November 17, 2017

ABA Legal Fact Check explores the laws determining where NYC terrorist defendant should be tried

CHICAGO, Nov. 17, 2017 — The American Bar Association updated its web-based ABA Legal Fact Check today with an examination of who has the final say in determining whether non-citizen domestic terrorists are tried in military tribunals or in civilian courts.

Sayfullo Saipov, a non-citizen in the U.S., has admitted, according to news reports, that he drove a truck killing eight people down a bike path on Oct. 31 in New York City. U.S. Sen. John McCain, among others, have called for a military tribunal to consider charges. But the Trump administration has filed charges in federal court in New York.

Prior to 9/11, no military tribunals for non-citizen domestic terrorists had been convened since World War II. In 1942, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proclamation that effectively detained, without civilian trial, eight captured Germans who had entered the U.S. on submarines on a sabotage mission. The high court determined the Germans were not entitled to habeas corpus proceedings to challenge their detention and found they “shall be subject to the law of war and to the jurisdiction of military tribunals.” After 9/11, several laws were enacted relating to military tribunals for foreigners accused of domestic terrorism, and the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important decision in 2006.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the public find dependable answers and explanations to swirling and sometimes confusing legal questions. The URL for the new site is Follow us on twitter @ABAFactCheck.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews