Thursday, April 30, 2020

All around good guy David Leibowitz to be nominated for Judge Moreno’s seat

I’m biased here since I’ve known him a long time, but David Leibowitz being nominated is great news for the District. He’s smart, hard-working, and well-rounded. 

He’s served as an AUSA in the SDNY (we won’t hold that against him) and in private practice as general counsel for Braman Motors. He went to U Penn for undergrad (where he roomed with former U.S. Attorney Ben Greenberg) and law school, and then got his Ph.D at the London School of Economics.

R
re here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article242390041.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

BREAKING -- Aileen Cannon nominated to District Bench in SDFLA (Fort Pierce)

From the press release:
Aileen Mercedes Cannon, of Florida, to serve as Judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Aileen Cannon is an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Ms. Cannon currently serves in the Criminal Division of the Appellate Section, where she represents the United States before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Previously, Ms. Cannon served in the Major Crimes Division, prosecuting Federal firearms, narcotics, immigration, and fraud offenses. Earlier in her career, Ms. Cannon practiced civil litigation at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP. Upon graduation from law school, Ms. Cannon served as a law clerk to Judge Steven M. Colloton on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Ms. Cannon earned her B.A. from Duke University, and her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was inducted into the Order of the Coif.

Fishy numbers at FDC-Miami

BOP is reporting that as of 04/28/2020, there are 1313 federal inmates and 335 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide.  Thirty have died.

The first female prisoner has died from coronavirus.  Her name was Andrea Bear and she was only 30.  It's a horrific story.  She had recently surrendered on a two-year sentence and was pregnant.  She had the baby while on a ventilator, and the baby survived.

Meantime, the numbers at FDC-Miami are strange.  There, we see 14 staff members who have tested positive, but no inmates.  How is that possible?  The explanation is pretty simple actually -- prisoners at FDC-Miami are not being tested.  I have heard this from numerous sources -- the clients themselves, guards, and others. 

So I call B.S. on the numbers, which local prosecutors are citing as a reason to deny release and bond.

In the good news category, go check out Don Samuel's new blog, Contemporary Legal Problems.  Don writes the 11th Circuit Handbook, that bible we all use everyday to kickstart our research.  While blog numbers are way down because of Twitter and other social media, it's nice to have such a great addition to the blogosphere!



Monday, April 27, 2020

11th Circuit tackles abortion case during COVID crisis

I missed this one last week.  Judge Jordan, joined by Martin and Rosenbaum upheld a preliminary injunction against an Alabama law that was being interpreted as prohibiting abortions during corona.

Bloomberg law summarizes the opinion here:
Alabama will remain partially blocked from imposing new restrictions on abortions in name of public health during the coronavirus pandemic, the Eleventh Circuit said.
Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris mandated the postponement of “all dental, medical, or surgical procedures” except those “necessary to treat an emergency medical condition” or “to avoid serious harm from an underlying condition or disease, or necessary as a part of a patient’s ongoing and active treatment.”
The order is currently in effect until April 30, but may be extended. A violation would be a misdemeanor.
Planned Parenthood, the Alabama Women’s Center, and other abortion providers sued, and a federal court issued a preliminary injunction. It doesn’t entirely block the state from enforcing the order against abortion providers. But it does bar the state from “failing to allow healthcare providers to consider and base their decisions as to whether to provide an abortion without delay on certain factors,” including whether a delay would cause the patient to lose her legal right to an abortion under Alabama law after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The injunction will remain in place, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit said.
“The state argues that the order is a valid exercise of its power to issue public health orders during an emergency,” the court said. “But just as constitutional rights have limits, so too does a state’s power to issue executive orders limiting such rights in times of emergency.”

Friday, April 24, 2020

Judge Goodman continues great work on COVID-19 jurisprudence

Judge Goodman puts ICE's feet to the fire in this report and recommendation to Judge Cooke.  The Miami Herald covers it here:

A Miami federal magistrate judge recommended Wednesday that U.S immigration officials “substantially” reduce detainee populations at three South Florida detention centers as COVID-19 positive cases continue to climb behind bars.

In his 69-page recommendation — which still needs to be reviewed by U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke — Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be required to prove that it is accelerating the release process for non-criminal detainees in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Those who qualify for release would be subject to detention alternatives like parole, telephone monitoring, physical check-ins or GPS monitoring through an electronic ankle bracelet.

