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Moussaoui Dismisses Lawyers, Will Represent Himself

Aired June 13, 2002 - 15:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WHITFIELD: Well, this breaking news -- we want to take you to Alexandria, Virginia, then we're going to take you to "TALKBACK LIVE," where one of the attorneys for Zacarias Moussaoui is addressing reporters there.

Moussaoui won a victory, so to speak, in court today. He said he wants to represent himself. A federal judge agreed. So let's listen in.

FRANK DUNHAM, MOUSSAOUI ATTORNEY: He's got a judge that has the patience of Job. She's very patient with him, and it may be possible that she can conclude this trial with him as counsel in a orderly fashion. But it will be very difficult.

QUESTION: Why do you think he seems even more distrustful of you than (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

EDWARD MACMAHON, MOUSSAOUI ATTORNEY: Let me add to what Frank said. The motion that the judge wouldn't rule on today was a motion that we filed, dealing with his conditions of confinement, and how he is being kept in the jail, how he can't interview witnesses, see any evidence at all.

We don't believe, and we still don't believe that Mr. Moussaoui can get a fair trial, given the conditions of his confinement and the restrictions imposed upon him by the government in terms of reviewing evidence. That hasn't changed just because we got withdrawn.

QUESTION: Why do you think (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on -- let's start -- go ahead.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he thinks you guys have it out for him? What is that all about?

GERALD ZERKIN, MOUSSAOUI ATTORNEY: We don't know the answer to why he thinks that, and we're certainly not going to comment on anything that he said.

QUESTION: Do you have it out for him?

ZERKIN: Well, that's just a preposterous question. DUNHAM: That's a ridiculous question.

ZERKIN: Why don't we get to somebody who's got an intelligent question. I'm starting to feel like...

DUNHAM: Obviously, we were working as hard for this man as we know how to do as defense attorneys.

And as you heard the judge, we put together an experienced team with nationally recognized experts in death penalty litigation.

We don't know why Mr. Moussaoui believes the way he does. It's that belief that caused us to question his mental status and ask for the exam.

We just don't think that if it was a member of your family, you'd be satisfied with the kind of exam this man got. If you had a member of your family acting in a bizarre way, with bizarre beliefs, I think you'd want a little more thorough exam than what happened in this case, and we didn't get it. And we tried.

QUESTION: How long will it take another attorney to get up to speed on all the information that you've gathered until now?

ZERKIN: A real long time.

DUNHAM: A real long time. In fact, if he the sat down and began reading now, he couldn't read it all by the time the trial begins.

QUESTION: Do you think that the bar is set too high in determining competence in the court system here?

DUNHAM: I think it's set too low.

QUESTION: Is it too difficult?

QUESTION: And you mentioned something about his siblings having mental problems. Can you elaborate on that?

DUNHAM: I'm not going to comment further on that than what I said in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the question?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just told you in court he hasn't shared anything, about his defense with his lawyers, and you should take that at face value, I don't have any idea what his defense is. I told the judge that, and that's the truth.

QUESTION: Did armed British police raid his home in London prior to September 11?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll have to ask the British police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go find the British police and ask them.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ... refusing to give another examination, is that appealable (ph)? Is that something that, if another attorney got involved later on, could someone use that as the basis for an appeal?

(UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The issue, of course, is something that could be raised on direct appeal, after the case is over. That's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Well, you've been listening to the attorneys that have been representing Zacarias Moussaoui. He is the alleged 20th hijacker in the September 11 attacks.

Those attorneys made it very clear that they were puzzled as to why Zacarias Moussaoui wanted to make that motion, and successfully did so in federal court today, in Alexandria, to represent himself.

Those attorneys say that that request being made by Moussaoui is, in their view, underscores why his mental state is not up to par, but the federal judge disagreed with those attorneys, allowing Moussaoui to have the green light in which to represent himself in court.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield from the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. We want to go now to TALKBACK LIVE with Arthel Neville.

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