Editor’s note: Karin Friedemann is a TMO columnist. Her opinions are her own.
The imprisoned Quincy, Massachusetts cabdriver from Kyrgyzstan, Khairullozhon Matanov prevailed in a motion hearing to fire his attorney on November 20, 2014. Judge Young kindly granted his request for permission to retain his former immigration attorney to represent Matanov, as he faces trial in June 2015 on charges of lying to the FBI and obstructing justice. The attorney switch went smoothly and politely between Edward Hayden, who was his court-appointed attorney, and Paul Glickman, his replacement, because Hayden agreed to step down voluntarily. Judge Young had denied an earlier request from Matanov to retain Glickman, but accepted the request upon appeal.
Glickman explained to reporters after the hearing that he was not originally appointed because he is not on the “CGA List.”
“I am on the appeals list but not the general list.”
However, pubic sympathy may have also softened the judge’s heart towards the defendant, who made headlines in October after being kicked in the head and teargassed by prison guards at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, who played the US National Anthem repeatedly and called him “Muslim terrorist.”
“Matanov has told supporters in letters that he has been beaten by corrections officers, ridiculed and harassed, and he watched another inmate attempt suicide,” reported Milton Valencia in the Boston Globe.
“Some guards were trying to say that National Anthem of USA was not played at all, thankfully some brave inmates said indeed it was played for three times. I want the video of I am getting beat up should be released for public, so this way everybody know about their crimes. Already two more people told me about their torture and I am sure once it is gonna come out, there are a lots of people whom themselves experienced such a thing, will speak up,” wrote Matanov in his most recent letter to a supporter.
Several people wrote letters to the judge asking for mercy, which ended up in his docket. Some letters mentioned that the government asked the young immigrant to become an informant in exchange for his freedom but he refused.
Matanov was suddenly moved to Wyatt, a federal prison in Central Falls, Rhode Island, shortly before he appeared in court.
Entering the courtroom, Matanov kept his eyes downcast but did not look terrified or despairing as he had appeared in previous hearings, shortly after he was arrested by a SWAT team that came to his home. Despite having no history of violence, political activism or any criminal record, he has been kept in solitary confinement since May 2013. His hair is now longer, and he appeared somewhat unkempt, with beard stubble. He looked both tired and tired of this long ordeal. His head is likely still throbbing from the concussion, which he claims has not received adequate medical attention. Matanov wore olive green prison clothes, which were thin like hospital garments.
Judge Young began by saying to Matanov: “I don’t want a discussion of what happened between Hayden and you, or the charges against you: Why don’t you want Hayden as your attorney?”
“I have been working before with Glickman. I felt more confident while working with him,” answered Matanov.
“Mr. Matanov has been a perfect gentleman during these difficult times at prison. He has been respectful and appreciative despite the circumstances. I couldn’t do anything to alleviate his conditions,” explained Hayden humbly. He called Matanov a “star client.”
Judge Young asked Hayden why there has been no progress on this case. Hayden had not filed any motions or seemingly done much of anything to prepare for trial.
“Mr. Matanov was not a problem client. This is not a complex case. It is not difficult to get ready for this case,” said Hayden. “Because of the high notoriety of this case, I had to go to Plymouth two or three times to put out fires.”
Judge Young seemed to sympathize with the defendant. “This young man has the right to a speedy trial. I am ready to give him a prompt trial.”
Young asked Glickman, who was in attendance in the courtroom, if he would take the case. Glickman agreed. He assured the judge that he has been following the case and that there would be no delay if he were to take over the job.
“There can only be one attorney,” said Judge Young to Hayden. “I do thank you for everything you have done under these unique circumstances.”
Hayden said he did not oppose the assignment of a new lawyer.
At that point the judge allowed Matanov’s motion to withdraw his attorney. “I mean no disrespect. You have been ably defending your client.”
“The Plymouth conditions are deplorable. I think it’s fair to say that he may not have been treated well. There have been three suicides. The information the client gave is not unreasonable,” Glickman told reporters after the hearing, assuring them about how prepared he was for trial and implying the lack of any behind the scenes plea deal.
Matanov is not accused of playing any role in the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombing but he had dinner with Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the night of the bombing. He faces up to 15 years for downplaying his relationship with them, after he went to the police to identify the Tsarnaev brothers when their faces came on television.
Judge Young presided over the trial of the notorious “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid in 2003.