Goodman stopped short of recommending that roughly 1,200 detainees be released from the Krome Processing Center in Miami-Dade and Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach and the Glades County detention center in Moore Haven. A lawsuit filed by immigration advocates sought an order for ICE to release as many as 90 percent of the detainees in the three facitilies. Goodman said the court does not have the authority to issue such an order.

***

“To eliminate any confusion, this [report] does not technically require ICE to actually release anyone. It requires ICE to only conduct its own, internal review in a good faith effort to cause the release of a substantial number of detainees,” Goodman added. “Thus, ICE would not be violating an order if it refused or otherwise failed to release detainees at the three centers. That hypothetical result would be horribly disappointing and extremely distressing, and it would undermine the spirit of this [order].”


Goodman said that “to encourage ICE to be reasonable and to help the court evaluate whether ICE is acting in good faith,” the agency should be required to also submit twice-weekly reports on how many of its detainees — and at which of the three centers — have no prior criminal convictions and no pending criminal charges, as well as those with criminal histories.

Goodman’s recommendation, filed in response to a lawsuit filed by immigration advocates last week seeking the immediate release of 90 percent of the detainees at the three South Florida centers, says the order he’s recommending would require ICE to immediately “make all efforts to reduce the population to 75 percent of capacity at each of the three detention centers” within two weeks, a “percentage sufficient to permit social distancing.”

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/immigration/article242206461.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

“Lori Loughlin case should be dismissed if the prosecutors cheated”

That’s the title of my latest piece in the Hill. Here’s the intro:
Putting aside whether we really want cheating on a test or lying on a resume to count as a federal crime, we can all agree that prosecutors should not be able to cheat to obtain a conviction — especially in a case about cheating.
Yet it now appears that federal prosecutors and agents in the Lori Loughlin case may not only have been cheating but then suppressing the evidence of their cheating until after they failed in trying to get her to plead guilty.Recall that Loughlin and her husband are accused of bribing coaches at the University of Southern California with $500,000 to get their two daughters admitted. The money, according to the prosecutors, would go through the mastermind of the whole affair, Rick Singer, and then to the coaches. Loughlin has said from the beginning that she never thought that her money was going directly to a coach; instead she thought she was making a donation to the school or to the athletic department, which would be entirely legal. The prosecutors openly scoffed at this defense, saying that they had recordings of Loughlin and her husband which demonstrated that they knew the money was going to bribe the coach.They did so even though there was documentary evidence that appears to back up exactly what the defense was saying.

Monday, April 20, 2020

SDNY judges doing great work on compassionate release

The latest decision, by Judge Alison Nathan, rips the absurd BOP policy of holding defendants for 14 days after release orders in “quarantine.”  The truth, of course, is that it’s not a quarantine at all and just places the defendant at further risk.  The judge — aligning herself with the majority of courts around the country — also says that exhaustion is not required.

Politico covers the opinion here:
A federal judge in New York has slammed the federal Bureau of Prisons for what she contends are “illogical” and “Kafkaesque” quarantine policies that put inmates and the community at greater risk of contracting coronavirus.

U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan, in a decision dated Sunday, excoriated federal officials over their practice of putting inmates considered or approved for early release into a pre-release quarantine before they are sent home. The period typically lasts 14 days, but the judge noted that it can be extended, potentially repeatedly, if another inmate in the same group tests positive for the virus.

Nathan delivered the stinging rebuke of the federal prisons’ policy as she ordered the immediate release of Gerard Scparta, a former New York Police Department officer who pleaded guilty last year to involvement in a Social Security disability fraud scheme.

“In these circumstances, community spread through individuals not showing symptoms is inevitable, including in units of inmates who have been approved for home confinement,” Nathan wrote. “This is an illogical and self-defeating policy that appears to be inconsistent with the directive of the Attorney General, ungrounded in science, and a danger to both Mr. Scparta and the public health of the community.”

***

“Mr. Scparta is currently stuck in the bizarre limbo of the Bureau of Prisons’ quarantine policy, which, as the Court has discussed, achieves the backward result of prolonging incarceration and increasing community spread,” she added.

SCOTUS updates

1.  The Supreme Court ruled this morning that juries must be unanimous.  You'd think this one would be unanimous from the Justices, but it was 6-3.  Alito wrote the dissent (no surprise), but Roberts and Kagan joined him on stare decisis grounds.

2.  The Court also granted cert from this 11th Circuit case (Van Buren) on the following issue:

Whether a person who is authorized to access information on a computer for certain purposes violates Section 1030(a)(2) of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act if he accesses the same information for an improper purpose.

