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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 2, 2008

'Millennium Bomber' trial judge, UI alumnus to speak at law school

John Coughenour, a University of Iowa law alumnus and U.S. District Court judge who presided over the trial of "Millennium Bomber" Ahmed Ressam, will discuss America's legal system in the war on terror when he speaks at the UI College of Law on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Coughenour's lecture, "Judicial Security after 9/11," begins at 3 p.m. in the Levitt Auditorium in the Boyd Law Building. Admission is free and open to the public. The lecture is the law school's 2008 James Fraser Smith Lecture.

Coughenour, a 1966 UI law graduate, was the judge in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington who sentenced Ahmed Ressam after he was convicted in 2001 of attempting to bring bomb-making materials into the country to blow up Los Angeles International Airport.

The sentencing was delayed until 2005, while counter-terrorism officials sought information from him. He cooperated only fitfully, so federal prosecutors sought a sentence of 35 years. Coughenour, however, sentenced him to only 22 years, and harshly criticized the government's use of secret military tribunals to try suspected terrorists.

Coughenour also presided over the fraud trial of 12 Montana Freemen, an anti-government group that had a months-long standoff with the FBI in 1996.

He served as judge in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington from 1981 to 2006, when he retired to senior judge status.

The lecture is part of the university's and the College of Law's commemoration of National Constitution Day.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell),