Cover image for Defending Mohammad : justice on trial
Defending Mohammad : justice on trial
Precht, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1954-
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xi, 183 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
My appointment -- The right to a fair trial -- "We try cases in the courtroom" -- Discovery -- Strategy -- "Can you be fair and impartial?" -- Opening statements -- Relevance and prejudice -- "How are you going to feel?" -- Cross-examination -- "You guys aren't loyal" -- "A person like this one" -- "My father" -- "You don't see the case for what it is" -- A Christmas visit -- "I'm fairly certain he did it"-- "It was misleading" -- Mosque -- "Do not cry" -- Summations -- "I could not believe my ears" -- Verdict -- Appeal.
Format :


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KF224.S235 P74 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"The arrest of Mohammad Salameh, an illegal Palestinian immigrant, and three other Arab men in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing set off the first major Muslim scare in New York City history. It was in this atmosphere that the four defendants were indicted and stood trial for the terrorist act. I was a public defender with New York s Legal Aid Society at the time and by chance was assigned to represent the lead suspect, Salameh. The high-profile case snapped me out of my midcareer doldrums. Salameh was the ultimate underdog, and I was determined to ensure that he received a fair trial before an impartial jury. Unfortunately, the key court actors judge, prosecutors, and defense lawyers failed to meet this challenge.

Terrorism defendants are not predestined to receive unfair trials. If we are alert to the stress factors that can undermine impartiality, we can take measures to avoid transforming the potential for injustice into the actuality of an unfair proceeding." from the Preface

This is the inside story of an epic courtroom showdown between terrorism and the American legal system. On a snowy day in February 1993, a massive car bomb nearly toppled the World Trade Center. Four Middle Eastern men were quickly arrested and charged with the crime. At the time, Robert E. Precht was a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society Federal Defender Division in Manhattan, handling routine cases as a public defender. He was surprised to be appointed defense attorney to the chief suspect, Mohammad Salameh, and challenged as never before by the media circus that this major terrorism trial would prove to be. The events and personalities of the trial make for gripping reading, but equally compelling are Precht s observations on the forces arrayed against fair trials for accused terrorists."

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In 1993, Precht (assistant dean of public service, Univ. of Michigan Law Sch.) was a New York City public defender working a few cases a month when he was appointed to represent Mohammad Salameh, an alleged co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing. An illegal Palestinian immigrant, Salameh was identified as the renter of the infamous van that contained the bomb. What distinguishes the book as it proceeds chronologically, from Precht's appointment through the sentencing, is the author's candor. As he discusses trial strategy, he acknowledges the mistakes that he made. Similarly, he points out errors made by all involved and calls into question the idea of whether military tribunals should be used to prosecute terrorists. The author does an excellent job of explaining how a federal criminal trial is conducted while also telling a cautionary tale of the difficult job he had in ensuring the rights of his client in this high-profile case. Recommended for all collections.-Harry Charles, Attorney at Law, St. Louis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

As the assistant dean of public service at the University of Michigan Law School and the author of articles in the National Law Journal and The New York Times, Precht is well qualified to write this book. The volume in effect is the author's firsthand account of his experiences as a defense lawyer for the individual charged with the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Precht begins by explaining how he was chosen to defend the accused, and he proceeds to give a step-by-step account of the trial. He stresses the difficulty of obtaining a fair trial for individuals from backgrounds that are either feared or despised by a majority of Americans. He also sets out to demonstrate how dependent the US criminal justice system is on the honesty and integrity of the key human figures in the process, such as the judge and prosecuting attorney. The book contains some of the same themes as Terrorism and the Constitution, by David Cole and James S. Dempsey (CH, Jan'03) and In Defense of American Liberties, by Samuel Walker (CH, Sep'90). The volume is well written and easy to read and addresses an unusually timely subject. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers and academic libraries serving lower-and upper-division undergraduates and professionals. R. A. Carp University of Houston