A round-up of today's stories on the Mohamud case, mostly about yesterday's arraignment:
Portland Tribune (Bomb suspect pleads not guilty)
New York Times (In Terrorism Stings, Questions of Entrapment)
Wall Street Journal (Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Portland Bomb Case)
The Wall Street Journal article contains one interesting item that I didn't see in the other stories, which is that Mohamud's appointed defense attorney, Stephen Sady, asked for a pre-trial hearing to cross-examine the FBI agent who provided the affidavit supporting the arrest warrant.
Our legal system generally provides two ways of charging suspects -- either by an indictment returned by a grand jury, or by a judge's binding the suspect for trial following a preliminary hearing. In the preliminary hearing, the prosecution essentially lays out a preview of its case, and the defense gets to test the evidence through cross-examination. The defense can, but usually doesn't present any case of its own at the preliminary hearing. From the standpoint of the defense, a preliminary hearing is something of free discovery, because you get to see the prosecution's evidence without having to provide any of your own.
A grand jury proceeding, on the other hand, is completely ex parte -- it consists of the grand jurors, the prosecutor, and the individual witnesses. The target of the investigation doesn't get to be present and doesn't see any of the evidence used to obtain the indictment.
Because of the Fifth Amendment, federal criminal cases originate with an indictment. (A big exception is that many federal cases proceed by way of an information, which is an informal charging device used when the defendant has agreed to plead guilty, usually pursuant to a plea bargain.) It may be that at the time of the ratifying of the Fifth Amendment, the Framers believed that the grand jury would serve as an effective check on prosecutors, but as a former New York state supreme court judge once put it, prosecutors can get grand juries to indict a ham sandwich.
The magistrate who handled the arraignment and who denied Sady's request suggested, according to the WSJ, that he challenge the FBI's investigation through a motion to dismiss charges or to suppress evidence. I'll put up a post later with some thoughts about a motion to dismiss based on outrageous government conduct, but I'll just note here that a pure entrapment defense is basically a jury issue and hence likely not susceptible to resolution on a pre-trial motion.