Tuesday, March 31, 2020

BOP to Phase 5 — full lockdown

Here’s the update from BOP:
Today, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) ordered the implementation of Phase 5 of its COVID-19 Action Plan, effective tomorrow, April 1, 2020. In response to a growing number of quarantine and isolation cases in our facilities, the BOP will take the following actions immediately to further mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19. 
  • For a 14-day period, inmates in every institution will be secured in their assigned cells/quarters to decrease the spread of the virus. This modification to our action plan is based on health concerns, not disruptive inmate behavior.
  • During this time, to the extent practicable, inmates should still have access to programs and services that are offered under normal operating procedures, such as mental health treatment and education.
  • In addition, the Bureau is coordinating with the United States Marshals Service (USMS) to significantly decrease incoming movement during this time.
  • After 14 days, this decision will be reevaluated and a decision made as to whether or not to return to modified operations.
  • Limited group gathering will be afforded to the extent practical to facilitate commissary, laundry, showers, telephone, and Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) access.
Starting in January 2020, the BOP implemented its Pandemic Influenza contingency plan, modified as an Action Plan for COVID-19. The BOP continues to revise and update its action plan in response to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in response to the latest guidance from experts at the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Monday, March 30, 2020

News & Notes

1.  Our District continues to shut down operations.  No more grand juries until April 27.  And, in general, no more in person hearings in criminal cases for 90 days. Video conferencing instead.  For pleas and sentencings, defendants can opt for continuances or video hearings.

2.   In California, Elizabeth Henriquez will proceed to her sentencing in the Varsity Blues case by video conference.

3. The 11th Circuit is in session this week, but it will be conducting oral argument by teleconference (not video). You can listen live here. I will be arguing on Friday. Should be interesting.

4. BOP suffered its first prisoner death over the weekend. Patrick Jones was 49 at FCI Oakdale in Louisiana. He had applied for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act but was denied. I wonder how prosecutors who are opposing these motions will feel when these people get sick and die in prison.

5. Okay, okay, enough with the bad news. Some good news! Former SDFLA AUSA Michael Sherwin, who has been working as Associate Deputy Attorney General on national security matters, has been named Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney in DC. It's a big deal. Congrats to one of the good guys!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Good news re David Lat!

He's off the ventilator, thank goodness!  And he's even posting on social media:
I don’t want to be presumptuous, since my condition is stable but still serious. I require 24/7 oxygen, I need a nurse’s help for even the simplest tasks, and I only just now progressed to solid foods. So I’m not out of the proverbial woods yet. A number of patients released from the hospital after seemingly successful fights with #Covid19 aka #coronavirus have been readmitted (and some of these patients have even died).
At the same time, I do have some good news to share (especially since a bunch of “fake news” websites in the Philippines have issued reports of my death - greatly exaggerated, I can assure you).
First, I was just transferred out of the ICU - to a floor that’s not nearly as nice, but the transfer bodes well because they save ICU beds for the sickest patients. Second, I’m doing worlds better than I was this time last time last week, when I was unconscious and intubated, having a machine breathe for me because I couldn’t do so myself.
I also don’t want to be ungrateful. And no matter how my story ends, I know that I will be forever thankful for all of the prayers and thoughts that you have sent me and my family over the past few weeks. I will also be eternally grateful to all the wonderful doctors, nurses, and other dedicated healthcare professionals who are on the front lines of our battle with #Covid19 aka #Coronavirus, here at NYU Langone Health and elsewhere.
As mentioned earlier, I’m not out of the woods yet. But I’m upbeat and optimistic, strengthened by all your thoughts, prayers, and wishes for a speedy recovery.
Much as my parents love looking after Harlan - grandparents are the babysitters who thank YOU at the end of the experience - I look forward to checking out of here before too long and being reunited with Harlan, Zach, my family, my-in-laws, and all of you, my dear friends and loved ones. Thank you once again for everything, and see you soon!
With Much Love,
What a great update. Here's to a speedy recovery!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

“Before filing this response, though, defense counsel may want to brush up on the concepts or karma, goodwill, grace, compassion, equity, charity, flexibility, respect, spirituality, selflessness, kindness, public spirit, social conscience, and empathy.”

