A federal judge is expected to review an attorney's request that Lodi resident Hamid Hayat receive a new trial next week, and the judge also wants to address allegations against the jury foreman.
Nearly a year after he was convicted of providing support to terrorists, Hayat is still awaiting a judge's decision whether to grant him a new trial or sentence him to as much as 39 years in prison.
Hayat, now 25, remains in the Sacramento County Jail, where he has been held since June 5, 2005. As he has been since the beginning, Hayat is housed in a solo cell, said his attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi. Such housing is not unusual in cases with harsh allegations or international media attention, such as the Hayat matter.
A hearing in U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.'s Sacramento courtroom had already been scheduled for April 6 to discuss a defense motion for a new trial. On Friday, Burrell notified attorneys that he also wants to address the "hangman gesture" at that hearing.
Should Burrell find that the jury foreman was biased, it would likely result in a new trial. Burrell could also rule against the defense and set a sentencing date.
Hayat and his father, both U.S. citizens, were arrested during a large FBI investigation in Lodi, and the case also resulted in the deportation of two local mosque leaders, as well as one of the leaders' sons.
The Hayats went on trial in federal court early last year, both charged with lying to the FBI about their knowledge of terror training camps in Pakistan. The younger Hayat was also charged with providing material support by attending such a camp.
After a two month trial, jurors convicted Hayat on April 24, 2006. A separate jury deadlocked on the lying charges against Umer Hayat. He later accepted a plea deal and admitted to lying about the amount of money his family was taking to Pakistan on a 2002 trip. In exchange, Umer Hayat was sentenced to the 11 months he'd already spent in jail.
Shortly after the trial ended, jurors in Hamid Hayat's case said the foreman was biased and, during a break in the midst of trial, had made a gesture of a hangman's noose. The foreman, John Cote, later told a national magazine reporter that he'd rather risk convicting an innocent man than to acquit a guilty man.