March 15, 2006 -- While the judge in the Zacarias Moussaoui sentencing case has decided to allow the government to continue to seek the death penalty against him, the lawyer accused of prosecutorial misconduct told her mother that she "did not hear the judge's order about contacting witnesses."
Judge Leonie Brinkema said Tuesday she was frustrated by the government's mistakes in the case against the confessed al Qaeda conspirator. Despite allowing the death penalty to be pursued, she ruled out any testimony about aviation security measures, which prosecutors previously said would be half of their case.
"I don't think in the annals of criminal law there has ever been a case with this many significant problems," Brinkema said.
She also expressed her doubts about Transportation Security Administration attorney Carla J. Martin, saying that Martin told one witness sought by defense lawyers that he could not speak to them and that Martin falsely told the defense that two other witnesses were not willing to speak to them.
"I wouldn't trust anything Martin had anything to do with at this point," Brinkema said outside the jury's presence.
Long Career Hangs in Balance
It's been a tough twist for Martin, 51, who has worked on government security issues for much of her career and has been a government lawyer for 19 years.
Despite her legal experience, she has told those close to her that she "did not hear the judge's order about contacting witnesses."
Now at the TSA, Martin also served at the Federal Aviation Administration beginning in 1987 and was an FAA attorney at the 1992 Pan Am 103 trial. During that trial, she was ready to close the courtroom if testimony covered sensitive government security information.
A government official told ABC News that Martin is "passionate" about security issues to the point of being perceived as "overzealous" by some.
Martin was involved in the Moussaoui case from the start when it fell under FAA jurisdiction. When TSA took over security issues, Martin jumped to that agency from the FAA.
A former colleague of Martin's said "she probably knew the FAA witnesses that she was prepping and wanted them to do well."
Meanwhile, Martin is said to be "devastated" by the ruling in the case. ABC spoke with her mother, Jean Martin Lay, who said her daughter is "totally devastated, wiped out" and crying.
Asked if any former colleagues at the FAA were helping her daughter now, Lay said, "No, everyone is mad at her now."
ABC News' Ariane DeVogue and The Associated Press contributed to this report.