A Battered Court

21 Jan

Most of yesterday’s proceedings in the Muzzammil Hassan murder case took place behind closed doors.  The lawyers and the accused were in chambers for hours yesterday morning, hashing out “representation” issues.  As they filed out for a lunch break, the jury had not been in the courtroom at all that day, and the lawyers indicated that they had to go back and do some research.

When they reconvened at 2, it became evident that Hassan was looking to either conduct a “hybrid” defense with his counsel, Jeremy Schwartz, acting as a legal advisor only, or in the alternative Hassan demanded that he be permitted to fire Schwartz on the spot.   Hassan claimed that no one knew the case as well as he, and that Schwartz was providing ineffective counsel; Schwartz didn’t call, didn’t visit, didn’t read his emails.  Hassan – ever the victim.

The judge denied everything, and Hassan had a temper tantrum, yelling at the judge and otherwise showing contempt for his lawyer, for the process, for the proceeding, and ultimately for his wife.

Because this trial is brought by the people to find justice for her murder.  Hassan made a mockery of that process – it was a circus that Hassan manufactured to manipulate the court, and he evidently hoped to either charm or creep out the jury.

In mid-tantrum, Hassan started packing up his stuff and asking to be taken back to the holding center, that he refused to participate in the case anymore, arguing that only he had anything to lose if he was allowed to represent himself. The most telling exchange about Hassan’s sense of self-worth?

Hassan: I’m the only one whose life is hurt.

Judge Franczyk:  Well, that’s debateable.

Judge Franczyk, loath to call a mistrial, told Hassan he could stay and be quiet, or he could go in another room and watch the proceedings via CCTV where he couldn’t disrupt things.  Hassan opted for closed-circuit monitoring of the trial – he could see everything and hear everything, but not himself be heard.

The jury was instructed to infer nothing from Hassan’s absence as they filed back in to hear testimony from a physician’s assistant who treated Aasiyah Zubair’s injuries suffered at her husband’s hands.  Zubair had claimed to have fallen off a bike, and the physician’s assistant testified that the injuries couldn’t have been suffered that way, and Zubair ultimately admitted that her husband had beaten her.  Also heard from was the Wal*Mart clerk who sold Hassan the knives he used to murder and mutilate his wife.  The transaction took place just hours before the murders, and Hassan was unrushed, cool, calm, and collected.  He tried the knives’ effectiveness out on a piece of cardboard.

The trial resumes on Monday.

(Thanks to the Buffalo News for its article, and to Laura Gray (Channel 7), Marissa Bailey (Channel 2), and Steve Cichon (WBEN) for their live Tweets.

19 Responses to “A Battered Court”

  1. Ward January 21, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    This guy is a once in a lifetime beautiful client. We’ve all had them. They get what they deserve.
    He’s just trying to game the system into delays, mistrials, appeals, and whatever his controlling, needy ego can muster. His expected shelf life in prison will be brief and Dahmer-esque, one suspects.

  2. Brian January 21, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    One not only suspects, one downright hopes.  My wife, a real sweetheart and anti-death penalty, said, “Man, this guy (if he did it) deserves the death penalty which I hate.”

  3. Mike In WNY January 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    It is better that 100 Hassan’s try to game the system rather than 1 innocent person gets sent to prison.

  4. Jon Splett January 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    @Mike- I don’t think anyone said Hassan isn’t within his rights to try and attempt to game the system.

    It just isn’t going to work and ultimately, it’s a giant waste of time and resources.

    Personally, I was kind of hoping the judge would let him go forward representing himself. There’s no possible way he’d win and the crazy shit he’d try in court would make the coverage of the trial much more entertaining.

  5. Alan Bedenko January 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    @Mike in WNY – what’s that got to do with anything? 

  6. Hank January 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    So many inmates play the system, and in many cases, it works well for them. Just this morning I found that Katie Krenwinkle (for you youngsters, on of Charlie Mansons Killer Girls) was just denied parole for another 7 years.

    She was 21 when sentenced to death (commuted to life in 72), so she’s 61 or 62 now. Most people would feel she deserves to die there.

    OTOH, I have known inmates in VA who have done time for 2 seperate murders, and committed a 3rd before life without parole got them off the street for good. What would Krenwinkle do if she was paroled? Can’t collect Social Security—she’s never worked a paying job!! Works counseling with women in prison and probably has a degree, but who’s going to pay to be counseled by a mass murderer?