 Judge Rosenbaum wrote the opinion (joined by Martin and visiting judge Boggs), which starts this way:

Perhaps Dudley Field Malone said it best when he opined, "One good analogy is worth three hours’ discussion."* Or in this case, 15 pages of discussion. See infra at pp. 1199–205.
 Take, for example, this case.
"[A] lawsuit before a court" is a pretty big deal to most people. But a generic "question" or "matter," in common usage, maybe not so much.
That impression may change, though, if we clarify what we mean by "question" or "matter" in a specific context by analogizing to something else. So if we say that, for our purposes, to qualify as a "question" or a "matter," the question or matter must be of the same significance or scope as "a lawsuit before a court," a person would understand that we are not talking about just any old question or matter; we are referring to only questions or matters on the same scale as "a lawsuit before a court." To use a metaphor, the analogy here is a bridge to understanding.
In this case, though, that bridge was never built. The government charged Nathan Van Buren with honest-services fraud (through bribery) for undertaking an "official act" in his capacity as a police officer, in exchange for money. At the close of the evidence, the district court instructed the jury that an "official act" is a decision or action on a "question" or "matter." But it did not inform the jury that the "question" or "matter" in this context must be comparable in scope to a lawsuit, hearing, or administrative determination. The jury convicted Van Buren.
Since the jury was not instructed with the crucial analogy limiting the definition of "question" or "matter," and because the government itself did not otherwise provide the missing bridge, we cannot be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury convicted Van Buren of the offense that Congress criminalized when it enacted the honest-services-fraud and bribery statutes. For this reason, we must vacate Van Buren’s honest-services-fraud conviction and remand for a new trial on that count. Van Buren was also charged with and convicted of computer fraud, and we affirm that conviction.

*Richard Nordquist, The Value of Analogies in Writing and Speech , ThoughtCo., https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-an-analogy-1691878 (last visited Oct. 8, 2019). Along with Clarence Darrow, Dudley Field Malone defended John Scopes in the 1925 "Scopes Trial," formally known as State v. Scopes . Scopes Trial , Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/Scopes-Trial (last visited Oct. 8, 2019) ("Scopes Trial "); Malone’s Trial Speech (Full Text) , Historical Thinking Matters, http://historicalthinkingmatters.org/scopestrial/1/sources/44/fulltext/ (last visited Oct. 8, 2019) ("Malone’s Trial Speech "). In that case, Tennessee, led by William Jennings Bryan, prosecuted Scopes for allegedly teaching evolution at a Tennessee high school. Scopes Trial . Scopes was convicted and fined $100. Scopes v. State , 154 Tenn. 105, 289 S.W. 363, 367 (1927). The Tennessee Supreme Court then vacated the judgment since Tennessee law required a jury—not a judge—to assess any fine of more than $50.00, but in Scopes’s case, the trial judge had done so. Id. The Tennessee law Scopes was accused of violating was ultimately repealed in 1967. Scopes Trial .

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Updated BOP and FDC-Miami numbers

As of 04/18/2020, there are 479 federal inmates and 305 BOP staff who have confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 nationwide.

There are 5 staff members at FDC-Miami who have tested positive.

The good news -- no clients in custody have tested positive at FDC-Miami.

The bad AND ABSURD news -- FDC-Miami has not tested one inmate!  You read that right -- none of the inmates have been tested for COVID-19.  Instead, FDC-Miami is doing taking random temperatures twice a week.  Truly unbelievable.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday news and notes

1. The Herald is doing a lot of good reporting on the awful conditions in Florida prisons and what judges and lawyers are doing to help folks.

2. Michael Cohen was released. (So was Avenatti).

3. But more needs to be done. From the Brennan Center for Justice.

4. From Professor Berman's blog, check out these numbers which are now dated:
To provide some context for these number, consider that the federal inmate population is "only" 175,000, and yet there are already 13 official COVID deaths within the federal inmate population [as of 4/13; this number is now way higher]. This is more COVID deaths than are being reported right now by the Worldometer accounting in seven distinct US states: Wyoming (population nearly 600,000), Alaska (nearly 750,000), North Dakota (nearly 800,000), South Dakota (nearly 900,000), Montana (over 1 million), Hawaii (nearly 1.5 million), and West Virginia (population nearly 1.8 million). This is also more COVID deaths than are reported right now by the Worldometer accounting in countries such as Qatar (population nearly 3 million), New Zealand (nearly 5 million), Slovakia (nearly 5.5 million) Singapore (over 5.5 million).

