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In SDNY Sex Trafficking Trial Stay Opposed Based on Coronavirus As US Admits Special Agent Sick

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Thread
BBC - Decrypt - LightRead - Honduras - Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 14 – 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 asked for a stay of the trial.

The reason? Coronavirus COVID-19.

   One of Andrews lawyers wants the jurors polled one by one. The other says Andrews constitutional rights are being violated.
  As Inner City Press reported, Chief Judge Colleen McMahon ordered that while upcoming trials should be postponed at least through April 27, already underway trials would continue. Now this - while the US Attorney's Office Press Office did not, respond to Inner City Press' written request for the exhibit that Judge Paul A. Engelmayer ruled Inner City Press should get.

  Past 9 pm on March 14, Assistant US Attorney Daniel Wolf replied opposing any stay, acknowledging the positive test of a US Attorney's Office security officer about whom the US Attorney's Office Press Office refused to answer Inner City Press' question on March 13 - and revealing that a Special Agent has tested positive: "We respectfully submit this letter in opposition to the defendant’s application for a stay of the trial or, in the alternative, individual voir dire of the jurors regarding their view of COVID-19. The defendant seeks a stay of an unspecified length because continuing the trial “poses grave, irreversible risks to all participants.” (Def. Ltr. 1 (Dkt. No. 351).) But the defendant has not identified any specific risks to any particular participants other than a generalized fear that such risks could arise. Such generalized risks—while no doubt serious—have already been taken into account by the Chief Judge of this Court, who issued an Order yesterday taking several steps to reduce the size of public gatherings and reduce unnecessary travel. In re: Coronavirus/COVID19 Pandemic, 20 Misc. 154 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 13, 2020). Paragraph 5 of that Order made clear that it was not “meant to affect jury trials that began prior to March 16, 2020, and have not yet concluded,” such as this one. Id. ¶ 5. The Government concurs with the Chief Judge’s view: this ongoing jury trial should be permitted to conclude without a temporary stay.1 Any request for a stay of unspecific length must also be weighed against the public’s interest in a speedy trial and the victim’s rights. 18 U.S.C. 3161(h)(7)(A) (public interest in speedy trial); 18 U.S.C. 3771(a)(7) (crime victim has “right to proceedings free from reasonable delay”). Trial has so far involved a full day of jury selection, nearly two-days of victim-testimony, and testimony from six witnesses in total. The parties’ most recent estimate is that the presentation of  1 The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York learned last Thursday that a special security officer (“SSO”) assigned to the Office tested positive for COVID-19, and earlier today a Special Agent of the Office was informed that he tested positive for COVID-19. Those assigned to the trial team for the Government have not had any known contact with the SSO or Special Agent, and common areas at the Office have undergone sustained deep cleaning and sterilization in recent days. For the avoidance of doubt, no one on the trial team for the Government is exhibiting any symptoms associated with COVID-19. The Silvio J. Mollo Building One Saint Andrew’s Plaza New York, New York 10007 U.S. Department of Justice United States Attorney Southern District of New York Case 1:19-cr-00131-PAE Document 353 Filed 03/14/20 Page 1 of 2 Page 2 evidence will conclude after approximately a half-day of testimony the next day the trial convenes. Imposing an unspecified delay of trial will deprive the public of a speedy resolution of this matter, especially given how close the parties believe they are to resting, and create substantial uncertainty for the victim about when, if ever, her rights will be vindicated. There is also serious concern that the full jury may well be unavailable to return after a lengthy delay. A stay is also unnecessary in light of mitigating steps that are presently being taken by courthouse personnel, as well as additional measures that can be taken. The Government understands the courthouse has undergone substantial disinfectant measures before each courtroom proceeding. See, e.g., Trial Tr. 291. And as a result of the Chief Judge’s Order, there will be substantially fewer people present in the Courthouse this week. Finally, the Government opposes any additional voir dire relating to jurors’ specific views of COVID-19. The jurors have already been asked to commit to being impartial and taken an oath expressing that commitment. In addition, the Court has made abundantly clear to the parties and jurors its attention to the risks of COVID-19 and no juror has expressed any concern. There is no reason to take measures beyond those that have already been taken. For all of these reasons, the Government opposes the defendant’s request for a stay or, in the alternative, additional voir dire." We'll have more on this.

