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Ability To Report On Judge Supervising Defendants Called Into Question Amid Sealing

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 5 – Much of the time of Federal judges in the U.S. court system involves supervising, and sometimes remanding, criminal defendants whom they have previously sentenced.

 So it is in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

While many of the District Judges only see those they sentenced if there is an alleged violation of supervised release - hence the statement at sentencing, I hope I never see you again -- Judge Richard M. Berman is different.

And Inner City Press has covered his brand of supervision, with interest and not without sympathy

But apparently there are problems, with covering and reporting on this public proceedings. 

 On November 5 Judge Berman held a supervision session with a defendant Inner City Press has been asked to leave unnamed. The proceeding began some 18 minutes late, after some banter about the current boarding-up  of stores on Manhattan's Upper East Side. 

  But half way through the actual proceeding, Judge Berman said that he hope that the press that covered the proceeding would not use any names. The defense lawyer said he agreed; the Assistant US Attorney, whom it seems clear could be identified, said that while it was of course an open proceeding he more or less agreed. Does his Office? 

  The rationale was that medical and treatment information is discussed. Fine - Inner City Press has generally left such information about of its reports, expect perhaps once mentioning Judge Berman's statement that he would go up to the Bronx to help take a supervisee into treatment.

That was laudable - but apparently, is not to be reported. Or only without any names, which takes it out of the realm of journalism.  

  At the end, Judge Berman asked the AUSA to be sure to order the transcript. And, it is true, the transcripts of these proceeding are public, part of the record on PACER, with names.. It is unclear why then the press should not report on these proceedings. 

This happened while Inner City Press is, for example, seeking to unseal the sentencing submission of Peter Bright a/k/a Doctor Pizza, found guilty by a jury of seeking to entice a nine year old girl into sex. (In fairness, he says it was just age playing).

  The memo's section "Bright Is Not A Pedophile" is entirely redacted. But these are public proceeding, in which public funds are spent, and that potentially impact the public. 

  Inner City Press out of respect for the request is not including in this report the name of the defendants - an amiable person - nor of his defense attorney. But it is unclear why. We will continue on these issues. 

This case we'll have to call US v. Name Not Published At Judge's Request, Blank-CR-Blank (Berman).


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