LODI (CBS13) — It is a stunning reversal by a federal judge. The conviction of a Lodi man in a high-profile 2006 terror case is now overturned.
The case against Hamid Hayat drew nationwide attention in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Now, more than a decade after his conviction, Hayat’s family is awaiting his return home.
His father Umer Hayat spoke to CBS13 Tuesday.
“I was crying this morning, then laughing, everything,” Umer Hayat said. “Justice is served today, after 14 years.”
Umer Hayat says he received the call Tuesday morning. A federal judge filed court papers declaring his son’s prison sentence now vacated over “deficient representation.”
The documents read: “…[Hayat’s attorney] Wazhma Mojaddidi failed to adequately investigate certain defenses on Hayat’s behalf and to effectively represent him on certain issues during trial.”
Hayat’s attorney had never represented a client in a criminal case, and she did not seek alibi witnesses, who have since come forward with statements a judge has ruled as facts.
“Unbelievable,” Umer Hayat said. “Because we don’t do anything. We were innocent people. We love America.”
Hayat’s father was also arrested in connection to his son’s case and spent a year in jail before charges against him resulted in a hung jury.
The 2006 federal probe into an alleged Lodi terror cell came five years after the September 11th attacks. It was the first terror case in California and dozens of federal agents descended into the community leading to the arrests of several Imams as well.
Taj Khan, then a Board Member of a Lodi mosque says the federal investigation was a painful period for his community.
“There was absolutely no Lodi terror cell,” Khan said.
Now a new twist in the terror case. While prosecutors have pushed for Hayat to stay in prison for the remainder of his sentence, the judge has overturned the ruling.
“Well, yeah I am smiling,” Umer Hayat said.
Now, this Lodi family is now preparing for a big welcome home. Prosecutors have two days to respond to the request for Hayat’s release.
The US Attorney’s office issued a statement saying it is in the process of reviewing the court ruling.