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SDNY Judge Rakoff To Take Pleas In Arguedas Case With Shared Thermometer, Trial of 1

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Dec 9 – Michael Delaguila was Sealed Defendant 2 in the narcotics conspiracy case of US v. Arguedas, et al, which Inner City Press has reported on since the sealed indictment was filed, including a shared thermometer, see below.

  Now the case has been assigned to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who on December 9, 2021 was told that three of the four remaining defendant may plead guilty, leaving a one defendant trial.

  Judge Rakoff said he would prefer to have a trial; he similarly expressed doubt at the prosecutors' estimate of four weeks for such a trial, noting that in the "small case" of Ghislaine Maxwell the US had said four to five and was set to finish in two. (Earlier in the day, a prosecutor was ill and the trial postponed, at least for a day.

  Judge Rakoff was asked since he had only taken the case for purposes of trial, if he wanted the plea proceedings to be elsewhere. No, Judge Rakoff said, he'll take the pleas and thus learn more about the case.

 Delaguila was denied bail by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave, and was at the Essex County Correctional Facility in New Jersey.

   There, his assigned attorney Ben Silverman has attemped to visit him, with little success. Silverman says the ECCF would take his temperature with a shared oral thermometer, and not allow him to leave discovery materials with Delaguila. 

 On June 11 SDNY Judge Jesse M. Furman to whom the case had then been assigned held a conference on short notice - in fact, Inner City Press only because aware of it by covering the proceeding that came before, see below.

 In July from Judge Furman in the case, this: "ORDER as to Edgardo Baranco: Earlier today, counsel submitted by email a letter motion seeking modification of Defendants bail conditions. Although the letter motion does contain some sensitive medical information that may be kept under seal, there is no basis to seal the letter in its entirety. Accordingly, no later than July 6, 2020, counsel shall file proposed redactions in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Courts Individual Rules and Practices. By the same date, the Government shall file a response to the letter motion, which also provides the position of Pretrial Services. (Defense counsel is reminded that, under the Courts Individual Rules and Practices, she should have conferred with the Government and Pretrial Services before making her motion and included their positions in her letter motion.) (Signed by Judge Jesse M. Furman on 7/2/2020)." We'll have more on this.

On June 11, several Essex County Correctional Facility representatives appeared, to try to rebut the thermometer and other complaints. 

  The question arose, why can't ECCF estasblish the type of video bridge for attorney client communications that the MCC and MDC have? Inner City Press live tweeted the proceeding:

Judge Furman began by noting he ordered the parties to be ready to address issues in his order the other day.  Procedural Press question: then why isn't this proceeding in the PACER calendar? Will look into. Judge Furman says he is concerned about these 6th Amendment issues.

 Judge Furman: I've found there is no communications with counsel. A few months ago that was understandable. Mr. Silverman didn't make this motion two months ago. But now it is time to look into it. Can't keep deferring it.

Judge Furman: I'd rather try to fix the problem than grant bail to someone who is not seriously arguing his is appropriate for bail. But at a certain point it's simply not fair, to be in jail with no prospects of a trial.

AUSA Andrew Chan: Courts have been reluctant to micro-management prisons. But Courts can make a finding that a defendant cannot confer with counsel in a particular facility, and grant temporary release. But he think you should wait.

AUSA Chan: Mr Silverman has had four calls in nine weeks. He had a video call scheduled in May that got canceled due to an emergency in the prison. We acknowledge that's frustrating. But we think Mr. Silverman should schedule another one.

Judge Furman: Mr. Silverman says video is only if you got to the jail and take your temperature with a shared thermometer. Then the camera is too far away to show the evidence that is subject to the protective order.

 AUSA Chan: They sanitize the thermometer, we're told. I might be helpful to get more data. He should visit again. The discovery information identifies some of the cooperating witnesses. That is sensitive.

AUSA Chan: Some of the social media extractions have sexually explicit material. Prisons have historically not allowed inmates to have this. Perhaps a "window visit" could be scheduled.

 AUSA Chan says that Essex County Correctional Facility has window visits, which the MCC and MDC don't have. Now the ECCF representative, "not barred in New York," launches into it.  Admits there were oral thermometer used at first. Now forehead scanner.

 Essex County Correctional Facility rep says Silverman only requested a single "window visit," and didn't show up. Silverman was told if he didn't want to use the video portal in our lobby he could bring his own laptop. So we do not think there is any 6 Am problem.

Judge Furman: What app is used in the iPads? Can documents be shown? ECCF warden William J. Anderson: It cannot do screen sharing.  Judge Furman: Is there any talk about screen sharing? Warden: They're working on it.

Silverman: I sent this photo of the EDNY video conferencing facility to your deputy, Ms. Smallman. 

Judge Furman: To make it public, please file it on ECF.

 Silverman: There's a bunch of lascivious material in the discovery in jail. And the oral thermometer, it was in use in late May when I went there. An hour before this call, I was suddenly told that Essex would make concessions. We argued for bail before Judge Cave Silverman says he doubts he can find a paralegal to spend 20 to 30 hours in the Essex County Correctional Facility, given COVID-19. ECCF rep returns to say oral thermometers were stopped May 7. 

Judge Furman: There's direct bridge from jail to court in SDNY & ENDY

 Warden Anderson: We have three laptops, a connection to "Western District." We have ICE and Marshal inmates. 

Judge Furman: What about video to NJ Federal Defenders?

 Warden Anderson: If any attorney told us it was broken we'd fix it.

Judge Furman: To find a 2142(i) [or 6th Amendment?] violation I'd have to have a better record, with Mr. Silverman requesting things. Put your thinking caps on. There are unprecedented times. I want a report 2 weeks from today.  

Inner City Press will continue to cover this case. It is US v. Arguedas, et al., 20-cr-135 (Rakoff). 



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