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Judge Goodman orders ICE to release corona numbers

Well done!

The Herald has the story here:
A federal magistrate judge in Miami has ordered U.S. immigration officials to disclose how many of its detainees and third-party contractors at three South Florida detention centers have tested positive for coronavirus.

The court order was issued Tuesday night following a Miami Herald story that revealed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not consider its contractors ICE “staff,” and that the agency said it had no obligation to include them on its website detailing how many employees at its detention centers nationwide had contracted the virus. The Herald also reported that the agency got around having to disclose that a Miami detainee was sick with COVID-19 because the detainee was technically no longer at the detention center, but rather at a hospital. All three detention centers in South Florida are operated by third-part contractors.

“That isn’t something we have to provide,” the agency said, later noting that ICE’s role isn’t to publish or discuss information about a third party.

The Herald’s reporting was cited in a federal lawsuit filed in Miami federal Court Monday seeking the release of detainees at three South Florida detention centers. As part of the case — filed by immigration advocates against ICE and the U.S. Attorney General— Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman ordered that the government file the previously undisclosed information by Friday.

As of Wednesday morning, ICE says only 21 of its employees have tested positive. However, that does not include third-party contractors that operate at least 217 of its 222 detention centers nationwide.

“The purpose of the declarations is to provide the Court with information, and the information should be comprehensive and not limited by technicalities, such as whether a guard or officer is a government employee or an employee of a third-party contractor or contracting vendor,” Goodman said in his order. “For purposes of gauging the health risk to detainees, it matters little whether a COVID-19-infected guard or officer receives a paycheck from the United States or from Akima (or some other company).”

Akima Global Services is the government contractor that operates ICE’s Krome detention center in Miami-Dade. Last week, the Herald reported that two guards had contracted the virus, and that at least 60 others had been sent home to wait for test results or to quarantine.

In the magistrate judge’s order, Goodman specified that “staff members” is not limited to actual ICE employees or employees of the United States or one of its agencies or departments.

“To the contrary, it is designed to encompass anyone and everyone who works at the three facilities — including, by way of example, employees of third party contractors who provide services and personnel to the detention centers,” he said.

He continued: “Thus, to provide one specific illustration, if a company, such as Akima, provides services or employees at the Krome detention facility, then Akima employees who work as guards (or nurses or counselors or administrative aides or any other position at the detention center) would be included in the term ‘staff members.’ This same definition applies for all three detention centers.”

Goodman told ICE that if the clarification required them to obtain information from its contractors, “then so be it. The point is, I don’t want to be on the short end of the information stick.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

News & Notes

1.   David Ovalle covers the exploding numbers of COVID+ inmates in Florida prisons, which are being grossly underreported:
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is finally acknowledging that at least two employees at the Miami Federal Detention Center have tested positive for COVID-19, according to its public coronavirus tracking website. A union official said Monday that a third officer at the Downtown Miami facility has also tested positive, and more are awaiting test results.

The official, Jose Rojas, has been openly critical of how the Bureau of Prisons has handled the coronavirus crisis. He said officers were not allowed to wear masks while on duty until April 8, and the department continues to transport inmates from facility to facility, elevating the risk of spreading the highly contagious virus.

