After the judge sentenced me to 155 years for my alleged $ 3,500 donation to Hezbollah, I was escorted to a holding cell outside the courtroom. There, while I was waiting for the U.S. Marshal to transfer me back to the jail, I walked from on end of the cell to the other, trying to grasp the draconian sentence that I had just received. Every time I heard footsteps in the hallway, I rushed to look through the bars to see if my attorney had come to tell me something that would assuage my distress and give my some confidence. He did not. Instead, Mr. James McLoughlin, who was my brother attorney, showed up. He walked close to me, looked into my eyes, and empathetically said, “Mohamad, I am sorry.” “Thank you,” I replied. Jim stepped one or two steps toward the courtroom then turned back toward me and said, “I really mean it. I am sorry,” and left. His words were so much needed, they alleviated some of my anxiety and assured me that some people still cared.
During my trial, I was very impressed by Jim’s competence. He would cross-examine witnesses so effectively that the truth emerged out of them despite their resistance. He would notice nuances even when the testimony was translated from Arabic and was difficult for non-Arabic speakers to see. An FBI Language Specialist in Arabic, on several occasions, could not answer Jim’s questions concerning events that had occurred in Islamic history that related to the testimony. Despite our ordeal, my brother and I would look at each other amazed by Jim’s skills. At every recess, I told my brother, “I wish I had an attorney like yours.”
Jim’s proficiency and long experience representing big corporations and winning many cases did not prevent him from being a humble person. He listened carefully to his clients’ legal suggestion, even if it was meritless. Then, he would explain the reasons the argument was invalid and professionally render his advice. Speaking to Jim like talking to a friend.
My prayers were finally answered: Jim represented me on my appeal, won my case, and reduced my sentence from 155 years to 30 years. However, he and I believe that my sentence is still unjust and disproportionate.
Notwithstanding his busy schedule and not being financially compensated for his time, Jim never hesitated to help me when I asked. He taught me the best lesson I learned in my life, which is that great people do not let race, religion, or nationality hinder their resolve to do good. Every time I encounter a prisoner who complains about his attorney’s treatment of him despite the enormous fee, I realize how blessed I am to have Jim as my attorney.
Jim and his assistant, Ms. Karen Symour, helped me tremendously and treated me kindly. I am grateful to them and forever in their debt, but I do not know how to show my appreciation to them other than to say thank you.