A federal appellate panel this week allowed a team of lawyers from Arnold & Porter to withdraw from representing convicted terrorist and 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
The appellate team, led by partner Justin Antonipillai, formally asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on Aug. 5 to approve their withdrawal. A three-judge panel granted the motion on Tuesday.
Antonipillai was appointed by the appellate court to represent Moussaoui on appeal on June 29, 2006. The court affirmed his client’s conviction and sentence on Jan. 4 of this year, and denied a petition for rehearing by the full court on March 2.
In his motion to withdraw as counsel, Antonipillai said he had advised Moussaoui of his right to seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices twice extended the deadline for filing a petition, with the last deadline on July 30.
“After being advised in writing of his right to seek review in the Supreme Court, Mr. Moussaoui did not authorize Counsel to file a petition for a writ of certiorari in this case,” Antonipillai told the 4th Circuit panel. “The July 30, 2010, deadline for the filing of a petition for certiorari has now expired. In this context, Counsel respectfully move to withdraw as counsel for the appellant.”
Antonipillai also asked the court to inform Moussaoui of his right to file a federal habeas petition and the deadlines associated with that filing.
Moussaoui was the first person charged in the United States in connection with the 9/11 attacks. He pleaded guilty in 2005 to six criminal conspiracy charges arising from the al Qaeda terror plot to use commercial aircraft to strike key U.S. targets. On appeal, a 4th circuit panel concluded that his trial was fair and a life sentence imposed by the jury was appropriate.
Listed with Antonipillai on the motion to withdraw were Arnold & Porter attorneys Robert McCarter, Rebecca Gordon, Joseph Meadows, Robert Schwartz, Danielle Garten and Whitney Moore. (Hat tip: scotusblog)