FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mourning William Moffitt

For over three years during my  ordeal with the US government between 2003 and 2006, I was placed in solitary confinement, having no contact visits with anyone except my attornies, Bill Moffitt and Linda Moreno.

At the end of my first meeting with Bill in the spring of 2003, after my arrest, he hugged me and said: “this is how we greet each other, brother.” He was indeed not only my attorney, but also my trusted friend and brother.

Bill Moffitt passed away on April 24 after suffering a massive stroke. He was indeed one of the best legal minds and defense attorneys this country had ever produced. His sharp intellect and passion for justice were unmatched. He was the second Black president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and an attorney who took on unpopular causes for decades, most recently defending Palestinian activists wrongly accused by the Bush administration.

I first met Bill when the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF) organized a major event at the US Capitol in February 2000. The event was convened to draw attention to the use of secret evidence by the Department of Justice in immigration courts. As president of the NCPPF, I invited and introduced Bill to address the assembly in his capacity as the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In front of an audience of over 700, including many members of Congress, he was articulate, fierce, and passionate in his defense of the constitutional right of due process.

Little did I know that in three years Bill would become my voice to the world, and along with Linda, would do everything humanly possible to defend me, not only against the bloated indictment and vicious prosecution, but also against a prejudicial and biased media. From the moment we went about facing these seemingly insurmountable tasks, Bill and Linda became family to my wife, children and me.

Bill often referred to our case as the civil rights case of the 21st century. In his opening statement to the jury, he blew up two pictures the FBI took during their searches of my house. One was a picture of my library with thousands of books on shelves. The other was a picture of a gun I owned at the time. He then told the jurors: “this is what this case is about. When the government raided Dr. Al-Arian’s house, this is what they took (books), and that’s what they’d left (the gun). This case is not about violence but about freedom of speech.”

In his closing argument, Bill Moffitt summed up the case to the jury by saying: ” I suggest to you that somewhere very close, the people who wrote those words, ‘we the people,’ are listening and observing these proceedings and wondering whether we have the courage to maintain what they set out for us; whether we will remain the beacon in the world to someone like SAMI AL-ARIAN to come here and to speak his piece.” He then added: “So, I hope as we are looked down by those people who created this great country, that in my attempt to defend SAMI AL-ARIAN and to defend those principles, along with Ms. Moreno, that they thought we gave it a good run.”

He concluded: “I have a daughter. I hope that she will live in a country where she can speak her mind and believe what she wants without fear. That’s what this case is about.” The jury surely believed strongly in Bill Moffitt’s passionate defense of the right to speak freely, as they did not return a single guilty verdict despite a six-month onslaught by the government.

After Bill and Linda negotiated a plea agreement with the government in 2006 with the
expectation of my imminent release, we made a pact to celebrate along the Mediterranean Sea. However, more than two years later, he visited me in my daughter’s apartment in a Washington suburb, where I’m currently under house arrest. We hugged and talked, reflected on the trial and laughed. He was still his old self, a maverick, who deeply cared about justice and civil rights, the constitution and empowering the voiceless.

I spoke with Linda on the day Bill passed. With teary eyes and a choking voice, she said, “It was my privilege to work with Bill. He was the very best of us in the defense bar. He will be greatly missed by anyone who cares about justice. His legacy will surely endure.”

My family and I offer our deepest condolences and prayers to Bill’s wife and daughter. They are surely proud of his rich life and many accomplishments. He has left his mark, and the legal community has lost a great champion of civil and constitutional rights. The country and the world are definitely a better place today because of Bill Moffitt. He will be missed dearly. May God rest his soul.

To send messages to Dr. Al-Arian, please write the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace and they will be forwarded to him: tampabayjustice@yahoo.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail