MARK STEYN: The Holy Land Foundation trial made headlines for months, especially when it all ended in a mistrial. It all happened when the jury foreman first declared a unanimous verdict of acquittal, which prompted other jurors to proclaim they firmly disagreed.
And the courtroom rancor resulted in the judge declaring the whole thing a mistrial.
Now, in an exclusive interview by InvestigativeProject.org, one of the jurors speaks out about her experience behind closed doors with the jury foreman.
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KRISTINA WILLIAMS: But to me, I felt like the guilty — I always thought guilty.
It was very difficult some days. When I'd get off the jury, every night I would come home and basically cry, because I felt like every time I spoke, I would get knocked down – criticized, one way or the other, for something pertaining to the way I voted.
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STEYN: Joining us now from InvestigativeProject.org, the terrorism expert Steve Emerson.
Steve, your account makes it sound as if, essentially, one juror sympathetic to HAMAS, at least in political terms, changed the course of this trial.
STEVEN EMERSON: It certainly appears that way. And Ms. Williams' account was confirmed by several other jurors, who also recounted the fact that one juror, who was essentially pro-HAMAS, swayed everyone in the jury room: bullied them, intimidated them, harassed them, abused them, refused to allow them to see evidence. And a protocol that really is beyond anyone's imagination of what should be going on properly in a jury room.
STEYN: Now, when this was reported in the press, the line was that basically the government had bungled the investigation.
Yours is a different narrative, basically saying that, if you attempt to deal with groups subverting the interests of the United States, it's very easy for the law enforcement process not to be able to withstand that.
EMERSON: Well, in fact, you know, the one juror who spoke out, Mr. Neal, he was the only one willing to speak out. And he said the government's case was full of macaroni. And that fit in perfectly with the New York Times' desire to trash the government and claim that this was a case of racial profiling, not that they said it like that, but they basically trashed the government for this case.
The reality was much more different inside the jury room. There were jurors who wanted to convict on all accounts. Others who were much more sympathetic to the prosecution. Ultimately, that one juror bullied everyone into believing that — or into intimidating them and ultimately getting them to agree to vote on an acquittal. Even though at the time of the jury announcement, they stated to the judge that they disagreed with the jury foreman's announcement.
It was an abuse here that has never really been seen before in another case like this.
STEYN: Well, in your report it comes across as the — the kind of the inversion of whatever it was, Henry Fonda in "12 Angry" — "12 Angry Men."
But they — but isn't there some criticism of the government that's valid? I mean, clearly, 11 other people don't let themselves get swayed by one guy, no matter how persuasive he is, if the government had made a better case.
EMERSON: Well, look, the government's case was a difficult case to make. Certainly, it's the financial transactions. There are lots of Arabic names, lots of different committees in — over in the West Bank and Gaza that were hard to remember.
But when the jurors tried to see information and look at the videotapes again, look at documents again, that one juror dissuaded everyone from looking at them.
ALAN COLMES: Steve, it's Alan Colmes. You blame this all on one juror, to say because one person, he was able to sway all the other people.
And as Jonathan Turley has said, you know, the famous law professor, this trial shows the government's allegations, in the first place, were highly suspect and should probably have never brought them in the first place.
EMERSON: What are you talking about, Alan? What are you talking about? The government's case....
COLMES: Do you want me to talk slower?
EMERSON: Well, maybe you shouldn't talk, because Turley represents the...
COLMES: Well, I'll turn it over to Mark so you can have someone you agree with, and don't have to deal with someone with a different point of view, Steve, because that will make you feel better.
EMERSON: Honestly, Alan...
COLMES: The government should never have brought this case. That's what the issue is.
EMERSON: Alan, no, that's not the issue. The issue is not that the government shouldn't have brought this case. The issue is that one juror did bully the others. Why didn't you read the transcript of this one woman, Kristina...
COLMES: I read the transcript. You know Steve stop insulting — first of all, stop insulting me. You can't stand it. Every time you come on this show and you have a point of view different than me, you get very insulting. You ought to stop doing that.
EMERSON: You're the one that apologized to me last time, Alan. Because you got it wrong.
COLMES: All right, let's not get into that. I'm willing to say it, but now you're being mean-spirited.
EMERSON: Good. That's good for you.
COLMES: The fact of the matter is that the L.A. Times, as well, says this throws into question the whole Bush administration's original order to shut down the Holy Land Foundation. That's what a juror said, as well.
EMERSON: Based on — based on that one juror — who, who compared...
COLMES: One or the other — do you want to just hold up one juror as an example? I'll quote another juror...
EMERSON: A Christian...
COLMES: ... a Christian or Jewish group, they never would have brought the case in the first place.
EMERSON: Alan, you know what? The Christian and Jewish groups — there were groups. The JDL was brought up. And the fact is there were Irish groups brought up. So don't tell me it's selective prosecution.
COLMES: Of course it's selective prosecution.
EMERSON: Number two, there was one — they violated the law. They were providing money to HAMAS.
COLMES: Wait a minute. That was not — you said they violated — they were not able to prove their case. You want to select one juror, taken out of context...
EMERSON: There was a mistrial...
COLMES: ...and say that's the reason it didn't happen.
EMERSON: Are you willing to defend the behavior of one juror who basically harassed, bullied, intimidated?
COLMES: No, I'm willing to defend...
EMERSON: Are you willing to defend him?
COLMES: No, Steve, I'm willing to defend the judicial system in this country.
EMERSON: Are you telling me that's the...
COLMES: I'm willing to defend the process.
EMERSON: Fine. There's going to be a retrial, Alan.
COLMES: You don't like the process when it doesn't favor the result you want.
EMERSON: No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying let's look at what the jurors said. And the jurors themselves said that this one juror who sought out the limelight, he was the only one to speak. He fit in perfectly with the L.A. Times profile, which is that it's racial profiling. That's absolutely not the case. It was a good case to bring. And we'll see the rematch in April.
COLMES: Can't wait. Thank you very much for coming on tonight.