Last Wednesday, Judge James L. Pohl issued an amended docketing order in United States v. Mohammed et al. That order has now been unsealed, and appears to set a slightly different agenda than the one Judge Pohl had set earlier. The commission’s prior docketing order described 27 different matters, and the order in which Judge Pohl would hear each.
The amended docketing order tinkers a bit, first by altering the sequence in which motions will be considered: defendant Ali Abdul Aziz Ali’s motion to “end presumptive classification,” for example, was once sixth in the list of motions to be addressed. Now, according to Judge Pohl’s amended order, it will come third.
Interestingly, the amended docketing order also removes a key item from the schedule, one that had been included before: Judge Pohl’s instruction to the government, to show cause as to why the five defendants should not be tried separately. In response, the government had pressed for a joint trial, and sought oral argument. The five defendants made no such request, though, most likely because each explicitly declined to take any position as to separate trials. (Of the five, only Aziz Ali opposed severance initially, and he sought oral argument; but he eventually – and inexplicably – changed his mind and, like his co-accused, claimed that he did not have enough information to form a view as to whether the accused should tried separately or together.)
So that leaves us with Judge Pohl’s show cause order; the government’s response and its request for oral argument on the severance issue; and the court’s pointed refusal to hear argument about that, at least for the time being. It is anyone’s guess what this may mean: perhaps Judge Pohl has made up his mind on the severance question; he might also want to mull further, before taking up the matter at another hearing sometime off in the future.