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As US Says Ban Public From Judge Engelmayer Courtroom Inner City Press Files Opposition

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
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SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 9 – For the nearly concluded trial of accused CIA leaker Joshua Schulte, US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman asked to have the public and press excluded from the courtroom during the testimony of several witnesses.

In that case District Judge Paul A. Crotty scheduled a public hearing on Berman's request, held on January 27 before the trial scheduled to began February 3. Inner City Press was and has been there for both.   

  But now dated March 6 and only made available of the weekend is a request by Assistant US Attorney Daniel H. Wolf the same office, asked Judge Paul A. Engelmayer to close his courtroom for another impending trial - with no proposal of a public hearing or any opportunity to be heard by the Press or public. Inner City Press as it did before Judge Crotty is opposing this closure.

  Here's from the request, by AUSAs Daniel Wolf, Maurene Comey and others: "Dear Judge Engelmayer: The Government writes to respectfully request that the Court: (1) close the courtroom to the general public for the limited period during which an undercover officer (the “UC”) who participated in purchasing cocaine and crack cocaine from the defendant, Carl Andrews, will testify; (2) allow the UC to testify without using his real name, instead using a pseudonym; and (3) prohibit the use of all non-official recording and photographic devices and methods, including sketching, during the UC’s testimony.1 Further, as part of this request and consistent with governing case law, the Government proposes taking steps to mitigate any possible prejudice to the defendant and the public. First, the Government will work with the court reporter’s office to ensure that a transcript of the UC’s testimony is made available to the public within 24 hours of the UC’s testimony. Second, in addition to the defendant himself, the Government does not object to the defendant’s immediate family members being present in the courtroom during the UC’s testimony. Third, the Government would arrange for a live audio feed of the UC’s testimony to another courtroom in the courthouse, which would be open to the public. A proposed order is attached as Exhibit A. The Government has conferred with defense counsel about this request, and the defendant does not object to the Government’s request."

  But the defense is not the only interest implicated by the request. So, this immediate opposition, to Judge Engelmayer's Chamber (as was done with Judge Crotty in the Schulte case) and cc AUSA Daniel Wolf:

"Re: Press Access to US v. Andrews, 19 Cr. 131, including actual same day access to transcripts and exhibits, and press access to the courtroom Dear Judge Engelmayer:    This concerns the request of the US Attorney's Office to "partially" close your courtroom to the press and public in the above-caption case. The request was dated March 6, but Inner City Press only became aware of the request this morning, and immediately opposes it in the same fashion - email to Chambers and deputy to be filed inthe docket and on ECF - as it did in January 2020 to your colleague Judge Paul A. Crotty on a near-similar request by the USAO. 

This timely opposition is filed on behalf ofInner City Press and in my personal capacity. The  access restrictions are unacceptable, and go beyond those requested even in the Central Intelligence Agency trial before Judge Crotty, US v. Schulte, 17 Cr. 548 (PAC).   In that case, the AUSO proposed allowing thepress into the courtroom during the closure, and provided for a continuous live video feed of the proceedings, with camera turned away for certain witnesses,allow for live tweeting of the proceeding as Inner City Press has done. The AUSO also provided exhibits, and in some cases transcripts, in an online file for the press.     Here, AUSA Wolf's letter does not propose any press access to the courtroom during the proposed "partial" closures.Live tweeting would not, apparently, be possible of any portion of the proceedings(see, e.g., your case US v. Jones." 18-cr-834, at #364, pg 23 (October 17,2019). In that case, Inner City Press' live-tweeting drew an "incident report" a copy of which I have yet to see.) This hinders reporting. Given that and the simultaneous US v. Nejad and US v. Schulte, see above, provisions must be made for live-tweeting of this proceeding.

   AUSA Wolf said the public would have the transcripts the night after proceedings - but how? For hundreds of dollars? That is not access. He does not mention access to exhibits, as Inner City Press advocated for and has largely obtained in US v. Schulte, see e.g. its filings in the docket, viewable free (not 10 cents a page) on and 

  The U.S.Supreme Court has recognized that reporting by the news media allows members ofthe public to monitor the criminal justice system without attending proceedings in person. Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v Virginia, 448 U.S. at 572-73  (1980). By attending and reporting on court proceedings, members of the press "function[] as surrogates for the public." Id. at 573.We ask that this be placed in the ECF docket and that these issues be addressed by Your Honor before the trial begins." Watch this site.



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