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Court Rules Against Secret Hearing

January 15, 2003|From Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. — A judge erred in holding a secret hearing in November to consider evidence against an Egyptian immigrant accused of forgery, and in excluding the suspect and his lawyer, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

After the secret hearing, Superior Court Judge Marilyn Clark doubled bail to $500,000 for Mohamed el-Atriss, accused of selling phony driver's licenses used by two Sept. 11 hijackers.

The judge had allowed Passaic County prosecutors to present witnesses in secret for fear the case involved national security. But the appeals panel found that the proper federal authorities were never asked whether national security was at stake, and ordered Clark to hold the hearing again in public by the end of the month.

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