“They’re lying about the numbers they are posting on their website,” said Rojas, the Southeast regional vice president of the corrections council of the American Federation of Government Employees. “They won’t want to make themselves look bad.”
2.  The 11th Circuit in a 2-1 decision (Newsom wrote the majority, joined by Tjoflat; dissent by Hull) ruled that the Crimes Victim Rights Act does not apply to the Jeffrey Epstein case because no criminal case was ever brought.  120 pages of decisions here.  Here's the intro to the majority:
This case, which is before us on a petition for writ of mandamus, arises out of a civil suit filed under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004. Petitioner Courtney Wild is one of more than 30 women—girls, really—who were victimized by notorious sex trafficker and child abuser Jeffrey Epstein. In her petition, Ms.Wild alleges that when federal prosecutors secretly negotiated and entered into a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein in 2007, they violated her rights under the CVRA—in particular, her rights to confer with the government’s lawyers and to be treated fairly by them.
Despite our sympathy for Ms. Wild and others like her, who suffered unspeakable horror at Epstein’s hands, only to be left in the dark—and, so it seems, affirmatively misled—by government lawyers, we find ourselves constrained to deny her petition. We hold that at least as matters currently stand—which is to say at least as the CVRA is currently written—rights under the Act do not attach until criminal proceedings have been initiated against a defendant, either by complaint, information, or indictment. Because the government never filed charges or otherwise commenced criminal proceedings against Epstein, the CVRA was never triggered. It’s not a result we like, but it’s the result we think the law requires.
 Things get a little testy.  Newsom:
Having so held, two final words.
First, regarding the dissent: Although we have endeavored along the way to meet a few of the dissent’s specific critiques, we must offer here two more global responses. As an initial matter, with respect to the dissent’s charge (Dissenting Op. at 65) that we have “dresse[d] up” what it calls a “flawed statutory analysis” with “rhetorical flourish”—well, readers can judge for themselves whose rhetoric is in fact more florid. See, e.g., id. at 61 (“So how does the Majority bail the U.S. Attorney’s Office out of its egregious CVRA violations . . . ?”); id. at 94 (“So how in the holy name of plain text . . . ?”); id. (“The Majority hacks away at the plain text with four tools.”); id. (“The Majority cherry picks the meaning of ‘case’ . . . .”); id. at 96 (“Nonsense.”); id. at 98 (“As its third tool to axe the plain text . . . .”); id. (“Do not fall for this.”); id. 106 (accusing us of ruling “by judicial fiat”); id. at 109–10 (twice accusing us of fearing crime victims more than “wealthy defendants”).

Hull:
 While the Majority laments how the national media fell short on the Jeffrey Epstein story, this case is about how the U.S. prosecutors fell short on Epstein’s evil crimes. See Maj. Op. at 6. Our criminal justice system should safeguard children from sexual exploitation by criminal predators, not re-victimize them. The Majority concludes that our Court is constrained to leave the victims “emptyhanded,” and it is up to Congress to “amend the Act to make its intent clear.” Id. at 19, 52. Not true. The empty result here is only because our Court refuses to enforce a federal statute as Congress wrote it. The CVRA is not as impotent as the Majority now rewrites it to be.
Given the undisputed facts that the U.S. Attorney’s Office completed its investigation, drafted a 53-page indictment, and negotiated for days with Epstein’s defense team, the Office egregiously violated federal law and the victims’ rights by (1) not conferring one minute with them (or their counsel) before striking the final NPA deal granting federal immunity to Epstein and his co-conspirators, (2) intentionally and unfairly concealing the NPA from the victims, as well as how the upcoming State Court plea hearing would directly affect them, and (3) affirmatively misrepresenting the status of the case to the victims after the NPA was executed. I would remand for the District Court to fashion a remedy.
For all of these reasons, I respectfully dissent from the Majority’s (1) decision that the crime victims of Epstein and his co-conspirators had no statutory rights whatsoever under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, and (2) denial of the victims’ petition in this case as a matter of law.

3. And to further yesterday's post about Zoom hearings, check out this Broward judge who says to put on a shirt and get out of bed!
“It is remarkable how many ATTORNEYS appear inappropriately on camera,” the judge wrote in the letter posted on the Weston Bar Association website. “We’ve seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming, in bedrooms with the master bed in the background, etc. One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers.

“And putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up you’re poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don’t mind, let’s treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not.”

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Hearings in the age of corona (UPDATED -- SCOTUS TO PROCEED VIA TELECONFERENCE)

UPDATE -- The Supreme Court announced Monday morning that it will proceed with its May calendar by teleconference. Order here.

So how many of you have done hearings via teleconference or video conference?  How is it going?  What are some tips/advice for doing the hearing?  Judges, what advice do you have for lawyers?

Here's an interesting information page from Texas with lots of resources for both lawyers and judges on how to do these sorts of hearings.  A snippet:
Tips for Successful Hearings
  • Dress in a soft solid color (like a black robe for judges). If a tie is worn, use a solid tie rather than one with a pattern.
  • When speaking, remember to look directly at the webcam, not at the screen.
  • Position the camera at your eye level or slightly above eye level.
  • Check the lighting. Light from a window behind you might blind the camera, making you look dark. Light above you in the center of a room might also cast shadows. Ideally, position a lamp, or sit facing a window, where light is directly on your face. Also be aware that your monitor casts light that can make you look blue.
  • Remind the participants to speak one at a time and to pause prior to speaking in case there is any audio/video lag.
  • Encourage the participants to mute themselves or mute them yourself when not speaking in order to avoid any potential background noise.
  • Only email the link to the hearing to those participating in the hearing, encourage the public to view the hearings on the court's YouTube channel. Consider using a password for the hearings.
  • Test your connection and setup with Zoom by testing your connection with a test meeting.
So far, my experience has been that federal judges are mostly doing teleconference hearings and not video hearings.  So you can still wear your pajamas and not brush your hair.

