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U.S. judge rejects request to exclude Jews from jury

(JTA) — A federal court judge rejected a Jewish attorney’s request to exclude Jews from a jury involving a client facing charges of lying about joining the Taliban.

Judge Eric Vitaliano of U.S. District Court in Brooklyn ruled Monday that it would be unconstitutional to bar a prospective juror because of religion, the New York Post reported.

“If any juror — regardless of race, creed, national origin, sex — can’t accept the instruction of the court … that juror doesn’t belong on the jury,” Vitaliano said, according to the newspaper.

Attorney Frederick Cohn is representing Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, who is facing federal charges for lying to the FBI about his involvement with the Taliban. Shehadeh was indicted in 2010.

Cohn said Jews on the jury would be biased automatically against his client, the New York Post reported.

“Given that there’s going to be inflammatory testimony about Jews and Zionism, I think it would be hard for Jews to cast aside any innate antipathy,” Cohn said. “The American Jewish community is heavily aligned with Israel and Zionism. Here is a guy who is a Muslim, who is opposed to those things.”

The subject of Jews on Shehadeh trial’s jury first arose in February, when Cohn told Vitaliano that he wasn’t “wild about having Jews on the jury in this case” while acknowledging his request was a “long shot.”
 

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