That was Magistrate Judge Goodman in an order where he rightfully could not understand a lawyer opposing a motion for extension of time and for a continuance.  The whole order is below.  Judge Goodman has issued a number of good orders this week, urging lawyers to be kind hearted during this time.  Unfortunately, for many lawyers, that’s simply not possible.

Even AG Bill Barr issued a memo today saying judges should release non-violent offenders from prisons and place them on home confinement.  Come on judges.  Let’s do this.  Let’s be leaders on this issue and release prisoners who are non-dangerous.
PAPERLESS ORDER re [47] MOTION for Extension of Time to Mediate MOTION for Extension of Time to Conduct Discovery re [46] Scheduling Order,, filed by …..
Given the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is hardly surprising that Plaintiff filed [ECF No. 47] a motion to extend the mediation and discovery deadlines and all related deadlines and to reschedule the special set trial date.
Plaintiff's motion represents that Defendant objected to the request. That's right. Defendant objected to what appears to be a realistic and common sense motion to reschedule the trial and other deadlines. I had to read the certification twice in order to make sure that I was reading it correctly. 
If the motion is correct, then Defendant wants to push forward with the existing trial date and all trial-related deadlines even though no one has any idea when the Court will be able to safely resume jury trials (or when it will be safe to travel by air, to return to work or to get closer than ten feet to anyone).
Rather than guess at defense counsel's motivation, the Undersigned requires defense counsel to by March 26, 2020 file a double-spaced memorandum explaining (1) whether he did, in fact, oppose the motion to reschedule the trial and enlarge trial-related deadlines and the mediation deadline, and (2) all the reasons justifying his opposition (assuming that he did actually advise Plaintiff's counsel that he opposes the motion).
If defense counsel opposed the motion, then he is best advised to provide a comprehensive and rational explanation. Before filing this response, though, defense counsel may want to brush up on the concepts or karma, goodwill, grace, compassion, equity, charity, flexibility, respect, spirituality, selflessness, kindness, public spirit, social conscience, and empathy.
No reply absent further Court Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman on 3/25/2020. (J

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro indicted for narco-terrorism

Big news while DOJ has been pretty quiet during the virus.

There was a virtual press conference with Barr, U.S. Attorney Berman from SDNY, and our very own U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan.  She gave a nice shout out to Michael Nadler, Michael Berger, and Peter Forand.

From the Miami Herald:
In a stunning announcement amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Justice Department plans to announce Thursday that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other government officials have been charged with turning Venezuela into a narco-state by collaborating with a leftist Colombian guerrilla group that exported tons of cocaine to the United States.

An indictment, to be unveiled at a “virtual” news conference in Washington, D.C., accuses Maduro and other top officials in his socialist regime of conspiring with the U.S.-designated terrorist group known as the FARC so that Venezuela could be used for narcotics shipments to finance a long-running civil war against the Colombian government.

Charged along with Maduro are Diosdado Cabello, a former speaker of the National Assembly who is considered the second most powerful political figure in Venezuela, and Vladimir Padrino Lopez, the country’s minister of defense. All three Venezuelan officials face allegations of narco-terrorism, drug trafficking and weapons violations in a scheme initiated in the mid-2000s that was meant to help the Colombian rebel group while enriching themselves with cocaine-tainted bribes, according to federal authorities.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The 11th Circuit is still humming along

Appellate courts should be the least impacted through all of this mess, with judges and clerks able to work on opinions from home.  And the 11th Circuit keeps cranking them out...

Earlier this week, it agreed to hear this 4th Amendment case en banc at the urging at Judge Newsom to reconsider previous decisions on abandonment.

Yesterday, Judge Jill Pryor issued a big decision finding that a Hobbs Act robbery did not constitute a crime of violence under the Guidelines.

