This Week in the Mercury


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Just Because He Could Walk Away Doesn't Mean It Wasn't Entrapment"

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 2:06 PM

I was on OPB's Think Out Loud this morning (they made me waffles!) to talk about my coverage comparing the Turnidge case to Mohamed Osman Mohamud's case—both are politically motivated bombing cases, but while Mohamud is being tried on federal terrorism charges, the word "terrorism" was never stuck on the Turnidges (who blew up a bank in Woodburn last year, killing two police officers and were recently convicted of the state crime of aggravated murder).

The other guy on the program with me was Lewis and Clark law professor Tung Yin, who has been dishing out the legal insight on Mohamud's case (as well as critiques of local pizza) over on his blog. He put up an interesting piece recently about whether Mohamud's case could qualify as entrapment. Attorney General Eric Holder said the case is not entrapment because, essentially, Mohamud could have walked away at any time but chose to push forward with the plan:

I'm hesitant to criticize the Attorney General, but if he is indeed saying that the case was not entrapment because Mohamud was allegedly told repeatedly that he could walk away from the bomb plot, then I think he's at best vastly overlooking the importance of the first encounter, and at worst, wrong. In other words, if the government can prove that in the first meeting, Mohamud was already predisposed to engage in terrorism, then the government defeats the entrapment defense. On the other hand, if the government can't prove that Mohamud had the predisposition at the first meeting, then I'm not sure I see how it necessarily wins by showing that he later on didn't walk away.

Interesting points. If you for some unthinkable reason missed the broadcast this morning, you can listen to the archive here. Sorry about my husky voice.

Update 2:43 pm— The Oregonian posted the news today that Mohamud's lawyers are seeking legal action to prevent Atty General Holder from talking about the case: "By opining on the merits of the case," they wrote, "the government pollutes the jury pool with inappropriate opinions and prejudgments."

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