Monday, August 29, 2005

Back on-line... (UPDATED)

No air-conditioning. No hot water. No lights. But the worst part of all -- no internet access! Now that we're back on-line, there were two important stories this morning.

1. Jay Weaver reports that "The attorney representing Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela -- founder of the Cali cartel, which once supplied 80 percent of all the cocaine on U.S. streets -- wants a federal judge to let him withdraw from the case because of the great risk of accepting potentially tainted legal fees from his client. Today, Jose QuiƱon will ask U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno for permission to step aside as the Colombian's lawyer because he does not have ''sufficient comfort to proceed with the representation,'' according to court papers.
The judge is likely to assign Rodriguez Orejuela's costly defense to a court-appointed lawyer who would be paid by the U.S. government -- a right normally reserved for poor defendants who cannot afford their own lawyer." The government has really put Quinon and Judge Moreno in a pickle. Of course, the CJA panel is not meant to provide legal services to Gilberto Orejuela. But what is the lawyer or the judge to do? This case really demonstrates the power the government has to keep a presumed innocent defendant from having the lawyer of his choice.

UPDATE-- Judge Moreno let Jose Quinon off the case. See coverage here. Orejuela has until next Wednesday to find a lawyer. If not, a CJA lawyer will be appointed. Stay tuned...

2. Julie Kay reports that the new U.S. Attorney has placed a priority on prosecuting pornography. Not terrorism. Not violent crime. Not drugs. Not white collar crime. Not CHILD pornography. But consenting adult pornography. Can this really be true? Here's some highlights from the article: "When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be. Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption? The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it’s obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults. Acosta’s stated goal of prosecuting distributors of adult porn has angered federal and local law enforcement officials, as well as prosecutors in his own office. They say there are far more important issues in a high-crime area like South Florida, which is an international hub at risk for terrorism, money laundering and other dangerous activities. His own prosecutors have warned Acosta that prioritizing adult porn would reduce resources for prosecuting other crimes, including porn involving children. According to high-level sources who did not want to be identified, Acosta has assigned prosecutors porn cases over their objections."

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