And today, Judge Rosenbaum issued an opinion on restitution and loss, with this fun introduction:
In Robert Louis Stevenson’s  Treasure  Island,  Jim  Hawkins memorably hunted  for  Captain Flint’s hidden treasure.  The Goonies put its own spin on treasure hunting  when  the  title  band of  friends defied One-Eyed  Willy’s  maze  of  booby  traps to find his hidden treasure  and save  their  beloved neighborhood.   But  for real-life treasure-hunting  stories,  perhaps  nothing  beats  the  quests of  the  aptly named  Mel Fisher  and his company  Treasure  Salvors,  Inc. 
Fisher  and his team  specialized  in finding and salvaging shipwrecks  of Spanish  galleons  and  other  vessels  from  the  Spanish Colonial era,  off  the  coasts  of Florida  and its Keys.   As  of  the  mid-1980s,  Fisher’s operation had  recovered  treasure worth approximately  $400 million at that time.     
Among that treasure  was Gold Bar  27,  which Fisher  donated to the  Mel Fisher Maritime  Heritage  Museum  (the  “Museum”)  in Key West,  Florida.   There,  Gold Bar 27  became  iconic,  and  three  to four  million Museum  visitors  handled it over  the years. Enter  Defendant-Appellant  Jarred  Alexander  Goldman  (sometimes truth  can be  stranger  than  fiction)  and Codefendant  Richard Steven Johnson.   In  2010, Goldman  and Johnson  stole  Gold  Bar  27  from  the  Museum.   This  appeal  requires  us to consider  the  proper  standard—we  might call it  the  gold  standard—for determining,  for  purposes of  ordering  restitution  under  the  Mandatory Victims Restitution Act,  18  U.S.C.  § 3663A (“MVRA”),  the  value  of  Gold  Bar  27.     
Today we  take  this  golden opportunity to reaffirm  that in a  case  like  this  one, where the loss  is  of  a  unique artifact  for  which  market  value  cannot  fully  compensate, courts must use  replacement  cost in  determining restitution.   While  absolute precision is not required under  the  MVRA,  the  district court must  base  its  restitution order on evidence.   And  that evidence  must show  that  the  restitution  will  make  the victim  whole—nothing  more  and nothing less.   Because  the  district court,  without the  benefit  of  our  decision  today,  did  not  ascertain  replacement value  when it determined market value  was insufficient and  then  imposed restitution,  we  vacate the  restitution  order  and  remand for  valuation  that applies  the  proper  legal  barometer to  the  gold bar  here. Goldman  also challenges  the  loss  amount used  to determine  his offense  level.   But  here,  we  part  ways with Goldman’s  analysis.   
The  district court explained that it would impose  the  same  sentence,  even if  it had the  loss figure  wrong.   For  that reason  and because  the  sentence  the  district  court imposed is  not substantively unreasonable,  we  affirm  Goldman’s sentence. 
The 11th Circuit should really re-examine this practice of affirming sentences just because the district judge says that it would enter the same sentence even if reversed.  It’s simply too easy to say that, and the truth is that judges are very unlikely to sentence above the guidelines.  If there’s a reversal on the guideline calculation, of course the defendant should get a new sentencing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Update: Guilty verdicts in Broward federal healthcare trial

This is the one the blog covered earlier in the week here with Judge Cohn, defense attorney Joel Hirschhorn, and AUSAs Chris Clark/Lisa Miller.

 There were 23 counts and Sebastian Ahmed was found guilty of 18. The jury deliberated over the course of two days.

 One interesting story that I heard -- apparently Hirschhorn asked for a number of mistrials during the course of the trial because of the virus. And it was the defendant himself who objected on his own. Now that's insane. But there's no insanity defense left, sadly.

 Anyway, I think that was the last federal trial occurring in the country. It's anyone's guess when the next one will happen... not until late April at the earliest in this District.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Update on David Lat

We’re all rooting for David Lat, all around good guy and creator of the Above the Law blog.

He’s still on a ventilator.

And now, he’s receiving experimental medication, according to this Law.com article:

David Lat remains in critical condition, on a ventilator and sedated inside a Manhattan hospital, as doctors and his family wait to see over the next several days if the “very experimental” drug therapy he has been given to help him fight the coronavirus will work, said his husband on Monday afternoon.

