A dispute in Sacramento federal court continued Monday over evidence the government has and has not turned over to the attorneys for a father and son from Lodi charged with lying about terrorist ties.
Lead prosecutor R. Steven Lapham said he has turned over everything he has or is aware of that he is legally obligated to turn over at this stage of the case.
But defense attorneys Johnny Griffin III and Wazhma Mojaddidi told U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter A. Nowinski they are aware of information in the government's possession that has not been given to them.
The defense attorneys are pressing hard to get all the evidence quickly because they have not waived the provisions of the federal Speedy Trial Act, which requires a defendant to be tried within 70 days of being charged.
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Griffin, a former state and federal prosecutor, and Mojaddidi are now aiming for an Aug. 29 trial date, apparently on the theory that the nature of the government's continuing investigation will leave the prosecutors unprepared for trial.
Thus far, Griffin told Nowinski, the defense has received 55 pages of documents and 13 compact discs, and he knows that is not all of the government's evidence.
Mojaddidi's client, 22-year-old Hamid Hayat, purportedly admitted training at a Pakistan camp to learn "how to kill Americans."
According to prosecutors, he at first denied, then admitted, and now denies being trained as a terrorist.
Griffin's client, 47-year-old Umer Hayat, at first denied, then admitted, and now denies his son's involvement in terrorist training, according to prosecutors.
The Hayats, both U.S. citizens, are charged in a three-count grand jury indictment with lying to FBI agents about their participation in and knowledge of terrorist training in their native Pakistan.
Lapham told the magistrate judge that "the government will meet its legal obligations insofar as the disclosure of evidence to the defense is concerned." He said the defense attorneys have arranged to review the evidence seized in a search of the Hayats' residence "commencing this afternoon." He also said the U.S. attorney's office will shortly begin the process of checking a multitude of databases for information about the Hayats.
Griffin has given the prosecution the names of more than 40 government agencies he wants checked for any references to the defendants.
Lapham said the government has documents in a foreign language that continue to be transcribed.
Out of all this may come some information that is classified, he said. If that happens, prosecutors will follow the guidelines of the Classified Protection Act in handling the material. He did not elaborate on how that might affect access by the defense attorneys.
"Agents have been out interviewing a lot of witnesses," Griffin told Nowinski. "Some of that is exculpatory, and we don't have it."
Mojaddidi said Hamid Hayat is accused in the indictment of lying June 4 about specified matters, but she does not have all his statements.
Lapham countered that the material was faxed to her.
What was faxed to her, Mojaddidi said, were two questions and two answers from a polygraph examination administered to her client by the FBI.
"There were other statements Hamid made on June 4," she insisted.
"I know my client made statements in the early morning hours of June 5 that I don't have," Griffin said of Umer Hayat. "They haven't given them to me."
At that point, Lapham asked for a sidebar conference, and the four attorneys huddled for a time with Nowinski at the judge's bench outside the hearing of the press and spectators.
When the attorneys returned to their respective counsel tables, Lapham said: "This is an ongoing investigation. We continue to review materials. There may be a widening of the case. We continue to meet our obligation to turn over materials in a timely manner."
Griffin interjected, "Just so you acknowledge there's stuff still out there."
"This is a very fast-moving investigation," Lapham continued. "It commenced shortly after Hamid Hayat returned here from Pakistan on May 29. A lot of information has been generated in a very short time, much of it in a foreign language. Our review of the information continues."
Griffin asked Nowinski if he and Mojaddidi are free to share the evidence with their clients.
Again, Lapham asked for a sidebar conference and the attorneys huddled with the judge.
Nowinski then announced the defense attorneys may share the material they have been given so far, except for certain parts, to be designated by the prosecutors, of the affidavit in support of the search of the Hayat home.
The Hayats are next due in court Friday for a status conference before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.
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- The Bee's Denny Walsh can be reached at (916) 321-1189 or email@example.com.