Professor Rotunda Comments on Moussaoui Life-Death Dispute in Sentencing Trial

In commenting on the sentencing trial of Zacharias Moussaoui,  Professor Ronald Rotunda has stated that Moussaoui had an obligation to be completely truthful with law enforcement officers once he waived the right to remain silent. Moussaoui, who has pleaded guilty to capital crimes, is at the center of a controversy over whether he can be sentenced to death in connection with his links to al-Qaeda and plans to use an aircraft as a deadly weapon. In order to secure the death penalty, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Sept. 11 attacks could have been prevented had the government received and acted upon full and complete information from Moussaoui.

Moussaoui lie spurs life-death dispute, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 4, 2006. By Matthew Barakat, Associated Press. 

"Ronald Rotunda, a law professor at George Mason University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, said that generally a suspect was obligated to be completely truthful after waiving the right to remain silent.

"Moussaoui's problem 'is that he affirmatively misled them... . He said, "I'll give you a cold trail,"' Rotunda said.

"Still, Moussaoui's defense has reason to be optimistic on this and other legal rulings during the trial, Rotunda said, asserting that the judge 'has gone out of her way to do strange things to help Moussaoui.'

"Rotunda cited Brinkema's refusal to accept Moussaoui's initial effort to plead guilty in 2002, her revocation of his right to self-representation, and her decision at one point to take the death penalty off the table as a punishment to the prosecution - a decision later reversed by an appellate court."

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