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After Taylor Pled To Fentanyl US Said Remand Him Because Vaccinated, Denied But Changes Coming

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 5 – The issues of COVID-19 and now the vaccine in the courts are exemplified by two recent cases Inner City Press has reported on.

  Clifford Taylor, charged with possessing a Ruger firearm in connection with selling fentanyl, was released from prison in the Spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Katherine Polk Failla.

    Judge Failla to her credit required that "the Court shall schedule a teleconference, with press and public access, within 72 hours of the Defendant's release from pretrial custody." This was held on April 24, 2020 and Inner City Press covered it.

    Taylor asked if he couldn't go out for walk. Judge Failla said, Only if it's approved in advance. For a moment she was gone, returning saying "I'm sorry I got thrown out of my own conference." Inner City Press can relate.

   Despite not being automatically allowed to go for an evening stroll, Taylor repeatedly thanked Failla for saving his life.

  Now on May 5, 2021 Taylor appeared again before Judge Failla and pleaded guilty to a lesser included offense involving fentanyl. Judge Failla set his sentencing for September 15.

 The Assistant US Attorney asked that Taylor be remanded to jail pending sentencing, arguing that COVID no longer presents an extraordinary circumstance especially for a person who, like Taylor, has been vaccinated.

  It was an ironic argument, given that only the day before a defendant was said to have waived his COVID hardship arguments by NOT getting vaccinated.

 In this case, Judge Failla declined to remand Taylor, noting that many inmates in the MCC have not been vaccinated. She noted that Taylor's lawyer's briefing replied mostly on "pre-vaccine" cases. She told Taylor to return for sentencing or face bail-jumping charges. The legal standards, however, are changing with the vaccine.

 The case is US v. Taylor, 19-cr-410 (Failla).


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