Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Dhafir Trial--Jury Selection


I have always been concerned about whether Dr. Dhafir would be able to get a fair trial or would he continue to be railroaded by the court that has denied him bail four times. When I walked into the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon for jury selection and was greeted by a sea of white faces my heart sank.

The blue red divide gripping our country is playing out in upstate NY. But instead of states we have the city of Syracuse and the county of Onondaga. To experience this first hand all you have to do is hold a peace sign in the city of Syracuse and progressively move farther away from the city center. In the city you get honks of approval by cars. As you move further out get less honks and more hand gestures of disapproval.

Statistics bear this out if you believe as I do that republicans are more disposed to war. The city has 15, 207 registered republicans and 30,887 democrats, or is about 2 to 1 democratic. But things change when you look at the county of Onondaga that has 95, 565 Republicans and 85, 886 democrats. Factor out the city and the county is 8 to 5 Republican

Some of you may think that it is an apples and oranges comparison to look at war attitudes and party affiliation and infer peoples' attitudes towards Muslims. Granted. Others may say that ones party affiliation or view on the war should not necessarily influence whether one can be an impartial juror. I hope so.

When I walked into the courtroom and saw 2 people of color in a room of 60 to 70 people I immediately thought that the city of Syracuse was underrepresented. The city is 64% white The Northern District Jury pool includes the county' of Onondaga (Population 458,301, 84.8% white), Oswego County (population 122,377 96.5%) and Madison County (population 71,069, 96.5% white). So if we take 70 people as the potential pool of jurors you should have on average 8.2 persons of color instead of 2. Clearly there could have been more people of color that I did not recognize. Secondly, there could have been a lot of white city people in the jury. Others might say that the un-representation of city people in the jury is not unusual--If that is case that would be truly sad. Some may say that it is the number of women that matters more.

The jury was selected Wednesday afternoon. Some may say that justice was served and one person of color was selected for the jury. Lets hope so

If anyone thinks that this analysis is wrong, or has more information please contact me :
One of the things that we remain concerned about is that the Judge has prevented Rafil from adequately defending himself. He has been denied the ability to use a selective prosecution defense and point out that he is the only person to be arrested for breaking the sanctions against Iraq by sending humanitarian aid. To see all the letters sent by people that similarly defied the sanctions and were not arrested:

Worse, the judge will not allow the defense to question the government's intent in arresting Rafil and raising the question of terrorism. Wow. On the day of his arrest John Ashcroft called Rafil a terrorist, as did NY governor Pataki on August 5, 2004 when two Albany Muslims were arrested and charged with terrorism. Lead prosecutor West in the Ayman Jarwan bail hearing implied that Ayman could make a dirty bomb. This injustice of not allowing Rafil to defend himself hurts him in so many ways. For example, by not allowing the defense to question the government's intent they cannot point out that the government asked Medicare to try and show that Rafil was ripping off Medicare to fund terrorism. Much more……

We are considering several actions to keep in the publics mind the injustice the judge has served Rafil by not allowing him to properly defend himself.

If you are interested in posting on this blog email me:

We hope to hear from more of you as the trial progresses.

God Bless,
Madis senner

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