  For the now concluded trial of accused CIA leaker Joshua Schulte, US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman asked to have the public and press excluded from the courtroom during the testimony of several witnesses.

In that case District Judge Paul A. Crotty scheduled a public hearing on Berman's request, held on January 27 before the trial scheduled to began February 3. Inner City Press was and has been there for both, picked up for example here.

  But dated March 6 and only made available over the weekend was a request by Assistant US Attorney Daniel H. Wolf the same office, asked Judge Paul A. Engelmayer to close his courtroom for another impending trial - with no proposal of a public hearing or any opportunity to be heard by the Press or public. Inner City Press as it did before Judge Crotty opposed this closure, now twice, see below.

  With transcripts promised but live tweeting still not allowed, ostensibly even in the "overflow" Courtroom 506, see below, Inner City Press on March 10 and on the morning of March 11 went to Judge Engelmayer's courtroom.

  At the end of the March 11 trial day, with the jury gone but still on the record with a court reporter, Judge Engelmayer brought up the issue of the partially sealed courtroom. He summarized some of Inner City Press' objection and offered a chance to amplify or explain them at the lectern.

   After the advocacy, Judge Engelmayer said that live blogging - the phrase he used - is allowed in Courtroom 506 since there is no jury, etc there. He directed the US Attorney's Office to comply with his order concerning transcripts in 24 hours without cost, and after oral advocacy added in exhibits.

 On March 12 after answering Judge Engelmayer's question in the courtroom on 13, Inner City Press went to Courtroom 506 and live tweeted the testimony of the sealed witness, here.  In essence after drug buys were described and audio and video played, the defense implied that one of the sealed witness' police colleagues may have followed Andrews' girlfriend - perhaps we'll have more in closing. The trial is suspended until Tuesday. Watch this site.

  The last witness of the day before that was John Jay full professor Chitra Raghavan, who became telling the jury how a victim can be sex trafficked by a pimp's use of "micro regulation," punishment and reward, surveillance and "gaslighting" (her word). It was said the direct will go another 45 minutes on March 12, then an hour of cross-examination.

 So Inner City Press hard-won live blogging (or tweeting) from Courtroom 506 and beyond will begin then. Watch this feed and this site.

  On March 11, the cross examination of victim Ms. Greener continued, along the lines of, How much crack did Andrews give you daily? She said she didn't remember.

  Defense lawyer Nelson confronted Ms. Greener with her grand jury testimony, and notes from meetings with the US Attorney's Office on August 16, 2018 and February 27, 2020. On these too, the victim witness said she didn't remember.

 At 1 pm on March 11 Inner City Press went to Room 516 - locked - and to Judge Engelmayer's courtroom: lawyers leaving. Earlier before 9 am Inner City Press filed this: " This follows up on my March 9, 2020 submission opposing the request of the US Attorney's Office to "partially" close your courtroom to the press and public in the above-caption case. While appreciating the slight modifications Your Honor made to the USAO's requests - providing for 24 hour later access, without cost, to transcripts (still not implemented) - I am writing again in light of this afternoon's impending restrictions, worse than in the recent US v. Schulte CIA leaks trial before Judge Crotty.     Although that trial involved CIA agents, a video feed was provided which simply turned the camera away from the witness stand when the confidential witnesses testified. Here, however, you have provided only for an audio feed. And yesterday Inner City Press was informed that no feed into the Press Room would happen because for some reason audio cannot be fed there. This makes no sense.     Then I asked if in the otherwise empty Courtroom 506 where the audio feed it to be provided, I would be able to at least use my smart phone, if not laptop, to live tweet the proceeding. Without explanation, I have been told "no." This also makes no sense. If the rationale to ban cameras in the courtroom is to not encourage lawyers, witnesses and even judges to grandstand or "play to the cameras," those concerns do not exist in an overflow courtroom without lawyers, witnesses or judge(s).     Given your order that the confidential witness(es) will occur this afternoon, and be only audio fed only into Courtroom 506 where I am told I cannot use a phone, I am writing to oppose this at this time, before court on March 11." Watch this feed.

