Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Snitching ain't easy

That's especially true when you're Scott Rothstein.  For some reason, the feds thought that he shouldn't be required to testify in an upcoming trial.  From Paula McMahon:

Christina Kitterman, one of the lawyers who formerly worked for Rothstein at his Las Olas Boulevard law firm, was charged in August with lying to some of Rothstein's investors to help keep his fraud afloat.
On Friday, a federal judge granted a request from Kitterman's defense attorney, Valentin Rodriguez, to force Rothstein to testify – as a defense witness – in her trial, which is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 6 in federal court in West Palm Beach.
"[Kitterman's] request to compel the production of Scott Rothstein at trial is granted," Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley wrote in his order.
But the judge also ruled that Kitterman will have to pay the full cost of moving Rothstein from wherever he is being held, the cost of providing security for him, his prison lodging in South Florida, and the tab for sending him back when he's done.
That happened because prosecutors seemingly were not planning to call Rothstein on their side of the case, a position they did not explain in their court filings.
"The [U.S.] Marshals Service requires a minimum of ten days' notice in order to produce the witness, and that the defendant must bear the cost, in advance, of the transportation, housing and security attendant to the witness' production," Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence LaVecchio wrote in court records.
The location where Rothstein is serving his punishment has remained top secret because prosecutors and prison officials think he could be in danger because of his cooperation against people with ties to organized crime. Though Rothstein gave a series of depositions under tight security in the federal courthouse in Miami in late 2011 and 2012, the public and reporters were forbidden from attending. Official transcripts were released later.

Yours truly was also quoted along with some other lawyers:

"The government can't just hide an exculpatory witness and ask for exorbitant amounts of money to produce her accuser so she can confront him in court," said Richard Rosenbaum, a Fort Lauderdale defense attorney who is not involved in the case.
Rosenbaum said he heard from attorneys representing other defendants accused by Rothstein that it would cost an estimated $20,000 to bring Rothstein to testify in South Florida. The U.S. Marshals Service did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Though Rothstein's allegations are documented on a transcript, Rosenbaum said Kitterman's defense can't "cross-examine the transcript."
Recent revelations in court that Rothstein was helping his soon-to-be ex-wife Kim hide and sell more than $1 million worth of jewelry – after Scott Rothstein was supposedly cooperating and coming clean with prosecutors – have inflicted further damage on Rothstein's trustworthiness as a witness and could make him helpful to the defense, Rosenbaum said.
"It shoots his credibility to pieces," Rosenbaum said of the violation of Rothstein's agreement with prosecutors to tell the truth and confess all of his crimes. "It's also great fodder for the defense when they have Scott on the witness stand … because there he is basically double-timing the prosecution."
David Oscar Markus, a criminal trial and appellate lawyer based in Miami, agreed.
"Rule No.1 of criminal law is 'never trust a rat.' When you're talking about Scott Rothstein, the rat of all rats, Rule 1 is gospel. The feds should know better, but they generally ignore Rule No. 1," Markus said.


Bob Becerra said...

I thought Rule 1 was getting paid.

Anonymous said...

How can a regulation trump Rule 17?

Anonymous said...

Is that what you tell the feds when your client is a cooperator? :-)

Anonymous said...

A rat Implies he can implicate others am broke a code of silence.

A rat does not imply he's a liar.

That's why prosecutors love when defense lawyer use the term rat.

Defense lawyer have a different connotation of the word than jurors.

Rumpole said...

This business of having the defense pay Rothstein's transportation and housing costs is ridiculous. The government has him. They've hidden him. They've assumed responsibility for him. T
his happened once to me where the government objected to my wanting to subpoena their rat. The Judge said he was inclined to decline my request. I told the judge that what would happen if my client changed his plea right now? You would colloquy him judge. Right? And in that colloquy you would say that he didn't have to plead guilty and he had certain rights like the right to compel witnesses to testify. And when you say that, do you mean it or do you really mean the right to compel witnesses so long as it doesn't upset the prosecution. To his credit, the judge smirked, turned to the government and said "what say you?" and then reversed himself and granted my motion.

It makes me crazy that we essentially need the government's permission to call a witness they have and now they are charging for it? If you don't want to pay his travel and food and lodging, put him in a prison and make him earn 29 cents an hour like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

If the case is predicated on Rothstein's testimony that the defendant made calls to investors at his behest and the recipients of the calls cannot identify the defendant, sounds as though the government will need to call Rothstein in its case in chief. Obviously the government does not want to subject Rothstein to cross exam for this case, involving one defendant and a minor player at that. I'll bet the defense attorney can get a misdemeanor plea out of the government and save her law license. Should add that Hurley probably won't allow defendant to call Rothstein because the purpose would be merely to impeach his testimony, as he can't offer any favorable testimony to defendant's case. Can't set him up to knock him down. That is a no no in federal court.

KeyWestDan said...

Typical. Are all commentators spineless wimps, posting as anonymous?

The entire game is rigged in favor of the government. They claim all your money is forfeit and then you have to settle for an incompetent federal defender. Not producing their snitch is par for the course. We all know the system is crooked. Only those with money get justice. The little guy is not important and the government could care less as they are all pigs at the trough.