Judge Slams Rasmieh Odeh’s Request for New Trial
Saying defense attorneys had merely rehashed old arguments on which he’s already ruled, a Federal judge on Friday rejected a request to either grant Rasmieh Odeh a new trial or overturn a jury’s November conviction.
Odeh, 67, was found guilty on November 10 on one count of naturalization fraud for failing to disclose her Israeli convictions for leading a 1969 Jerusalem grocery store bombing plot that left two college students dead. Odeh claimed her convictions were a product of mistreatment in Israeli custody.
In applications to come to the United States on a visa in 1995, and to become an American citizen in 2004, Odeh claimed she had never been arrested, convicted, or imprisoned. At various times, she claimed she thought the question only pertained to her time in the United States, or didn’t mention the Israeli case because she felt it was an unjust verdict.
Her naturalization fraud case prompted a national campaign to cast Odeh as a victim of persecution and to pressure prosecutors into dropping the charge.
Defense attorneys asked for a new trial, saying U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain erred in pre-trial rulings which aimed at keeping the case focused on what Odeh told U.S. immigration officials and not re-trying her Israeli terrorism case. One ruling barred expert testimony that would have claimed Odeh suffered post-traumatic stress from her time in Israeli custody.
Drain seemed frustrated by the defense motion, describing it as “so lacking in legal authority and argument, it should be denied on this basis alone. Defendant claims the Court committed nine legal errors, yet fails to cite a single case, statute, rule or other authority supporting her assertion. Defendant did not even include the legal standard for granting new trials. Nor does she develop her arguments in any meaningful way.”
He pointed to trial testimony from immigration officers who said visa applicants and immigrants applying for naturalization are denied if it is known they had convictions for crimes like murder and terrorism.
Jurors believed those officials and “clearly did not believe Defendant’s explanation” about misunderstanding the questions, Drain wrote. “[T]he evidence was more than sufficient to support the jury’s verdict.”
Odeh is scheduled to be sentenced on March 12 in Detroit. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and will lose her American citizenship.
Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.