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In Sex Trafficking Case Stopped Amid COVID MCC Asked For Reconsideration EDNY Echo

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Thread
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SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 3 – In the sex trafficking trial of US v. Carl Andrews that Inner City Press has been reporting on despite a partially sealed courtroom and US Attorney withholding of exhibits, the defense on March 14, 2020 asked for and got a stay and then end of the trial.

The reason? Coronavirus COVID-19.

  For that re-trial one of the US Attorney's Office's witnesses is blamed for putting the jury, court staff, and the Press at risk (Inner City Press witnessed and reported on her March 12 testimony, here), see below.

On April 21, 2021, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul A. Engelmayer held a conference in the run-up to the related US v. Rivera trial, set for June. He inquired into the defendant's access to Victim-1's 3500 material, on a laptop in the MCC. Then he asked about the US v. Andrews case, moved to EDNY on venue and set for May 17, and about witnesses.

The Assistant US Attorney replied that "there will be no request for a partially sealed courtroom." That did happen, in the March 2020 trial - but now won't, in June 2021.

On April 22, this time with Rivera on the line, Judge Engelmayer held another proceeding, and Inner City Press again covered it. Rivera's counsel described an in-person meeting on the MCC's third floor - Judge Engelmayer said he'd been to that area - and asked for more time with discovery.

  Judge Engelmayer said once he gets a commitment for Rivera to have 20 years a week in the MCC law library, he'll have the laptop moved there.

  Rivera, speaking for himself, pointed out that the law library is closed after three or four in the afternoon during the weekend, and closed all weekend. Judge Engelmayer called it a good point. The trial is set for five and a half weeks.

On April 29, the MCC wrote to ask Judge Engelmayer to reconsidering his Order of that date, stating that "MCC New York would never nor wants to be in position to override the Court's orders [but] would like to accommodate and guarantee 15 hours or more per week for Republic and his counsel to meet in-person."

Judge Engelmayer said scheduling the next conference would have to work around a case he'll oversee in EDNY in Brooklyn the week of May 17. The next date could be May 19, or May 21.

 Back on November 29 Andrews counsel  detailed problems with legal calls and access to discovery in the MCC.

On November 30 Judge Engelmayer held another proceeding, and Inner City Press again covered it. Judge Engelmayer acknowledged that Andrews' case will probably be leaving the SDNY, and ordered that Defendant Justin Rivera, who was again produced late, should get three hours a day with an "air-gapped" lap top. There is also co-defendant Dwayne Conley.

 On January 18, MLK Day, Conley's lawyer has asked that he be released on bond, citing that "the MCC has imposed another lockdown, which went into effect at 12:00 am of January 16th and which will remain in effect at least until the January 20th Presidential Inauguration... Given the urgency of the current situation, I urge the court to consider this matter promptly."

On January 26, Judge Engelmayer has ordered up reports from pre-trial services: "ORDER as to Justin Rivera, Dwayne Anthony Conley: The Court has received applications for release on conditions of bail from both defendant Justin Rivera and defendant Dwayne Anthony Conley, who are scheduled to commence trial on June 1, 2021. Because Rivera came into federal custody on a writ from state custody and because Conley consented to pretrial detention, the District's Pretrial Services Office to date has not prepared a pretrial services report for either defendant. The Court would benefit from such reports, and asks that such be furnished to the Court and counsel by Monday, February 1, 2021. The Court does not invite submissions from counsel in response to these reports, but will do so if the Court determines that a response is warranted. The Court directs the Government forthwith to furnish Pretrial Services with a copy of this order."

On March 22, Judge Engelmayer held another proceeding, and Inner City Press again covered it. One of the issues involved Justin Rivera being moved out of the SHU in the MCC. His laptop with discovery on it should be transferred with him, Judge Engelmayer said. He suggested the Rivera's counsel email the MCC, copying the US Attorney's Office which should "me too it," Judge Engelmayer said. Watch this site.

  On January 4, Judge Engelmayer held a telephone conference about the new and belated files, and Inner City Press covered it. Because the US Attorney's Office maintained that the trial should still go forward on February 16, Judge Engelmayer said 3500 material would be due - and, on January 15, a letter reporting (Nejad-style) on its investigation as to how the discovery lapse came about." Watch this site.

The case is now US v. Rivera and Conley, 19-cr-131 (Engelmayer).


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