Oklahoma City Bombing: Criminal Defense Bar Urges Transfer of Case and Permitting Appointed Counsel to Withdraw
Washington, DC (May 2, 1995) -- To ensure justice and due process, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Gerald H. Goldstein today urged the federal court in Oklahoma City to transfer the bombing case to another jurisdiction and permit the two local attorneys appointed to represent defendant Timothy McVeigh to withdraw from the case.
"Looking objectively at the situation there, this case should be transferred out of the jurisdiction in which the tragedy occurred," Goldstein said. "Our hearts go out to the families of the victims in Oklahoma City. But the fact is that no defendant could possibly get a fair trial there. The jury pool is irreparably tainted by pervasive and profound community sentiment, which is understandable in these circumstances. Virtually no potential juror in that federal district is personally unaffected by the bombing. Trying to pick an impartial jury in Oklahoma City would needlessly prolong the proceedings and delay justice," he noted.
"Similarly, the court will surely permit the Oklahoma City lawyers appointed to represent defendant McVeigh to withdraw from the case just as soon as the court assures itself that suitable replacements can take over representation. Both attorneys lost close friends in the bombing. Forcing any lawyer from that community -- even dedicated lawyers of the highest capabilities and integrity -- to defend persons accused of this crime could poison any result arrived at in a trial. And it would probably require a new trial in the event of a guilty verdict," he said.
"Even those accused of having committed this hateful crime are entitled in our constitutional system to undistracted representation by willing and independent counsel," Goldstein said.
"In view of the inherent threats that a matter like this poses to the integrity of the criminal justice process, NACDL is carefully monitoring developments in the case," he added.