Rasmea Odeh, supporters head back to court
Palestinian community organizer Rasmea Odeh and her supporters will travel to Detroit for the latest hearing in her ongoing fight against federal immigration fraud charges, despite the Federal Circuit Court’s announcement that the hearing will be held in the judge’s chambers and not open to the public.
The June 13th hearing comes after a federal appeals court decided in February to void Odeh’s November 2014 conviction, arguing that circuit court Judge Gershwin Drain ruled to exclude key elements of Odeh’s defense on faulty grounds.
The hearing in Judge Drain’s chambers will determine if Odeh will receive a new trial where she can present her full defense. Odeh’s legal team hopes to present the expert testimony of Dr. Mary Fabri, a psychologist specializing in survivors torture and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Judge Drain initially barred the testimony of Dr. Fabri, arguing that the nature of the charges don’t depend on intent or mental state of the accused. In their ruling, the appeals court pointed out that Dr. Fabri’s testimony bears on whether Odeh did in fact take the accused actions knowingly, and is therefore pertinent and potentially exculpatory.
In a statement inviting supporters to join them in Detroit to show support for Odeh the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) emphasized that Dr. Fabri’s testimony is “critical to the defense” and their hope is that Judge Drain will be unable to produce any new reasons to exclude the testimony and related evidence so that Odeh can not only demonstrate her innocence of the charges but testify about her torture at the hands of the Zionist occupation which forced the confession she allegedly concealed fraudulently.
The hearing will take place “in chambers,” with only Judge Drain, Odeh, and attorneys Michael Deutsch and James Fennerty present. Federal trials are open to the public, including a potential new day in court for Rasmea, but hearings and consultations with judges such as this one are traditionally open only to defendants and attorneys. Despite this, the Rasmea Defense Committee is inviting supporters to join them in front of the courthouse at 10 am and USPCN is organizing early morning transport to Detroit from Rasmea’s community base in Chicago.