“We won’t know for a few more days, whether he’s going to get better—whether this stuff [the drug therapy] is working or not,” said his husband of four and a half years, Zachary Baron Shemtob, in a phone interview.

“We’re hanging in there,” he said. “We’re just waiting and hoping.”

The initial sedation Lat was given early on Saturday, as he was put on a potentially life-saving ventilator because his oxygen levels had dropped, did not keep Lat from waking up on Saturday, “immediately opening his eyes, demanding a pen and paper and starting to write down questions, to get to the bottom of everything,” Shemtob said Monday.

“It was just David being David. It wasn’t that he was agitated, but, you know, he was curious and inquisitive,” Shemtob said. “He just wanted to be his inquisitive journalist self. It was shortly after being put on the ventilator.”

Here’s hoping for a speedy and full recovery.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

One SDFLA trial carries on while the rest of the justice system has shut down (TWO UPDATES)

SECOND UPDATE — here’s the court order continuing all criminal trials that haven’t started yet until after 4/27.

FIRST UPDATE — in much more serious news, fellow blogger and friend David Lat (the creator of Above the Law) tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed on a ventilator.  His condition is critical.  I know I speak for everyone when I say that we are thinking of him and his family and wish him the best and to pull through soon.  It’s just awful!

Original Post: As districts around the country issue orders postponing trials and as we await Chief Judge Moore’s order continuing all trials until after 4/27, there is one trial in Broward federal court that is pushing forward.

It’s one of the sober home (health care fraud) cases, U.S. v. Sebastian Ahmed.  The government is alleging $21 million in fraud.

Judge Cohn is presiding.

Chris Clark and Lisa Miller for the government.

Joel Hirschhorn for the defense.

The defendant is in custody.

The trial started back on February 20 and was only supposed to last 3 weeks.  On Monday, they will start week 6 of the trial!  The defendant testified for a few days last week. And the parties closed on Friday.

I understand that the defense has moved a number of times for mistrial based on the virus, but those motions have been denied. I’ve been told that Judge Cohn asked the jurors if they wanted to continue and they said yes.

The Sun-Sentinel covered opening statements back when the case started, before everyone realized how bad the virus was going to be:
“It’s one thing to have sloppy billing practices," Joel Hirschhorn, Ahmed’s defense attorney, said during opening statements. "It’s another for it to be fraud.”
The filings also allege that [the defendant’s brother, who pleaded guilty] Ali Ahmed fathered a child with a woman he met while she was seeking recovery at the treatment center and that he provided her with heroin and alcohol while she was pregnant.
“Did they turn a blind eye to unwanted and random sex?” Hirschhorn asked during opening statements.
“Yes,” the lawyer answered, before going on to argue that his client was more focused on the business and that Sebastian Ahmed "did not understand the human side” of the operation.
The Herald covered the sentencing of the brother and other co-defendants:
On Tuesday, Ali Ahmed, 38, the former operations director and co-owner of Medi MD in Davie, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $4.2 million in restitution to the bilked private health insurers.
Prosecutors urged the judge to give Ahmed almost the maximum sentence of 20 years, saying he impregnated a woman with a heroin addiction who was living in a “Serenity” sober home and plied her with the drug. When their child was born, he tested positive for heroin and other drugs.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Clark scoffed at the idea that Ahmed sought as little as five years in prison while citing his devotion to his son as a basis for leniency, highlighting that he was “providing heroin to his girlfriend who was bearing his son.”

In the end, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno recognized the “vulnerability” of the addicts who were lured to the brothers’ chain of sober homes and substance abuse facilities in Broward. But Moreno also said Ahmed pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility, qualifying him for a potential guideline sentence between 9 and 11 years. So, Moreno split the difference.

