Enemy Combatant
Enemy Combatant
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  • ISBN-13: 9780440243748
  • ISBN: 0440243742
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  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group



Chapter One It was a fluke that I was in the courtroom at all. The Juan Gomez trial was sensational by any standard, but for the scandal-starved Southwest, this trial was a thrill-seeker's ambrosia, and the good folks of Arizona were dying for a taste. Phoenix Superior Courtroom Number One-B was jammed with the curious and the vengeful as the trial opened on that fateful June 5. The defendant was being prosecuted for plotting two attacks: one in Houston, which, thank God, had been thwarted in the planning stage, and the one in Denver on that terrible May morning that killed one hundred thirteen people, and injured three hundred twenty-eight more. Gomez was the biggest terrorist suspect to be tried in the U.S. since Timothy McVeigh and Zacarias Moussaoui. The only reason I got to see the trial in the first place was because Sarge, the chief court officer, had saved a seat for me. Sarge was a former Marine, and the most physically intimidating sixty-five-year-old man I knew. He had started as a court officer at around the same time my dad began his career as an A.D.A. As a child, whenever I accompanied my father to the courthouse, I would always spend a considerable amount of time staring at Sarge's terrifying but mesmerizing flattop haircut. It didn't hurt that he'd sneak me some Reese's Pieces every time he saw me. My weakness for junk food dried up around the time I became a lawyer myself, but Sarge's affection for my family never did. And he knew that on the fifth day of every Juneexcept for 1995, when my mother's appendix demanded an immediate detour to Phoenix Generalmy parents, my older brother, Dale, and I would attend whatever criminal trial was taking place at the superior courthouse. It is the one family ritual I continue to honor even after everything that happened. But more about that later. At the time of the Gomez trial, Sarge was well aware that my mom and Dale were no longer alive, so it was a real long shot that my father would have the energy to endure the wall-to-wall mob sure to make life in the wheelchair even harder than it already was. But that didn't stop the big court officer from saving a place for us anyway, just in case. And so the stage was set for my spectacular and ill-advised pratfall into the unique limelight reserved for mass murderers. I was in the third row, shoehorned between reporters from USA Today on my left and The New York Times on my right. All the big press outlets had swept into town like an Old Testament plague when it was announced that Gomez would be tried here in Phoenix. Fifty of the nearly three hundred seats in the gallery were reserved for them. They complainedhundreds of them were shut outbut they weren't the only ones clamoring for a firsthand view of terrorist justice, Arizona-style. Thousands of ordinary citizens competed for the remaining opportunities to witness what Governorand current senatorial candidateAtlee Hamilton had promised would be a demonstration of "good old-fashioned American West jurisprudence," whatever that was supposed to mean. And in a particularly opportunistic move, even for someone as publicity-hungry as Hamilton, he had pledged to attend a portion of every day of the trial. One thing that was definitely not old-fashioned, however, was the trial's television coverage. That entire aspect of the case was being managed by the new, federally run Judicial Broadcasting System. The idea was to balance the public's right to view criminal trials with the limitations of space by setting up a single camera in the courtroom. That source would then provide a live video and audio feed of the proceedings to any television network or station that requested it. And according to what I've heard, the system worked very well. Tens of millions watched as Judge Rhonda Klay presided over jury selection on that hisGaffney, Ed is the author of 'Enemy Combatant', published 2008 under ISBN 9780440243748 and ISBN 0440243742.

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