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After deliberating for 19 days, the jury in United States v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, et al . told the judge that 11 out of 12 of them had determined that further deliberations would not lead to unanimity among the panel members. As a result, Chief U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish declared a mistrial. First Assistant to the US Attorney of the Northern District of Texas Jim Jacks told the judge that the prosection planned to retry the case. The judge, who is shifting to senior status this month, said he would not preside over a retrial but rather let another judge take it over. Although the judge declared a mistrial on all the charges against four of the individual defendants present for trial, Fish did enter not guilty verdicts on all but one of the counts against defendant Mohammad El-Mezain, who had been the original chairman of the charity but had not had a leadership position in its recent history. He declared a mistrial on the count against Mezain charging him with conspiring to fund terrorists. Fish entered the not guilty judgment on those counts for Mezain after he polled three individual jurors who had previously said this morning that they did not agree with the rest of the panel’s decision. After individual jurors said they didn’t agree with the panel, the judge then asked the jury foreperson to go back with jurors and deliberate further. Last Thursday, jurors notified the court that they had reached verdicts, but because Fish was out of town, the verdicts were not read until today. The trial, which began on July 16, involved the Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a charity that sent money it raised to individuals and groups in the West Bank and Gaza for what the HLF says were humanitarian purposes and what the government alleges was assistance to Hamas. The HLF trial raised a number of difficult legal issues involving Middle Eastern politics, witnesses from other countries, American anti-terrorism laws and more than a decade worth of transcripts of conversations in multiple languages that were recorded by the U.S. government. [ See "HLF Defendants Seek Translation and Declassification of Materials," Texas Lawyer, Oct. 9, 2006, page 6.] The government’s battle with HLF and the five individual defendants began in December 2001, a few weeks after Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT Act, which grants the U.S. Treasury Department authority to designate terrorist groups. The federal agency at that time froze the HLF’s assets. The HLF responded by filing a motion in Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development v. John Ashcroft, et al. seeking a temporary injunction to return its assets. But in an August 2002, 58-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia denied the HLF’s request. Nearly two years later, in July 2004, the office of Richard Roper, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, presented evidence regarding the HLF to a federal grand jury in Dallas, which indicted the HLF and seven men who had worked in different capacities for the charity. [ See "Indictment Triggers Scramble to Find Counsel for HLF Defendants," Texas Lawyer, Aug. 2, 2004, page 1.] In a 42-count superseding indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court in Dallas in November 2005, federal prosecutors allege that, over a six-year period, the defendants funneled at least $12.4 million to Hamas, a Palestinian group that the U.S. government has designated as a terrorist organization — allegations the defendants deny. The prosecutors allege in the superseding indictment that the HLF appeared benevolent but that the HLF funds given to zakat committees in the West Bank and Gaza � zakat is an Arabic word that means the religious obligation to give alms � allowed Hamas operatives to use other funds for terrorist-related purposes. Prosecutors further allege that the HLF funds sometimes were earmarked for terrorists’ family members and survivors, furthering Hamas’ goals. The HLF defendants have repeatedly stated in their pleadings and during the trial that their giving was for humanitarian purposes and the committees were not controlled by Hamas. Defendants Abu Baker, Elashi, El-Mezain, Abdulqader, Odeh, Haitham Maghawri and Akram Mishal were charged with engaging in prohibited financial transactions with a specially designated terrorist, money laundering and conspiracy. Abu Baker, the HLF’s former executive director, and Elashi, its former chairman, also faced charges that they filed false income tax returns. On July 24, Fish, who is presiding over the trial, granted the government’s request to dismiss six of the counts in the superseding indictment related to specific alleged transactions of providing funds to specially designated terrorists and money laundering. Five of the individual defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. Maghawri and Mishal are fugitives. Joshua Dratel, a New York criminal-defense solo, represents El-Mezain, the original chairman of the charity. John Boyd and Nancy Hollander, partners in Freedman Boyd Daniels Hollander Goldberg & Ives in Albuquerque, N.M., represent Abu Baker. Linda Moreno, a criminal-defense lawyer in Tampa, Fla., and John Cline, a partner in the San Francisco office of Jones Day, represent Elashi. The Texas lawyers at the trial were Marlo Caddedu, a Dallas solo who represents Abdulqader, a fundraiser for HLF and a former city of Dallas public works supervisor, and Greg Westfall, a partner in Fort Worth’s Westfall Platt & Cutrer who represents Odeh, a New Jersey representative for HLF. Jacks leads the four-lawyer prosecution team, which includes Barry Jonas, a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Counter-Terrorism Section; Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Garrett; and Elizabeth J. Shapiro of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Division in Washington, D.C. In his closing argument, Jonas told jurors that the HLF sent a message to its supporters: We are Hamas. But, at the same time, Jonas alleged HLF leaders tried to conceal that connection from reporters. In his closing arguments, Dratel, representing El-Mezain, told jurors the government was giving one piece of a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, distorting the picture. Specifically, Dratel said during his closing argument that even though the government wiretapped his client’s conversations for a decade, it found nothing incriminating. Caddedu, who represents Abdulqader, pointed out in her closing argument that among the piles of documents submitted as evidence in the case, only 11 named her client. Despite the government’s claim that Abdulqader was a “top fundraiser” for HLF, Caddedu told the jurors even the prosecutor’s own witness, an accountant for HLF, said that Abdulqader was only an “average fundraiser.” While the jury was out, one juror refused to deliberate causing the judge to replace that juror with an alternate. Then, after the jury foreman reported that another juror was refusing to deliberate and the panel was deadlocked, the judge read the jurors instructions reminding them of their duty to deliberate even though he could not compel them to reach a unanimous verdict. Related stories: Judge Instructs Jury in Holy Land Foundation Trial Sept. 19, 2007 Court Blocks Plaintiffs Trying to Collect Judgment From HLF July 30, 2007 Holy Land Foundation Trial Underway in Dallas July 25, 2007 Israeli Defense Forces Witness Can Shield Identity in HLF Case July 16, 2007 Extension Sought in HLF Case Due to Vacancies at U.S. Attorney’s Office Feb. 7, 2007 HLF Defendants Seek Translation and Declassification of Materials Oct. 9, 2006 HLF Defendants Seek Translation and Declassification of Materials Aug. 2, 2004 Lawyers Say Terrorist Label Translates Into Unpaid Legal Bills Sept. 23, 2002

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