Dr. Dhafir’s second appeal was heard at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City on Monday, February 4th, 2013

Here’s a report of the hearing that I sent to Dr. Dhafir on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013.  An appeals is not about innocence or guilt, it deals only with legal technicality and how the trial was conducted, and gets increasingly narrower as it goes along.  Only the court record can be challenged, and so this appeal was about a sentencing issues that had been sent back to the district court on the first appeal.

(I had sent two emails the previous day that he hadn’t received.)

I hope you get them in the end; let me know if you do as I’d like to start keeping better track of what you do and don’t get (I’ll need to think about working out a system).  I was just telling you in the emails that we were ready to go to court and that Denis Halliday, who resigned from the UN because of the sanctions, was going to meet us there: And he did.

Before your case came up we had to sit through several cases of people arguing about money: siblings arguing over inheritance and an individual suing a company for what they thought were missing funds in an annuity.  All those seemed to go on a long time and your case didn’t come up until 12.10 p.m.  We all sat through it because things can change very quickly and we could miss your case.  Normally Peter uses his 10 minutes for a 9 minute opening and 1 minute rebuttal, but because of previous experience he decided to give himself 8/2 so that he could have more time to respond to whatever Michael Olmsted [the prosecutor] had presented.  Here are the proceedings as best as I can explain from my notes:

Peter argued that the difference between A1 and A2 (I think this is sentencing for third party money laundering, or laundering money from the individuals own crime) and suggested that using the guidelines that Peter was saying were the ones that should have been used, your sentence represented and enormous upward departure (22 years).  One judge seemed not to agree with Peter’s calculation and suggested, as I understood it, that the bottom level even for the guidelines Peter was suggesting was 17 years.  Peter argued that the A1/A2 rule is simple and applied correctly to your case it would mean an enormous difference in your sentence. One of the judges commented that the top guideline for the sentencing guidelines used was 262 months and noted that Judge Mordue had sentenced you to less than this.  Peter argued that you were not a third party money launderer and that the error was not harmless in your case and that you should have a downward departure of as much as 10 years.  He cited cases that involved breaking of sanctions and said that with statistical analysis that 120 months is average and that your sentence was grossly out of proportion to other cases.  He also asked that the case be sent back to another judge. (although he might have done that in his rebuttal).  Olmsted used his 10 minutes to argue that the Cosby rule (I guess the one Peter is using) does not apply to your case and that judge mordue thought it appropriate to apply 2 points higher because of your “abuse of position of trust”.  Peter in his response strongly reiterated what he had said before, and the 20 minutes was over.

We all met outside the court and Peter told us that the court is now putting up the hearings online so we will be able to hear it again [This turns out not to be the case.].  He said that there would be no decision for several weeks or months.  He gave us a good interview for the documentary and we also got to meet Arron Frishberg, the lawyer who worked with Maher Zagha, for a while.  Two people from the National Coalition for Protection of Civil Freedoms also attended, a Ms. Sidiqqi, who said to say hello as she has been writing to you, and another young woman whose name I didn’t get.  (Unfortunately they left while we were interviewing Peter and I didn’t get a chance to invite them to lunch.)  And Bob Elmendorf from the Support Committee was there, as well as my friend Sarah, who put us up, and of course Lana, the young filmmaker.  Denis Halliday came to lunch with us and gave us a great interview in the restaurant.  He mentioned a couple of things from when he was filming with John PIlger in Iraq: while filming he and John met, by chance, a young girl that Denis had helped save by getting chemotherapy to her for childhood lukemia, and also he talked a doctor describing the conditions  she had to work under.  John Pilger gave me permission years ago to use any footage from his film, “Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq” and so we will be able to cut from Denis in our documentary and show these scenes from John Pilger’s documentary.