Padilla filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the government denied him his right to a speedy trial. But Judge Marcia Cooke denied the motion, holding that his status as an "enemy combatant" while in military custody precluded that right. In her view, the countdown to a speedy trial starts only when the defendant becomes part of the federal criminal justice system.
Regardless of Padilla's guilt or innocence, his case is important to every freedom-loving American. Jacob Hornberger explains why in his latest essay:
José Padilla is an American citizen. Thus, this case continues to hold ominous implications for the American people, especially when Judge Cooke's ruling is considered in conjunction with the ruling of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the government's "enemy-combatant" designation for Americans as part of its "war on terrorism." That means that whatever the government has done – and continues doing to Padilla – and, for that matter, every other "enemy combatant" in its "war on terror," – it has the authority to do to all Americans.Pay close attention to this one, folks. It could very well come back to haunt us.