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SDNY Judge Failla Dismissed Indictment of Balde Now On New Indictment Grand Jury Questions

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 10 – Souleymane Balde from the MCC prison was on a video proceeding covered by Inner City Press on May 11 with U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York SDNY Judge Katharine Polk Failla.

It is something of a high profile legal battle, having come back from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

   But there is also real life: Balde coughed and Judge Failla asked if he has been tested, and if the question was OK with his defense counsel Matthew Larsen.  

   Larsen OK-ed the question then noted that the  MCC is not testing in a meaningful way. He moved on to say after US v. Rehaif, the Court may not have jurisdiction. In the alternative, that Balde's plea was ineffective.

 And on May 21, with Inner City Press again present, Judge Failla ruled. She cited the Firth and Sixth Amendments and dismissed the indictment against Balde without prejudice, and stayed her order until "the earlier of the Government filing a new complaint in this action or May 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm."

     On May 11 Assistant US Attorney Slavik told Judge Failla that while right now there is a lack of quorum for a grand jury, the US Attorney's Office expects a new or resumed grand jury quorum by "the first half of June."

On May 26, Judge Jed S. Rakoff ordered Balde released. But on June 3 the US re-indicted Balde and on June 10, after Judge Victor Marrero referred the case back to Judge Failla, Balde appeared before her to be arraigned. Inner City Press was again present and live tweeted it:

Judge Failla: Do you have the new indictment, Mr. Balde? There in your apartment?

Balde: It's on my phone, in email.

Judge Failla: Can you open it up?  How do you plead?

Balde: Not guilty.

Judge Failla: There's a motion for grand jury information. The discovery has already been produced. Let's talk about trial dates. There will be but is not yet an email protocol to schedule trials.

 Judge Failla: There will be a priority for one and two defendant trial, rather than 10 defendant trials, given social distancing. Also a priority for defendants who are detained. So some things are not in my control.

 Judge Failla: It is my understanding Mr. Balde wants a jury trial. I would be willing to do a bench trial - I was about to have one, but for a last minute settlement, on Skype. 

Balde's lawyer: He prefers a jury trial. But as you've said, there are other issues.

  These issue include a proposal to resolve some or all of Federal Defender Jennifer Willis' motion by having a conference with the grand jury clerk. Inner City Press will stay on this.

  The case is now US v. Balde, 20-cr-281 (Failla).


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