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Auburn Detention Center Still Denies Inmate Access To Video Of Abuse In SDNY Lawsuit

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 28 - In New York State's Auburn Detention Center, an inmate suing corrections officers for abuse in a previously placement is not given access to a DVD player to review discovery, and has his legal mail opened outside of his presence.

   This is what emerged on May 21, 2020 in a telephone conference before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Katherine Polk Failla. Inner City Press called in to the proceeding and when asked, identified itself, as it was identified on October 6, below.

On May 21 the municipal lawyer defending the corrections officers asked to know which reporter it was. During an in-person court proceeding this would not happen. But here is what did happen:  Anthony Casiano has sued for mistreatment in prison at the Anna M. Kross Center in East Elmhurst, New York. 

   Judge Failla politely asked Casiano when he was employed, before his porter job on 94th Street.     "I was younger then," he said.      Judge Failla quipped, We all were.  

   Casiano said that before that, he killed bedbugs off the books.  

  Judge Failla asked, And before being a bedbug specialist?     Corporation Counsel Stephanie De Angelis wanted to know where Casiano was a porter.    Judge Failla said, If you remember in the middle of the night, fill out the release and send them to her.   

 Casiano replied, I filed income tax, that one time in my life. 

   The question arose, how can Mr. Casiano, who is incarcerated, see video of incident?   

 The Corporation Counsel said, of the Auburn Detention Center, There is a DVD player there, but it is only for trainee videos.     Judge Failla told her, I wish you could see my face, to see how shocked I am. One DVD player that can't be used for discovery?  

  Corp Counsel De Angelis said, If your Honor can issue an order to Auburn Correctional Facility...   

 Judge Failla asked Casiano, Would you mind, sir?     Casiano said fine, It's something about the software. I wrote grievances. The media center has broken equipment... They denied my grievance, saying there's no law requiring them to have CD or DVD viewer. I appealed. I'm the only inmate having this problem.   

 Judge Failla asked him, Do you mind if I or my staff speak to the Auburn Correctional Facility staff?     Casiano said, Please do.     Judge Failla asked, What if Corporation Counsel Stephanie De Angelis contacts Auburn Correctional Facility?     Casiano replied, I would rather you do it, a court order, Federal Judge... They are opening my mail. And the correction officers are asking me why I'm on this call. They say, "He's an officer-suer." They don't let me out of my cell. I'm being targeted by the Department of Corrections. I was cut in my face and these officers did nothing.    Judge Failla pivoted, Ms De Angelis, it's my understanding that legal mail is not to be opened.     Corp Counsel De Angelis offered, Auburn is a state facility.   

 Casiano continued, They are supposed to open it in my presence. And put it in contraband if they need to.    Judge Failla asked, How can Mr. Casiano identify the other John Doe defendants without seeing the video? What about an extension?     The Corp Counsel said, He's looking for an additional video. There is none.   Judge Failla asked, Has the footage been over-written?  The Corp Counsel said, It is only saved if there is an incident.     Judge Failla explained, For me, if I go to the courthouse, they have to let me in. Ms. De Angelis, can you access the Law Department?   

 Ms. De Angelis replied, No.    So the case was put off until Corporation Counsel De Angelis is allowed by Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo to access her office and send the video to the defendant.

 Now in October 2020, the issue is still not solved. For the October 6 conference, "it's showing that we have Mr. Lee from Inner City Press on the line." "He is of course welcome."

Casiano explained, of the CDs, "it's registered as contraband, it's taken away from me."

  On October 21, Casiano wrote in, still awaiting "to view the discovery footage." We'll stay on this.

The case is Casiano v. Smalls, et al., 19-cv-5226 (Failla).


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