Asserts PTSD defense to immigration fraud, but didn’t want gov’t mental exam ahead of crucial hearing.
Rasmea Odeh is the terrorist member of the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was convicted in Israel in 1970 of the 1969 bombing the SuperSol supermarket in Jerusalem that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner.
Rasmea also was convicted of the attempted bombing of the British Consulate.
Rasmea was released in 1979 in a prisoner exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon.
Rasmea made her way to the U.S. in the mid-1990s, where she lied on her visa application by denying any prior convictions or imprisonment, and again in her 2003 naturalization application when she repeated the same false answer. For more background, and how Rasmea’s supporters have distorted history, see Rasmea Odeh rightly convicted of Israeli supermarket bombing and U.S. immigration fraud and Rasmea Odeh’s victims – then and now.Rasmea was convicted of immigration fraud in federal court in Detroit in November 2014, sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered deported after release from prison.
Rasmea has become a hero to the anti-Israel movement in the U.S., which falsely claims she confessed to the supermarket bombing only after 25 days of horrific sexual torture. In fact, the records show she confessed the day after arrest, there was substantial corroborating evidence, and she received a trial that an observer from the International Red Cross termed fair. Rasmea’s main co-conspirator has said in a video interview decades later that Rasmea was the mastermind.
The Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial court (but did not reverse the jury conviction) to hold a hearing as to whether Rasmea should have been permitted to call a PTSD expert to testify in the original trial to bolster Rasmea’s claim that she did not knowingly lie. If the trial court rules that the PTSD defense does not meet the scientific standards required for such testimony, then the conviction stands. If the trial court rules the expert testimony admissible, then there will be a new trial in January 2017.
That PTSD defense is highly unusual because Rasmea does not claim she blocked out memory of her conviction and imprisonment, but rather, that her trauma caused her to misinterpret the question of whether she “EVER” (caps and bold on original naturalization form) had been convicted or imprisoned. There is serious question whether this novel and speculative defense can pass the test for expert testimony in federal court.
The court will hold the hearing on the PTSD expert on November 29, 2016, but in advance of that, granted the prosecution’s motion for a government expert to conduct a mental examination of Rasmea similar in length to that conducted by Rasmea’s own expert.
Rasmea’s defense team then moved to cancel the court-ordered mental exam, arguing that the exam would be “triggering” to Rasmea. Alternatively, the defense sought to modify the exam, requiring detailed disclosure as to the government’s expert, his/her qualifications, the methods to be used during the exam, to have a friend/ally present during the exam, to cut back the time of the exam, and to move the exam to DePaul Law School, a location Rasmea’s defense team argued would be more neutral than the prosecutor’s office.
We examined the motion to modify and the government’s response in these posts:
- Court orders Rasmea Odeh to undergo mental exam in immigration fraud case
- U.N. records contradict key Rasmea Odeh claim in motion to prevent mental examination
- Govt: Rasmea Odeh defense made “completely false” representation in motion to modify mental exam
- Rasmea Odeh defense tries to squirm out of “completely false” representation to court on mental exam issue
The only concessions to Rasmea’s defense team were that the prosecution has to tell Rasmea’s lawyers the name of the expert but no more information and that name is for “attorney’s eyes only” and cannot be shared with Rasmea’s supporters or the public. Additionally, the exam can take place at DePaul Law School of such other location as the parties agree upon. Otherwise, it’s full steam ahead for the mental exam as previously ordered.
Here are the key portions of the court ruling.
The Court believes there may be some merit to the Defendant’s claims that conducting the examination at the United States Attorney’s Office will be intimidating. Such a result may also compromise the examination, from the Defendant’s perspective. Moreover, as to the disclosure of the Government expert’s identity, the Court finds no harm in releasing this information to the Defendant prior to the examination. However, the Court will limit the disclosure to the attorneys’ eyes only.
As to the remainder of Defendant’s requests, the Court is not persuaded that the additional disclosures and modifications are warranted under the circumstances. Defendant will obtain the curriculum vitae information of the Government’s expert at the time the expert reports and disclosures are exchanged….
The Court also finds that disclosure of the expert’s testing and procedures is unwarranted and could compromise the examination if Defendant were apprised of thetests to be administered. Additionally, Defendant may not have a companion attend
the examination, which would undermine the integrity of the examination….
The Government shall disclose the identity of its Expert on or before September 29, 2016. The identity and disclosure shall be limited to the attorneys’ eyes only and specifically, shall not be disclosed to the Defendant’s supporters, the general public or the media.
The location of the examination shall occur at a neutral location. If the parties cannot agree on a suitable location near Defendant’s home, the examination shall take place at DePaul School of Law.
The examination shall take place between October 3, 2016 and October 7, 2016.
As I have mentioned many times before, the point of the PTSD defense is not that Rasmea actually had PTSD such that she misinterpreted the clear questions. Rasmea’s own prior testimony disproves that claim, as she testified that she decided not to reveal the terrorism and murder conviction and imprisonment because she thought “EVER” only applied to her time since arriving in the U.S. Instead, Rasmea and her legal team seek jury nullification, the hope that a jury will feel sorry for what allegedly happened to her in prision 45 years ago, and will not convict her for that reason.
That is why the expert hearing on November 29 is so important.————- DONATE
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