Ahmed, standing alongside his attorney, Bradley Horenstein, said: “I am very sorry for the damage I have done to my family. My son will grow up without a father because of me.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Latest update from SDFLA

Chief Judge Moore issued the following order, which in effect puts the District on "telework" except for a skeleton crew.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

We should be releasing all non-violent offenders on personal surety bonds immediately

It's amazing to me that this hasn't happened yet.  Some magistrate judges are asking for lawyers to revisit bond issues.  Below is one in the Northern District of California.  Come on judges (and prosecutors), let's be proactive and leaders on this issue.

11th Circuit procedures for oral argument week of March 30

Two choices — submit on the papers or do it by phone. The panel is Carnes, Marcus, and Luck. Here’s the email that went out this morning (I have an argument on 4/2).

Monday, March 16, 2020

Supreme Court and BOP closed, other updates

No oral arguments for the Supremes in March.

And BOP is closed for 30 days -- no visits of any kind and no movement.

As of this morning, the 11th Circuit is still planning on conducting oral arguments the week of March 30. 

District Court is still open but judges are being very good about continuing matters and trying to help. 

Friday, March 13, 2020

SDFLA cancels jury trials scheduled to begin March 16 until March 30 (UPDATED WITH ORDER)

Update -- here's a link to the order.

They won't occur until "further order of the Court."

"All trial-specific deadlines in criminal cases scheduled to begin before March 30, 2020, are continued pending further order of the Court.  Individual judges may continue trial specific deadlines in civil cases in the exercise of their discretion."

There's more to the Order, but no link yet on the Court's webpage.  As soon as there is one, I will post it.

Of note: "Judges are strongly encouraged to conduct court proceedings by telephone or video conferencing where practicable."  But criminal matters "such as initial appearances, arraignments, detention hearings, and the issuance of search warrants" before Magistrate Judges "shall continue to take place in the ordinary course."  And Grand Juries are still going forward.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Federal courts around the country have started to suspend jury trials and other hearings

The SDNY is an example.  From the NY Post:
The federal court district that covers Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester County and several other New York counties will suspend jury trials that are scheduled to begin next week in an effort to stanch the spread of coronavirus, court officials said Thursday.

The suspension comes as the Southern District of New York attempts to limit the number of people entering federal courthouses in Lower Manhattan and in Westchester County amid the outbreak, District Executive Edward Friedland said. The court suspended non-case-related activity Wednesday.
There are also issues with prison visits in that district. The Post also covers the horrible conditions at MCC in New York with Avenatti:
“Mr. Avenatti’s cell was infested with rats. The jail reeks or urine. As of yesterday, Mr. Avenatti had not shaved in weeks. Meanwhile, across the country, public officials are declaring states of emergency as a result of the spread of the coronavirus,” [Scott] Srebnick wrote.

“Health officials are uncertain of the actual risks. And, by all accounts, a prison facility poses among the highest risks of spread of infection,” he added.

“Given the uncertainty regarding the coronavirus, the ease with which it spreads, and the documented unsanitary conditions at the MCC-New York, I am requesting that the … background interview be adjourned,” he wrote.
There are lots of rumors floating around about what SDFLA is going to do and what is going to happen with FDC. (One rumor is that social and legal visits are going to be shut down for a few weeks.) Also unclear is whether the 11th Circuit will go forward with oral arguments.  As of now, everything is still a go. I will post updates as soon as I have official word.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

News & Notes (UPDATED)

UPDATED -- the 11th Circuit has canceled its judicial conference.  From Ed Carnes:

Because of the evolving threat represented by the outbreak and spread of the
Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States and in the State of Georgia, and in
view of the warnings issued by the Center for Disease Control, as well as by
Governor Kemp, I have decided to cancel the Eleventh Circuit Judicial
Conference, which had been scheduled to be held May 6 through May 9, 2020 in
Atlanta. Although circuit judicial conferences provide a good opportunity for
judges and lawyers to learn from each other and from speakers, I concluded that
the cancellation was necessary and prudent in the interest of the health of all of
those who would have attended the conference.
Given the importance of these conferences to the bench and Bar, we hope to
be able to reschedule this conference for 2021 if circumstances permit.

1. Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years. From the NY Times:
Two of Mr. Weinstein’s victims gave emotional statements about the damage he had done to them. Miriam Haley, who testified Mr. Weinstein forced oral sex on her in 2006, said he had forever altered her life, crushing her spirit.

“He violated my trust and my body and my personal right to deny sexual advances,” she said.

Given a chance to speak, Mr. Weinstein suggested in a rambling speech to the court that he thought his relationships with his victims were consensual.

“We may have different truths, but I have remorse for all of you and for all the men going through this crisis,” he said, addressing his accusers.

He added: “I really feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deeply in my heart. I’m really trying, I’m really trying to be a better person.”
2. The Herald is covering the cert petition Miladis Salgado, which the blog posted about here back in January. From the Herald:

Now, Salgado is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make her whole for the misguided May 11, 2015, raid on her home, arguing that a forfeiture law allows victims of wrongful money seizures to recover attorney’s fees in addition to their actual losses from the government. The outcome of a petition brought by the 57-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Colombia could affect thousands of people nationwide whose money is seized by federal agencies without criminal charges ever being filed against them.

“This is a game that the Justice Department plays — it’s a war of attrition,” said lawyer Justin Pearson with the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice, which is representing Salgado free of charge. “This is a cash grab by the government to take money away from people who don’t have the ability to fight back.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide in April whether to hear Salgado’s petition. After the solicitor general for the Trump administration signaled that he was not going to respond to her claim, the high court ordered his office to do so. In a recent filing, Solicitor General Noel Francisco asserts that Salgado had not “substantially prevailed” against the government, reasoning that when the feds returned her money, they did not lose the right to refile their civil forfeiture case and therefore did not owe her attorney’s fees.

3. The 11th Circuit in a 2-1 decision today said that the state prison system did not violate the rights of a transgender inmate by not treating her appropriately. This decision reversed a lengthy opinion by the district court. Newsom wrote the majority, which was joined by a visiting Alabama district judge. Judge Wilson wrote the dissent. I will summarize the opinion shortly, but it's definitely worth a read. Here's a Herald article discussing the issue of transgender inmates, including Reiyn Keohane (the inmate as issue in this case) back from December.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

SDFLA notice regarding Covid19

This notice went out from the clerk’s office yesterday:

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
If you have traveled to any of the following countries within the last 14 days:
Or if you reside with or have had close contact with someone who has
traveled to one of the above areas within the last 14 days
Or if you have been asked to self-quarantine by any hospital or health agency
Or if you have been diagnosed with, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
Please advise the Court Security Officer prior to entering the Screening Area.
If a person answers yes to any of the above questions, they shall be denied entrance to the courthouse and be given the attached sheet of paper directing them to whom they should speak.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact Angela E. Noble, Kevin Kappes or Brandy Lonchena at 305-523-5001.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

If you have been denied entrance to the courthouse: If you are represented by an attorney, please contact your attorney.
If you are a juror, please contact the
Jury Department
(305) 523-5190
For District Court matters, please contact Angela Noble, Clerk of Court
(305) 523-5001
For Bankruptcy Court matters, please contact Joe Falzone, Clerk of Court
(305) 714-1800
For Probation matters, please contact Probation
(305) 523-5331
For all other matters please contact
Angela Noble, Clerk of Court
(305) 523-5001

Sunday, March 08, 2020

You be the judge: What is an appropriate sentence for Harvey Weinstein?

The prosecutors are asking for the Court to consider 11 single-spaced pages of uncharged and unproven conduct.

The defense will be filing its memo shortly.

USA Today has this summary:

Harvey Weinstein's sentence for his conviction on two sex crimes should reflect his "lifetime of abuse" as shown at his trial and in 36 other cases of sexual harassment and assault, workplace abuse and even physically assaulting a reporter, Manhattan prosecutors said in a letter to the trial judge released Friday.

The 11-page letter from Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi was sent to Judge James Burke in advance of Weinstein's sentencing on March 11, when prosecutors are expected to make an oral statement in court about the sentence.

