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Jewish World Review April 26, 2002 /14 Iyar, 5762

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

Cochran, Simpson calm '20th hijacker' | During a 50-minute outburst in the Alexandria, VA courthouse, alleged terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui said he wanted to fire his court-appointed lawyers and represent himself. To help him understand the uniqueness of the American legal system, the judge brought in two experts: O.J. Simpson and Johnny Cochran.

"My lawyers conspire with prosecutors to send me to gas chamber!" said Moussaoui.

"Man, will you relax," said O.J. "You're in America now."

"Zacarias will never relax," said Moussaoui "Zacarias want to fire government lawyers and hire Muslim lawyer."

"The government will have your hide if that's what you decide," said Cochran.

"He's right, Z," said O.J. "Look, you have to understand that the legal system is way more forgiving here than it is in other countries."

"How is different?" said Moussaoui.

"First off, in America you're innocent until proven guilty," said O.J. "The burden is on the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

"But what if Zacarias really is guilty of conspiring to fly planes into buildings on September 11th?" said Moussaoui.

"Guilt has little to do with it," said O.J. winking to Cochran.

"It ain't the guilt, but the case that's built," said Cochran.

"Johnny's right, Z," said O.J. "Sure, the evidence seems to show you were supposed to be the 20th hijacker on September 11th. It was awful dumb of you, one month prior to the attacks, to tell that flight school you didn't need to learn how to take off or land, but just to turn a plane while flying."

"Oopsy-daisy," said Moussaoui.

"And it is true the U.S. government figures it has a real strong case against you, which is why they're seeking the death penalty," continued O.J. "But a solid case and lots of evidence don't mean you're cooked in America."

"Zacarias no understand."

"Look," said O.J., "our founders were so concerned about the excesses of government, they put all kinds of brakes into our legal process. They'd rather ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be jailed."

"Impossible!" said Moussaoui.

"It's true," said O.J. "The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1791 to make sure individual rights were protected, including for criminal defendants. Even you are protected."

"Tell me about these Bill of Rights," said Moussaoui.

"For starters, the government needs to get a warrant before they can search your property," said O.J. "That's covered in the fourth amendment."

"They must get a writ before it is legit," said Cochran.

"The sixth amendment is one of my favorites," said O.J. "It protects criminal defendants by guaranteeing a speedy trial by jury and by providing assistance of counsel if you can't afford it."

"But Zacarias want to represent self with help from Muslim lawyer," said Moussaoui.

"Don't be a fool, man," said O.J. "You want experienced people who know the American system. A skilled lawyer can find a couple million ways, for a small fee of a couple million dollars, to outwit the prosecution and plant doubt in the minds of the jury members."

"But Zacarias no want jury. Zacarias want judge to decide fate."

"So naive," said O.J. "That jury is your only shot at making the next Al Qaeda reunion. A judge is much less likely to be persuaded by a slick lawyer. But give me 12 average Joes who have to reach a unanimous agreement, or face the prospect of staying in the same hotel together WITHOUT cable, and I'll give you victory."

"The prosecution is full of worry every time there is a jury," said Cochran.

"Like I been saying, Z, you need to relax," said O.J. "You're in America now, land of the free, the civilized, the loophole. America is not like those intolerant places you're more familiar with."


"Yeah," said O.J. "Remember those Taliban cats? They beat, maimed and killed people who disobeyed their rigid laws. They never gave anybody any presumption of innocence."

"Let me get straight," said Moussaoui. "In America, Zacarias innocent until proven guilty. Zacarias must be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. All 12 jury members must be unanimous in lack of doubt to convict and execute Zacarias. And slick lawyer can always create doubt."

"Now you got it," said O.J.

"Zacarias is beginning to like this America."

"America is a fair and tolerant place, something you fanatics fail to embrace," said Cochran.

"Anything else we can help you with, Z?" said O.J.

"Just one," said Moussaoui. "Make Johnny Cochran stop rhymes."

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© 2002, Tom Purcell