    One way to fix it—USE THE DEATH PENALTY. I mean, if you can kill 50 million innocent unborn children between 1973-2010, why spend money keeping these criminals locked up?

  7. Jon Splett January 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    @Hank- Just so I’m clear on conservatism…

    Taxing people is government sponsored theft and completely abhorrent but the death penalty is government sponsored murder that is completely okay?

  8. Brian January 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Off thread, but a fetus is not an innocent child; it’s a blob.  Secondly, ask any thinking fetus if it wishes to be birthed into this kind of nation. Ask any thinking adult if it would live its useless, stupid, empty life again. Women who love CHILDREN abort their fetuses. Anyone who loves children would never demand they live through this awful life.  “The death of a child is never really to be regretted, considering how much he has escaped.”  (Thomas Hardy)

  9. Ward January 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Splett–a little cognitive dissonance there? Over-taxing citizens equals executing murderers?

    Regardless, anyone interested in the perfect “poster child” for capital punishment should do a little research on the zany capers of a gentleman named Lemuel Smith, and the laugh-a-minute times he had with a corrections officer named Donna Payant.

  10. Bbill January 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    Shorter Hank: I advocate the death penalty because I am pro-life.

  11. Becky January 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    I don’t thing the primary motive is to “game the system” and go for a mistrial.  It’s more like a total refusal to accept the word “no” and accompanying lack of control…It fits in with the rest of the evidence. 

  12. Hapklein January 22, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    This is the American Justice system at its best. We can be thankful that Judge Franczyk is presiding and using a very patient and structured process each step of the way.
    Over 20 years ago I served on a jury in a trail that Judge Franczyk was a prosecutor. I remain very impressed with his very careful way of presenting evidence and ensuring the jury understood the significance of the evidence. 
    After all the histrionics of the courtroom are finished the evidence of the case determines most of what the jury discusses. 
    In this case in the back of their minds will remain the stupid antics of Hassan and his arrogant disregard of the the propriety of the court room.
    In street lingo he is dead meat.

  13. BobbyCat January 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    I don’t care much about this trial or this man. He confessed to beheading his wife. Guilty – SLAM!

    The other prison inmates will beat him, probably to death. They have their own code of justice. I suspect that fresh fish who decapitate their wives rank just above child molesters. He is history. His only hope is isolation for life – if you can call that ‘hope’.

  14. Melania January 24, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Has anyone testified or even hypothesized that this man perhaps suffers a Narcissistic disorder. HOw can a person with such an obvious deficit be approved to represent himself?Here are some characteristics. I don’t think I need to elaborate on how these all apply to this person.
    An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges

    Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships

    A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)

    Difficulty with empathy

    Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries)

    Hypersensitivity to any sleights or imagined insults (see criticism and narcissists, narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury)

    Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt

    Haughty body language

    Flattery towards people who admire and affirm him or her

    Detesting those who do not admire him or her

    Using other people without considering the cost to them of his or her doing so

    Pretending to be more important than he or she is

    Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating his or her achievements

    Claiming to be an “expert” at most things

    Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people

    Denial of remorse and gratitude

    …kinda sounds like my ex husband too. Good thing he stopped one action short of murder.

    • Christopher Smith January 24, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      @Melania, this description also describes Chris Collins and Sarah Palin.

  15. Judah Maccabbee January 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    There it is, it took 15 posts for a Sarah Palin reference. It’s like playing “6 Degress of Kevin Bacon!”

    • Christopher Smith January 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      I know, I did it on purpose. I was gonna leave it at Chris Collins, but I said….”ahhh fuck it, lets do this.”

  16. Melania January 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Chris, I was specifically referring to the person in question in a vain attempt to stay on topic. I supposed the biggest difference with Palin and Collins is that they haven’t beheaded anyone! I do agree with you regarding Palin. I haven’t lived in Buffalo long enough to say that about Collins, but I think it’s probably likely.

  17. Hank January 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Judeo Christian religious law has always allowed the death penalty. For the rest of the heathens, isn’t it a shame abortion wasn’t legal when your momma was pregnant with you? World would have been a better place without you.

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