Friday, August 21, 2009

11th Circuit update

Thanks very much to JANE MOSCOWITZ for this guest post:

Richard Strafer and Howard Srebnick had a big win in the Eleventh Circuit this week in United States v. Kaley. Judges Marcus, Wilson and Tjoflat reversed and remanded the district court's decision not to permit the Defendants to challenge the pretrial restraint of assets they wanted to use to hire their counsel of choice, Howard Srebnick and Susan Van Dusen. Judge Marcus wrote that the Court was bound by United States v. Bissell, 866 F.2d 1343 (11th Cir. 1989), which held that a defendant is only entitled to such a hearing if he meets the Barker v. Wingo balancing test. Here, clearly believing that there should have been an evidentiary hearing, the Court determined that the trial court had failed correctly to balance the Defendants’ assertion of their right to a hearing and the prejudice to them of its denial. Judge Marcus especially noted the prejudice to the Defendants of being deprived of their counsel of choice, calling that a “powerful” form and “substantial source” of prejudice. The Court sent the case back for a correct evaluation of the factors to determine whether a hearing should be held.

Judge Tjoflat concurred in a separate opinion in which he held that Bissell should not apply because its use of Barker v. Wingo was “non-binding dicta.” Judge Tjoflat did not find the return of the indictment or the submission of an ex parte affidavit sufficient to determine whether the restrain was proper. He wrote that under the standard procedural due process test of Mathews v. Eldridge, an evidentiary hearing should be held ( a proposition with which Judge Marcus agreed) and should be held pretrial. The resolution of whether assets that are to be used for the payment of counsel of choice may continue to be restrained cannot wait for determination at the trial. He noted that, if the matter is carried along till trial, the “prosecutorial incentives increase the likelihood of an erroneous deprivation in the absence of a prompt hearing. A prosecutor has everything to gain by restraining assets that ultimately may not be forfeited. By doing so, he can stack the deck in the government’s favor by crippling the defendant’s ability to afford high-quality counsel. If the prosecutor can delay judicial oversight of the restraint until trial, he also has nothing to lose, as he does not have to dedicate any extra resources to defending his decision.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Odd that all three Eleventh Circuit judges overlooked a case now pending in the Supreme Court, Alvarez. v. Smith, 129 S. Ct. ___ (cert. granted Feb. 23, 2009), which will decide the very question they disagreed about: "Should district courts apply the “speedy trial” test employed in United States v. $8,850, 461 U.S. 555 (1983) and Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972) or the three part due process analysis set forth in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976)?" Did someone forget to Shepardize?