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Rasmea Odeh Appeal Oral Argument (Audio)

Rasmea Odeh Appeal Oral Argument (Audio)

Oral argument seems to have gone well for the defense, but the outcome is anyone’s guess.

Rasmea Odeh is the supermarket bomber who killed Hebrew University students Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner in 1969, served 10 years in Israeli prison before being released in a prisoner exchange, and then made her way to the U.S. in the mid-1990s.

Rasmea then lied on her visa (1994) and naturalization (2003) applications, among other ways, by denying that she ever had been charged, convicted or imprisoned. Rasmea was convicted in federal court in Detroit in November 2014 of immigration fraud, sentenced to 18 months in prison, and ordered deported.

We have covered many times how Rasmea is being treated as a hero by the anti-Israel activist community, The Sickening Deification of Rasmea Odeh. That despite the fact that the evidence of her guilt in the bombing and the immigration charge is overwhelming.

Today Rasmea’s appeal was argued in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. I had hoped to attend, but was unable. Fortunately the audio of the oral argument is posted online (and at the bottom of this post).

My analysis of the appeal merits is set forth in the following posts:

The key issue on appeal is that the trial court did not permit Rasmea to call an expert witness who would have testified that Rasmea’s alleged torture in prison in 1969-1970 caused her post traumatic stress syndrome such that when she denied, in 1994 and 2003, on immigration forms that she ever had been convicted or imprisoned, she interpreted the questions as to apply only to her time in the United States.

There was no claim that she blocked the memory out — in fact at trial she affirmatively testified that she remembered the events but didn’t think the questions called for that information. The trial judge did not even hold a full expert hearing (needed in federal court to qualify an expert both on the appropriateness of the topic and the expert’s qualifications), because he ruled that legally such testimony was not allowed for a general intent crime, such as the one at issue.

The appeal focused on that issue, and also the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, which narrows the grounds for which expert testimony can be introduced in a criminal case as to state of mind, and requires certain procedures be used. Rasmea did not assert an insanity defense. The government argued that what she is claiming on appeal, that she was incapable of knowing she was being untruthful because of a mental disorder, was “insanity” as defined under the Act and expert testimony was not permitted because she did not assert an insanity defense.

If all you listened to was the audio, it seems like Rasmea had a good day in court. The judges seemed somewhat sympathetic not so much to her claims, but the issue of whether the trial judge at least should have held a full expert qualification hearing.

It may be that the judges will or already have decided the case, but just were probing if there were any ground on which to reverse. But there is so much more in the briefs that should negate her appeal, that it’s hard to know if the judges were just playing devil’s advocate.

For example, Rasmea didn’t just lie about her conviction and imprisonment, she also lied about where she lived during her life, falsely representing she always had lived in Jordan. Additionally, the argument that in 1994 she thought the questions only applied to conviction in the U.S. makes no sense, since at that point she had not yet arrived in the U.S.

Whether and to what extent the judges actually will focus exclusively on the highly technical issues of general versus specific intent, and the Insanity Defense Reform Act, or consider some of these other issues, remains to be seen.

Many times I have left an argument feeling I did great, or horribly, and the result was the opposite of what I expected.

I make no predictions as to appeals. The conviction should stand, but whether it will is anyone’s guess.


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Maybe they’ll let her off so she can be Hillary’s VP pick.

Just a minor point, Professor. At this stage, Rasmieh Odeh is procedurally the ‘Appellant’ and not the ‘Defendant’.

So, you think the Appellant had a good day in court? Sometimes the judges appear to be sympathetic before they lower the boom. I hope this is the case.

“I make no predictions as to appeals.”

Me, either. I clerked for a federal appellate judge.

While I realize these decisions seem to have more to with whether or not the Judge liked their most recent meal or not. I wonder if it will turn out to be one of those decisions says, “Yes there was an error, but not one significant enough to reverse the conviction. It will pretty much come down do how many activist judges are on the panel.

MouseTheLuckyDog | October 15, 2015 at 2:22 am

I think you a re taking counsel from your fears.

To me first, of all, it seemed like the justices were very skeptical of Odeh’s general innocence. To the point where when when arguing with the government about a point Odeh might make–the judge essentially said “yeah like I really buy that”. That counts for something.

To me it sounded like they really didn’t like the Appellant’s arguments but thought that some of the Prosecution’s arguments had a looseness they wanted him to tighten up, That’s what they seemed to be riding him.

I don’t see them ordering a new trial at this point. Most likely they will order the judge to hold an evidentiary hearing on the admissibility of the testimony of the shrink with some specific guidelines, that the judge will hold that hearing, decide once again that the shrink can’t testify and that’s that.

Whats the latest update on this story? Everything seems to have gone quiet?