An angry federal judge considered Monday whether to dismiss the government’s death penalty case against confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui after a federal attorney coached witnesses in violation of her rules.
“I do not want to act precipitously,” U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said in scheduling a special hearing on the case Tuesday, but she said that it was “very difficult for this case to go forward.”
Brinkema said a lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration sent e-mail to seven Federal Aviation Administration officials outlining the prosecution’s opening statements and providing commentary on government witnesses from the first day of testimony. That was in violation of her pre-trial order barring witnesses from exposure to any opening statements of trial testimony.
“An attorney for the TSA … egregiously breached that order,” she told jurors before excusing them. Of the seven, three were to testify for the government and four were potential defense witnesses.
The mind boggles.