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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Lawyers: Martin coached Moussaoui witnesses to protect airlines
Greg Sampson at 10:06 AM ET

[JURIST] Lawyers representing victims of the 9/11 attacks said Friday that Transportation Security Administration lawyer Carla J. Martin, alleged to have coached witnesses [JURIST report] and disclosed part of the government's case in violation of a sequestration order [PDF] in the trial against Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive], did so to ensure that witness statements did not undermine the defense strategy of United Airlines and American Airlines in a separate civil action brought by 9/11 families. The lawyers noted that the government's case against Moussaoui took the position that gate security could have stopped the hijackers had security personnel been on the look-out for short-bladed knives such as the ones used by the hijackers. This position is completely contrary to the airlines' defense strategy and would substantially undermine their case. Communications between Martin and airline defense lawyers were outlined in a brief [PDF, see especially letter appended] filed by Moussaoui defense lawyers Thursday.

Martin has since been on administrative leave [JURIST report]. Her actions initially prompted trial judge Leonie Brinkema to reject [JURIST report] all aviation evidence presented by the government, but she later revised that order [JURIST report] to cover only the evidence Martin was dealing with. Late Friday, defense counsel for Moussaoui asked the court to hold an additional evidentiary hearing to allow Martin to tell her story [Motion to Reconvene Evidentiary Hearing, PDF] before allowing the trial to proceed with "untainted" evidence on the basis of her revised order. AP has more.

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