It doesn't seem like political pressure or security concerns will stop the trials of five suspected terrorists from taking place in New York — but the city's prejudiced residents might. The lawyers representing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the four other suspected 9/11 plotters might ask a judge to relocate the trial, according to the Times.
In past terrorism trials, attorneys have requested changes in location based on the perceived bias of jurors. Considering that in one study, 58 percent of New Yorkers said they were "personally affected" by the terrorist attacks — more than double the number at other locations — the defense might feel like their best strategy is to move the trial elsewhere. That approach didn't work in the case of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was sentenced to death by a jury in Denver after his trial was moved. But it worked for his accomplice, Terry Nichols, who escaped death sentences in Denver and in a second trial in McAlester, Oklahoma.
That said, if the attorneys representing Mohammed think their "greatest legal obligation is not to win acquittal but to save his life," they might decide "there is no better place to try to do that than in a Manhattan federal courtroom." That's because local juries in federal court cases haven't imposed the death penalty against any of the six suspects who could have faced it since the punishment was reinstated more than 20 years ago. “Not all American jury pools have the diversity and open-mindedness that New Yorkers are famous for,” said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia law professor and former federal prosecutor in Manhattan. “I suspect people elsewhere would probably be a whole lot quicker to close their ears to anything the defendants had to say.”