  Hours after the March 10 session, still with the US Attorney's Office not having uploaded any transcript, or even started a file, this was issued: "PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge:  This notice is to inform members of the press and the public that an audio feed of the  testimony referenced in Dkt. 345 will be available in Courtroom 506 of the Thurgood Marshall  U.S. Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, New York, NY." But, Inner City Press is informed, even there no live tweeting will be possible - it is unclear why not. We will have more on this, and on the inaccessibility of the promised transcripts. How can it be that for this sex trafficking trial there is less transparency than for a Central Intelligence Agency trial?

   Back on March 10 Ms. Greener described being addicted to crack and asking a man named Mafia, in Brentwood, Long Island, to find her a pimp. That would be De / Andrews, who with his friend Gucci bought gift cards in a 7-11 in Brooklyn, to convert into Bitcoin into a Backpage ad.

  At that point Judge Engelmayer called a break and summoned the lawyers up to the sidebar, saying No court reporting. Nor could the press go forward. The sidebar discussion was not summarized. And it has been made more difficult to cover this trial than the just complete CIA leaks trial of US v. Schulte. This case is US v. Randall, 19-cr-131 (Engelmayer). Watch this site.

  Here's from the order proposed by AUSAs Daniel Wolf, Maurene Comey and others: "Dear Judge Engelmayer: "(5) because the defendant’s immediate family will be permitted in the courtroom during the UC’s testimony, the transcript of the proceeding will be made available to the public shortly after the testimony is given, and a live audio feed in another courtroom also will be provided, the proposed partial courtroom closure is no broader than necessary to protect the UC’s safety and the integrity of ongoing investigations."

  But it was broader than necessary. So, this immediate opposition, to Judge Engelmayer's Chamber (as was done with Judge Crotty in the Schulte case) and cc AUSA Daniel Wolf, see below and now Docket Number 343.

  Judge Engelmayer for now said the transcript has to be available at no cost in 24 hours - but how? - and that a reporter can enter the courtroom during the "closed" witness sessions. But live reporting? Watch this site.

Inner City Press' opposition: "Re: Press Access to US v. Andrews, 19 Cr. 131, including actual same day access to transcripts and exhibits, and press access to the courtroom Dear Judge Engelmayer:    This concerns the request of the US Attorney's Office to "partially" close your courtroom to the press and public in the above-caption case. The request was dated March 6, but Inner City Press only became aware of the request this morning, and immediately opposes it in the same fashion - email to Chambers and deputy to be filed inthe docket and on ECF - as it did in January 2020 to your colleague Judge Paul A. Crotty on a near-similar request by the USAO. 

This timely opposition is filed on behalf ofInner City Press and in my personal capacity. The  access restrictions are unacceptable, and go beyond those requested even in the Central Intelligence Agency trial before Judge Crotty, US v. Schulte, 17 Cr. 548 (PAC).   In that case, the AUSO proposed allowing thepress into the courtroom during the closure, and provided for a continuous live video feed of the proceedings, with camera turned away for certain witnesses,allow for live tweeting of the proceeding as Inner City Press has done. The AUSO also provided exhibits, and in some cases transcripts, in an online file for the press.     Here, AUSA Wolf's letter does not propose any press access to the courtroom during the proposed "partial" closures.Live tweeting would not, apparently, be possible of any portion of the proceedings(see, e.g., your case US v. Jones." 18-cr-834, at #364, pg 23 (October 17,2019). In that case, Inner City Press' live-tweeting drew an "incident report" a copy of which I have yet to see.) This hinders reporting. Given that and the simultaneous US v. Nejad and US v. Schulte, see above, provisions must be made for live-tweeting of this proceeding.

   AUSA Wolf said the public would have the transcripts the night after proceedings - but how? For hundreds of dollars? That is not access. He does not mention access to exhibits, as Inner City Press advocated for and has largely obtained in US v. Schulte, see e.g. its filings in the docket, viewable free (not 10 cents a page) here, here and here.

  The U.S.Supreme Court has recognized that reporting by the news media allows members ofthe public to monitor the criminal justice system without attending proceedings in person. Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v Virginia, 448 U.S. at 572-73  (1980). By attending and reporting on court proceedings, members of the press "function[] as surrogates for the public." Id. at 573.We ask that this be placed in the ECF docket and that these issues be addressed by Your Honor before the trial begins." Watch this site.



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