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SDNY Judge Berman Orders Residential Treatment For Ortiz Who Says He'd Prefer Jail

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 17 – Sammy Ortiz was sentenced to 72 months in prison by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Richard M. Berman on November 4, 2014.

Judge Berman recommended that Ortiz "receive a mental health evaluation and treatment while incarcerated," as well as participate in a substance abuse program.  

On July 16, 2020 Judge Berman held a telephone proceeding with Ortiz. Inner City Press covered it.

Ortiz was and is in crisis, it seemed.

He wanted to enroll in a 28 day residential drug treatment program, but the program, called Cornerstone, required that he be taken three other mentally-related medicines.

In essence, he faces remand to jail unless he takes these medications.

  Judge Berman asked, Do you have your meds? Ortiz' answers shifted, from that the meds were lost in his bag, to that he did not want to take them.

 His lawyers, who named all three -- Inner City Press will not -- said that one in particular, her client did not want to take. 

She committed to quarterback the process of getting Ortiz into Crossroads, since Judge Berman said he will be "out of pocket" most of next week. He told Ortiz, I'd come there myself if I could.

Ortiz said, We're known each other for years and I thank you.

 That transcript is still not in the docket, where the most recent one is from April 21.

  On October 21, there was another telephone conference, with Ortiz' (and Natalie Edwards') lawyer Stephanie Carvlin. Things got heated and another conference was set.

Now on May 17, 2021, Judge Berman held another proceeding. Inner City Press called in and identified itself. As Ortiz spoke in opposition to be forced into a residential treatment program, an admonition was given not to report on health, particularly mental health, issues.

 Inner City Press generally agrees - but usually the request for confidentiality is by the defendant. In this case, without here revealing more, Ortiz repeatedly said he would prefer to simple serve and finish prison time rather than be in this ongoing "court" supervision. It is his right that is at issue here, even as Judge Berman assured that he is not about punishing Ortiz.

  This is one reason Inner City Press would err on the side of transparency rather than opacity or artibrary air-brushing of what is being done in the criminal justice system.

  Said otherwise, if a defendant is detained or ordered into a location in the name of mental or other health, the issue of not reporting it is different. Inner City Press will continue to follow and report on this case.

The case is US v. Ortiz, 13-cr-687 (Berman)


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