne-Elizabeth Hagen’s disappearance.
Holden said his client now hopes the extra attention might persuade the people believed to be holding her to make contact.
“Their aim is to get a proof of life, and if they get proof that she is alive then they are prepared to start a process to get her back safely,” Holden said.
Mark Lewis, The Associated Press
@repost Separation Divorce
Via Custody Lawyers
San Antonio police say they believe an eight-month-old boy reported as abducted is believed to be dead, and three members of his family have been charged in the case.
Police Chief William McManus says the father, grandmother and cousin of King Jay Davila have been charged in the case of the missing baby. All are in custody on evidence tampering charges.
At a Thursday night news conference, McManus said Christopher Davila is believed to have injured the child severely, then told police the boy was in a car that was stolen. McManus says Beatrice Sampayo, the child’s grandmother, is suspected of disposing of the child’s car seat and dropping off Angie Torres, the child’s cousin, who was seen on surveillance video as participating in a staged kidnapping.
McManus says the search continues for the child’s body.
Davila, who denied involvement in the child’s disappearance, is charged with child endangerment.
Via Types of Custody