The trial evidence, the testimony of the six accusers who took the stand, and additional allegations outlined in the letter, Illuzzi said, "show a lifetime of abuse towards others, sexual and otherwise."

She asked the judge to "impose a sentence that reflects the seriousness of defendant's offenses, his total lack of remorse for the harm he has caused, and the need to deter him and others from engaging in further criminal conduct."

Weinstein was convicted Feb. 24 of third-degree rape and first-degree sexual assault involving two women, and was acquitted of three more serious charges. He could be sentenced to prison for a term ranging from five years to 25 years.

"As this court is well aware, in imposing what it deems to be a fair and just punishment, a sentencing court is not limited to the evidence at trial," Illuzzi wrote, citing precedent to argue that the judge has "wide discretion to consider all circumstances that shed light on a convicted person's background, history and behavior" in considering a sentence.

"Chief among the information considered at sentencing is the defendant's history of 'misconduct, whether or not it resulted in convictions,' " Illuzzi said, citing precedents in several federal cases.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Justice Roberts is fired up...

...at Sen. Schumer for his comments that Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh "have released the whirlwind and ... will pay the price." Roberts responded: "Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter."

I wonder where all of that whirlwind talk got started.  Here's Kavanaugh to the Dems during this confirmation hearing: "Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation. You sowed the wind and the country will reap the whirlwind."

Of course, Trump makes it a daily occurrence to criticize judges across the country. Trump has led the charge with attacks against the judiciary, so it's unfortunate for the Democrats that Schumer went there.  And it's too bad that the Chief decided to single out and decry this (wrong and awful) attack instead of the daily right wing attacks.  They are all wrong and need to stop.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

What's the appropriate sentence for a 22-year old austic man who stalked and taunted the families of the Parkland victims?

This is a tough one.

The sentencing guidelines were 57-71 months.  The statutory maximum for each of the 4 counts of conviction was 5 years (60 months).  The defense asked for a downward variance and a residential program to address his mental issues.  The prosecutor asked for an upward variance to 20 years! (The stat max for each count stacked on top of each other). Of course we all feel for the victims, but 20 years is more than many rapists, murderers, and terrorists get.

After a lengthy sentencing, Judge Ruiz issued a guideline sentence of 66 months.

A summary from the New York Times:
A 22-year-old California man was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison on Monday after cyberstalking and threatening to kidnap relatives of those killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., federal prosecutors said.

The man, Brandon Michael Fleury, impersonated the confessed gunman on social media for three weeks to threaten and taunt survivors of the shooting and victims’ loved ones. He was found guilty in October of three counts of cyberstalking and one count of transmitting a kidnapping threat.

Sabrina Puglisi, Mr. Fleury’s lawyer, said she was disappointed that the judge did not place Mr. Fleury in a residential treatment program, given that he has autism spectrum disorder. However, she said, she was pleased the judge’s sentence was much lower than the maximum 20 years that Mr. Fleury had faced.

“The judge made a strong argument that this type of trolling behavior on the internet is not OK, not acceptable and it won’t stand,” Ms. Puglisi said in an interview on Monday. “He wanted to send a message to deter people from doing the same.”

Monday, March 02, 2020

What will happen when FDC or other federal prisons get coronavirus?

Will the corrections officers (who are already short staffed) show up to work?
Will prisoners be locked in their rooms 24-7?
Are the feds ready?

The virus is already in Chinese prisons.  From the LA Times:
Prisons are an ideal environment for viral transmission, according to medical experts. Doctors recommend keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from any sick person to avoid contagion from respiratory droplets when they cough or sneeze. Confirmed cases should remain in complete isolation, with the door closed.
“You aren’t going to see bottles of Purell. You’re going to see people existing very close together, which aids transmission,” said Brandon Brown, an epidemiologist at UC Riverside.
Perhaps the closest comparison to the prison scenario would be cruise ships, he said, where large populations living in close quarters have illustrated the virus’ explosive spread. Scientists have another concern: feces. In addition to the virus surviving for hours on surfaces — handrails, elevator buttons and even exchanged business cards — researchers suspect major contagion occurs in shared bathroom settings.