“I make the finding that the purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory, and it’s retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book and to discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media and with others,” Hellerstein said in a scathing ruling issued Thursday morning. “In 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people and looking at the terms and conditions of supervised release, I have never seen such a clause.”The judge also made quick work of Cohen’s lawyer fighting for various conditions:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Rovner argued that Cohen’s lawyer Jeffrey Levine tried to haggle with the probation officer on his requirement that Cohen wear an ankle monitor, saying it was a condition reserved for “violent” convicts. There was nothing wrong with Levine trying to negotiate for his client, the judge said, and the attempt to debate the terms should not have been cause to imprison him.
“What’s an attorney for if he is not going to negotiate an agreement with his client?” the judge said.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on whether prosecutors intend to appeal.
Danya Perry, one of Cohen’s attorneys, called the ruling a victory for the First Amendment. “This principle transcends politics and we are gratified that the rule of law prevails,” Perry said.
Cohen’s legal team also includes lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union.