Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Fear Of Justice Forces Justice

The Fifth Amendment says in part that "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger;.... nor shall any person.... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...."

This pesky little amendment (of course not as important as Amendment 2 that allows you to own and possess a gun) is what kept Jose Padilla behind bars for 3 years without being charged, and it is what required him to be charged yesterday.

The fear of Padilla being brought to justice, forced the hand of the Department of Justice.

Jose Padilla may be a terrorist. Then again, in today's day and age, everyone who walks through airport security may be the shoe bomber, but probably isn't.

Jose Padilla may be innocent.

But there can be no determination of innocence or guilt without the opportunity for a trial. There can be no trial without charges being filed. You think it's ok to keep someone behind bars indefinitely because he may be a terrorist or because we're at war? My question is, for what reason? What has Jose Padilla done in the eyes of the law? Not in the eyes of angry people who believe anyone accused of being a terrorist is in fact, a terrorist.

The day we keep people behind bars just because the government accuses them of being criminals......., well, wait, that day has come.

Yesterday though, the Justice Department, fearing that the US Supreme Court would force the release of Padilla, indicted him here in Miami.

Now "Justice" can commence, whatever that Justice may be.

For a wonderful read on this story, with links to the indictment and other tidbits about the judge, go to Criminal Defense Attorney David Markus' critically acclaimed Southern District of Florida Blog, the best place for information on the ever interesting federal court system in South Florida.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please click the link: