Crime - Sacto 911

Prosecutors postpone decision on seeking new trial of Lodi terror suspect Hamid Hayat

Federal prosecutors have postponed a decision on whether to seek a new trial against one-time Lodi terror suspect Hamid Hayat, who was released from prison in August after a judge ruled he did not receive an effective defense in his 2006 trial in Sacramento.

Lawyers on both sides were scheduled to appear at a status conference in federal court in Sacramento on Friday to discuss Hayat’s future, but the government filed documents late Monday seeking a postponement until Nov. 22.

“The government has not decided what to do,” lead defense attorney Dennis Riordan said Tuesday. “They called and said they need more time.

“We did not object to that. We want to give them all the time they need to make the right decision.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento had no comment.

The Justice Department in Washington is expected to make the final decision on whether to retry Hayat, who spent 13 years in an Arizona prison following his conviction.

He was released under the condition that he submit to the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office, not seek a new passport, not travel outside the boundaries of the Sacramento-based Eastern District of California and follow a curfew that he remain at home between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The court filing gives no indication of the government’s next steps in deciding whether to pursue a new trial, but indicates the difficulty that such a move would entail.

“The parties agree that a re-trial in this matter will require substantial preparation by defense counsel, including a fresh review of all pre-trial discovery, which includes hours of recorded conversations and other exhibits, identification and preparation of experts and other defense eyewitnesses, and potential pursuit of security clearances or co-counsel in possession of such clearances,” court documents say.

Hayat, a Lodi cherry picker, was arrested along with his father, Umer, after the family returned from a trip to Pakistan.

FBI agents accused Hamid Hayat of going overseas to train in a terror camp in a bid to wage jihad against the United States in the post-9/11 era. His lawyers say he went overseas looking for a wife and never set foot anywhere near a training camp.

Umer Hayat, who was accused of lying to the FBI, ultimately took a plea deal and was sentenced to time served.

Hamid Hayat went to trial represented by Sacramento attorney Wazhma Mojaddidi, who at the time had never tried a criminal case in federal court.

He was found guilty of terror-related charges and sentenced to 24 years in prison, but his appellate attorneys argued for years that Hayat had been railroaded into false confessions during marathon FBI interviews and that his defense had been woefully inadequate.

U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr., who oversaw the original trial, ultimately agreed and ordered Hayat’s release.

Hayat, an American citizen who was born in San Joaquin County, has been living with his family since his release and looking to enroll in college classes to continue an education he began in prison, Riordan said.

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Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.