[Pnews] Rasmea Odeh’s attorney hits it out of the park in appellate court

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 15 10:43:09 EDT 2015

          14 October 2015


    Rasmea’s attorney hits it out of the park in appellate court

Appealing the November 2014 federal conviction of prominent 
Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh, lead defense attorney Michael 
Deutsch gave a powerful oral argument in front of a panel of three 
judges—Alice Batchelder, Karen Moore, and John Rogers—in Cincinnati, at 
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Hammering home the point that Rasmea never received a full and fair 
trial in Detroit last year 
Deutsch deftly addressed the judges’ questions, and made a compelling 
argument that, at her trial for Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, 
she should have been able to testify about her state of mind when she 
filled out her citizenship application in 2004.

The Department of Homeland Security arrested Odeh on October 22, 2013, 
and charged her for allegedly failing to disclose, in that application 
for U.S. citizenship, that she was arrested in Palestine in 1969 and 
tried in an Israeli military court that convicts 99.74% of Palestinians 
who come before it. Odeh’s conviction in Palestine in 1970 was based on 
a forced confession that was obtained after she was viciously tortured 
and sexually assaulted by the Israelis 

Odeh suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of this 
torture, which according to world renowned psychologist, Dr. Mary Fabri, 
caused her to suppress the horrible recollection of the arrest when she 
answered questions in the application. Fabri testified in a pre-trial 
hearing, prompting Judge Gershwin Drain to initially rule that she can 
testify at trial. But he almost immediately reversed himself after a 
prosecution filing, and ultimately disallowed any evidence about the 
rape and torture. Deutsch was convincing in his claims that this was a 
legal error, and that Rasmea must be afforded the chance to tell her story.

Prosecutor Jonathan Tukel, who supporters of Rasmea remember as the 
lawyer who tried to bully her during the trial, continued with his tired 
arguments, claiming that testimony from a psychologist should be 
inadmissible and could not stand up to scrutiny. The judges responded by 
pointing out that the legal precedent he was citing was an unpublished 
opinion, not any kind of legal precedent the court is bound to uphold.

Rasmea’s supporters were silently thrilled to watch the judges press 
Tukel, who was unable to offer any reason that she should not be 
entitled to have an expert testify in her defense. Instead, Judge 
Rogers’ remarks reinforced the idea that expert testimony could 
potentially establish reasonable doubt that Rasmea knowingly misled 
immigration officials.

Following the thirty-minute hearing, Rasmea, her attorneys, and her 
supporters joined a number of additional followers outside the 
courthouse for a rally featuring Deutsch, Frank Chapman of the Chicago 
Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Brian Taylor of Black 
Lives Matter Cincinnati, Jess Sundin of the Committee to Stop FBI 
Repression, and others. Visibly excited and motivated by what they had 
heard in the appellate court, the crowd of over 100 held posters, raised 
chants, and echoed Rasmea’s own determination to beat back this attack 
on her and on the Palestine liberation struggle.

Chapman, a veteran Black organizer who is extremely popular with 
Palestinians in Chicago, and who has traveled to almost all of Rasmea’s 
court appearances, said, “Make no mistake; this is a racist, political 
prosecution against Rasmea because she is a Palestinian who organizes 
for her people’s liberation.”

Deutsch thanked the crowd and explained how important it is to fill the 
courtroom. “It means a lot to Rasmea, and also shows the court that she 
is loved and respected,” he said.

He then answered questions about the appeals process, saying that a 
decision could be rendered between one and four months from now. If the 
court agrees with the defense and overturns the conviction and the 
sentencing, the case gets sent back to the prosecution to possibly 
re-file charges, whereupon the entire trial process begins anew. But 
this time, evidence of torture, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), 
etc., would be allowed into the courtroom. Also, the court, without 
reversing the conviction, could simply compel Judge Drain to allow for 
another evidentiary hearing with Dr. Fabri. Alternatively, if the court 
upholds the conviction but disagrees with the sentence, the appellate 
judges send new sentencing guidelines back to Drain for re-sentencing.

In the worst possible scenario, her conviction and sentencing would be 
upheld, meaning that she would have to serve 18 months in prison and 
then be deported. If this happens without the decision being unanimous, 
the defense could ask that all of the 6th Circuit appellate court 
judges, not just the three panelists, review the case. If this does not 
work, then a last ditch effort could be an attempt to appeal to the 
Supreme Court, which hears only 2% of cases filed.

The Rasmea Defense Committee organized two busloads of Chicagoans to 
Cincinnati, as well as dozens of other supporters from Florida, Georgia, 
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. We have succeeded in 
building a national movement to stand by Rasmea, to protest this attack 
on her, to stand with her at every court date, and to fully fund her 
defense. We call on everyone to continue supporting our fundraising 
<http://justice4rasmea.org/donate/>, organizing public events, and 
pitching Rasmea’s story <http://justice4rasmea.org/about/> to media 
across the country and the world.

*There is still much more organizing to be done!*


The Rasmea Defense Committee 
<http://justice4rasmea.org/defense-committee/> is led by United States 
Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) <http://uspcn.org/>, Committee to 
Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) <http://www.stopfbi.net/>, and Coalition to 
Protect People’s Rights (CPPR).

www.justice4rasmea.org <http://justice4rasmea.org/>
@Justice4Rasmea <https://twitter.com/Justice4Rasmea>

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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