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After SDNY Courtroom Sealed To Press US Demurs On Defendant Who Pled to 10 Years

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 17 – There was a Federal criminal proceeding publicly listed on PACER at 2:30 pm on October 25, 2019 in the courtroom of Judge Denise L. Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Inner City Press went to cover it - and was immediately told to leave the courtroom. Then the door was locked.

     When US Assistant US Attorneys Maurene Comey and Christopher Clore exited some 20 minutes later, Inner City Press asked them if they knew the basis for excluding the Press. Ms. Comey shook her head.

   Some seven hours later Inner City Press reported: Maurene Comey then had only four cases before Judge Cote. On only one of the four is Christopher Clore her co-chair AUSA: the 20 defendant Bronx MacBallas case named from the initial and lead defendant, US v. Xavier Holman, 18-cr-41 (Cote).

  But Holman was already sentenced to 120 months. Keenan McFarland and Sean Jones also got 120 months. Navone Dozier got 84 month. Jafari Jones and Francisco Torres also got 84 months; Austin Morrishow got 60 months, described in a sentencing submission as "one of the gang's 'shooters.'"  So who's left?

  Not listed as "closed" are Bo Williams, 20 of 20, Deonte Morrison 15, Nathaniel Fludd 7 and Toshnelle Foster 2, who while not sentenced has a sentencing date in November.

 Of these, only Bo Williams does not have an appearance by defense lawyer, although Inner City Press on October 25 observed who his lawyer is.

Virtually every filing in 18-cr-41-DLC-20 from May through September 2019 was listed as "Sealed Document."

As Inner City Press has explained to judges, executive and prosecutors, it has full respect for any legitimate sealing and / or safety concern. But to simply order the Press out of a Federal courtroom without given a reason does not comply with the letter or spirit not only of case law but of the principles behind it. More on Patreon, here.

Jump cut to July 11, 2023, when a defendant in the Holman case showed up in the SDNY Mag court, covered daily to Inner City Press. It was Lasyah Palmer - and AUSA Clore was there, seeking detention and citing threats to his girlfriend. Judge Robert W. Lehrburger, who conducted a sealed proceeding on July 10, agreed to detention.

Jump again to October 5, 2023, when the AUSA wrote in about another co-defendant, Kevon Gaither, that he was arrested in the Bronx in connection with a robbery and faces sentencing on that on November 2.

On January 5, 2024 the AUSA wrote in again that Gaither had been sentenced to 1.5 to 3 years in state custody and is on Rikers Island, "unavailable for pick up by the Marshals until January 30."

On June 14, for co-defendant Keith Outlaw's re-sentencing on June 20, defense counsel says that the plea agreement is for ten years and that is what he is requesting.

On June 17 the US Attorney's Office wrote it that its use of an "Option A" plea agreement, which prohibits the Government from seeking an above-Guidelines sentence, was a mistake and that now it "is unable to advocate" for more than 120 months.

 This case is US v. Holman, et al., 18-cr-41 (Carter)


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