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Melzer Who Wanted Mid East War Pled Guilty Now Wants 15 Years Not 45 Year Guideline

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 3 – Ethan Melzer a/k/a Etil Reggad was charged with conspiring to target his U.S. Army unit, allegedly because "another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark."

Since his indictment his lawyers at Federal Defenders have sought information about the selection of the grand jury, and the constitution of the Master and Qualified Jury Wheels (others are seeking this too, as covered by Inner City Press here).  

Jump cut to June 23, 2022, two weeks before trial, word of a guilty plea: "ENDORSED LETTER as to Ethan Phelan Melzer addressed to Judge Gregory H. Woods from AUSAs Sam Adelsberg / Matthew Hellman / Kimberly Ravener, dated June 23, 2022 re: Following consultation with Your Honor's Chambers earlier today, the parties write jointly to advise they have reached a plea agreement, which they believe will obviate the need for any trial in this matter, and to request that the Court schedule a change-of-plea hearing... ENDORSEMENT: Application granted in part. The Court will hold a change of plea hearing."

On February 3, 2023, Melzer's Federal Defenders filed his sentencing memo, asking for 15 years rather than the 45 year Guideline Sentence the calculation of which they do not object to. They cite a troubled background in Kentucky complete with "role-playing video games." Next he was in a US Army base in Vincenza, Italy drinking heavily and "spending too much time online." Before a deployment to Turkey he disseminated info about the deployment on chat rooms on Telegram. Nearly all of page 18 is redacted.

 Back on July 6, 2020 he was arraigned before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn. Inner City Press live tweeted it, below.

In November, Melzer through his Federal Defenders filed a motion to dismiss based on the racial and ethnic make up of the Jury wheel used during the COVID-19 pandemic - in White Plains.

On July 26, 2021, this: "ORDER as to Ethan Phelan Melzer. Trial in this matter will commence at 9:00 a.m. on April 25, 2022."

On March 3, Judge Woods moved it up: "ORDER as to Ethan Phelan Melzer. On July 26, 2021, the Court scheduled trial in this matter for April 25, 2022. The trial will now begin on April 19, 2022. This is the first priority trial for that day. Trial will take place in a courtroom to be determined in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York, 10007. All other deadlines laid out in the Courts July 26, 2021 order remain in effect. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Gregory H. Woods on 3/3/2022)."

Hours later the Federal Defenders wrote in, saying that the US Attorney's Office agreed that the trial should be delayed to July.

Docketed on March 7, this: "ORDER [101] JOINT LETTER MOTION addressed to Judge Gregory H. Woods from Jonathan Marvinny dated March 3, 2022 re: Adjourn trial. The parties' March 3, 2022 request for an adjournment of the trial in this case, which was previously scheduled to begin on April 19, 2022, is granted. Trial will commence at 9:00 a.m. on July 5, 2022."

And on June 16, a more detailed schedule including a Daubert hearing: "the Court is currently reviewing the Governments motion to exclude the testimony of Defendants expert, Dr. David Greenfield. The parties are requested to hold June 22, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. for a Daubert hearing to address that motion. Absent any indication otherwise from the Court, the Daubert hearing will proceed at that time in Courtroom 12C, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007. Any application to hold that hearing remotely, which should include the legal basis for the Court's ability to do so, is due no later than June 19, 2022. In addition, and as discussed on the record during the June 16, 2022 hearing, the Court will hold a hearing to discuss the jury questionnaire and voir dire in this case on June 27, 2022 at 10:00 am."

On May 4, after a proceeding that ranged into how WhatApp messages are downloaded and saved - or not - this: "ORDER as to Ethan Phelan Melzer: the Government's motions in limine are granted in part and denied in part. The Court determines that, based on the information currently available, the probative value of the materials referred to by the Government as the "Jihadist Materials" and the "O9A Materials" is not substantially outweighed by risk of unfair prejudice or the other concerns articulated in Federal Rule of Evidence 403. The Court also determines that, at this point, it is likely that the Government will be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy existed between Defendant, CC-1, and CC-3 as required to admit their statements pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d). However, the Government has not provided a sufficient basis to admit statements by CC-1 and CC-3 as statements against interest under Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3). At this point, the Court will not preclude, under Federal Rule of Evidence 403, the admission of Defendant's statement regarding his lack of patriotism made to Individual-1. The Court will also refer the military base described in the parties' briefs as the "Military Base" at trial, and will prevent the disclosure of the jurors' names and other identifying information to the public. As further discussed during the pretrial conference, the parties are directed to submit a joint letter setting forth their positions as to whether the use of a jury questionnaire would be appropriate and preferable in this case no later than May 13, 2022. In that joint letter, the parties should also indicate whether there are any issues regarding the phrasing or scope of the proposed voir dire questions to be provided by the Court. Further, as discussed during the conference, the parties are ordered to meet and confer and submit any proposed limiting instructions to the Court no later than June 3, 2022. If the parties cannot agree on any particular limiting instruction, they should submit a joint letter along with that submission setting forth their respective positions. In addition, and as discussed during the conference, no later than June 21, 2022, the parties are ordered to submit a joint letter setting forth their respective positions regarding any statements that the Defendant seeks to admit pursuant to the rule of completeness. If there is no disagreement regarding the statements Defendant seeks to admit pursuant to that rule, the parties need not file a joint letter.  (Signed by Judge Gregory H. Woods on 5/4/2022)." Watch this site.

On May 24, Melzer's Federal Defenders filed a 24-page motion to dismiss arguing that "counts must be dismissed because the charged statutes do not reach Mr. Melzer's overseas conduct." They cite a 2018 Georgetown Law Journal article.

  As to the Order of Nine Angles, which the US calls a "Satanic anarchist group founded in the UK," the argument is for that reason, the UK HQ, US law cannot reach it. They continue: "in the civil context, federal courts have repeatedly held that certain civil laws do no reach conduct on overseas U.S. military bases because these bases are not within the 'jurisdiction' of the United States." Watch this site.

Days earlier, on May 20, the US Attorney Office has put in a letter that  Melzer was taken into custody at a U.S. military facility in Europe on June 10, 2020 - and was flown directly to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, north of New York City. Watch this site.

 On September 9 the assigned District Judge, Gregory H. Woods, arraigned Melzer on the superseding indictment. Inner City Press again live tweeted it, below.

  At week's end the US Attorney's Office previewed for Judge Woods requests for sealing they will make under CIPA: "To the extent the Court would like additional information about the Government’s anticipated CIPA § 4 motion, the Government is available to participate in an ex parte classified CIPA § 2 conference at the Court’s convenience. See 18 U.S.C. app. 3 § 2 (establishing that the court, at a  party’s request or on its own initiative, can hold “a pretrial conference to consider matters relating to classified information that may arise in connection with the prosecution”); see also United States v. Saipov, No. S1 17 Cr. 722 (VSB), 2019 WL 5558214, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 29, 2019) (concluding that it was proper for the Court to conduct several ex parte conferences, including a conference pursuant to CIPA § 2). The Government anticipates that by the time of the next conference, defense counsel will have had an opportunity to review the limited amount of classified discovery that the Government plans to produce and the Government’s CIPA § 10 notice. Accordingly, at that conference, the Government will ask the Court to set the deadline for the Government’s CIPA § 4 motion as the same date as the deadline for the defendant’s pretrial motions, and to set a schedule for the defendant’s CIPA § 5 notice and for CIPA § 6 briefing." Inner City Press will continue to report on this.

The case is US v. Melzer, 20-cr-314 (Woods / Netburn)


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