State courts are doing more video hearings from what I am hearing.  Here is a Herald article by David Ovalle on the first Zoom hearing, and a picture:



Wednesday, April 08, 2020

How about a little soap and social distancing?

Of course, that’s near impossible at the jail.  But Judge Williams has ordered the Miami-Dade jail system to do its best and fast.  From the Miami Herald:
Instead, she gave Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation until Thursday to explain, in writing, what measures are being taken to ensure the health of all inmates who suffer serious ailments including heart and lung disease, hypertension and compromised immune systems.

Also, she ordered that jailers “provide adequate spacing of six feet or more” between inmates to the “maximum extent possible” at the jail housing more than 1,800 inmates. The judge also ordered that each inmate get an “individual supply of soap, preferably liquid as recommended by the CDC,” as well as paper towels, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

Authorities across the country have been pushing people to keep away from crowds and frequently wash their hands to avoid spreading the highly contagious virus, which causes a disease that has killed thousands in the United States and largely shut down the nation’s economy.

Williams also ordered that Miami-Dade jail officers frequently wash their hands, wear masks and gloves when interacting with others — and change gloves before each time they must interact with an inmate.
WASH YOUR HANDS! I love it.

Monday, April 06, 2020

SDFLA judges are starting to grant release based on COVID-19 (yes!) UPDATED WITH 4/6 BARR MEMO

UPDATE -- AG Barr tells prosecutors he's really serious about releasing folks on bond.  Here's the 4/6 memo: “You should now consider the medical risks associated with individuals being remanded into federal custody during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with the extensive precautions we are currently taking, each time a new person is added to a jail, it presents at least some risk to the personnel who operate that facility and to the people incarcerated therein.”  AG Bill Barr instructed prosecutors that they should "consider not seeking detention to the same degree we would under normal circumstances.

I know of at least 3 cases, the most recent from today in United States v. Karl Oreste, Case no.14-20349-Scola. The order is here. Kudos to AUSA Lois Foster Steers for agreeing to this compassionate release motion and to AFPD Julie Holt for successfully pursuing the motion. Judge Scola writes a really good order, explaining how serious this issue is in our prison system.

Judge Williams also granted one, over the prosecutor’s objection in the Bart Hernandez case.  The Miami Herald covered that decision here.  It’s strange that the government objected here where there was only a few months left on the sentence and the defendant’s mom really needed the help.  Big ups to Judge Williams for granting this over objection.  Defense attorneys: Jeff Marcus, Dan Rashbaum, and Alison Green.

And here’s a lengthy and really well-reasoned order granting bond pending sentencing in United States v. Johnny Grobman by Judge Goodman.  The government not only fought against this order, but is appealing to Judge Altman.  (Full disclosure, I have been brought on as appellate counsel in the Grobman case and consulted on this motion before Magistrate Judge Goodman as well as the government appeal to Judge Altman. (Phil Reizenstein and Jackie Arango are the leads.)  So I won’t comment other than to say it would be worth your time to review Judge Goodman’s order).  

Any others?  Please send them along!

Latest SDFLA order

Here is the order referenced in the previous post.  The most important part:

All jury trials in the Southern District of Florida scheduled to begin on or after March 30, 2020, are continued until July 6, 2020. The Court may issue other Orders concerning future continuances as necessary and appropriate.

Same thing with grand juries. Prosecutors, how will you be bringing cases in the meantime? Through criminal complaints? And then preliminary hearings?

Here's a bit of good news... David Lat is home and better. He was on the Today Show:




And for another bit of zen, check this out:

Friday, April 03, 2020

All jury trials and grand jury proceedings continued until July 6 (UPDATED WITH BARR MEMO)

The court issued another corona-order today, postponing all jury trials and grand jury proceedings until July 6.  The order is not up on the website yet, but I will link to it as soon as it is.

UPDATE Friday (4/3) evening — AG Bill Barr issued this memo, urging the release of at-risk prisoners to home confinement.  Serious question to the prosecutors who read the blog — why are so many prosecutors stridently opposing the requests?

Thursday, April 02, 2020