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In SDNY Sex Trafficking Case Ended by COVID Rivera Produced Late From MCC SHU

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 28 – 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 and got a stay and then end of the trial.

The reason? Coronavirus COVID-19.

  Now for that re-trial one of the US Attorney's Office's witnesses is blamed for putting the jury, court staff, and the Press at risk (Inner City Press witnessed and reported on her March 12 testimony, here) - "Re: United States v. Randall et al., No. 19 Cr. 131 (PAE) Dear Judge Engelmayer: At the outset of the pandemic, which was dominating headlines even then, the government's witness Chitra Raghavan flouted an order barring people from the courthouse if they were exhibiting certain symptoms, which included coughing. During her testimony, Dr. Raghavan's coughing fits were alarming. Perhaps sensing the unease of the trial participants, Dr. Raghavan offered a pretext – her allergy to dust and carpeting – was the reason for her coughing and she continued to testify – and cough. Emails that were later produced by the government revealed that Dr. Raghavan suspected that she had COVID-19 at the time of her testimony. In a letter motion filed under seal on September 25, 2020, the government asserts that this patently reckless and inexplicable conduct should be out of bounds on cross-examination. Proffer notes recently supplied by the government pursuant to the Jencks Act reflect that Dr. Raghavan blatantly violated the Southern District’s Standing Order prohibiting people with specifically enumerated symptoms, including coughing, from entering the courthouse. It is clear that Dr. Raghavan misled the Court. Dr. Raghavan’s noncompliance with the Court’s order put the lives of the trial participants and the jurors in jeopardy. More than a fair inference can be drawn that Dr. Raghavan misled your Honor through counsel for the government and ultimately, the jury, while under oath." Full letter on Patreon here.

 On October 28, two co-defendants to have their own trial four weeks after Andrews were set for a pre-trial conference. But while Dwayne Conley was there, Justin Rivera was absent. It was said he is in the MCC's Special Housing Unit or SHU. Finally 45 minutes later, he was on the line. Judge Engelmayer expressed his displeasure, and the docket says "defendant Rivera was not produced." We'll have more on this.

 On September 11, a pre-trial conference was held for the upcoming second Andrew trial. Andrews, speaking for himself, objected to the exclusion of time under the Speedy Trial Act. But it was continued. Inner City Press tweeted, below.

 On October 16, the US opposed and, it would seem, has torpedoed Andrews' request for a bench or non-jury trial: "Re: United States v. Carl Andrews, 19 Cr. 131 (PAE) Dear Judge Engelmayer: Defendant Carl Andrews is expected to proceed to trial in early 2021. On October 14, 2020, Andrews requested a non-jury trial. (Dkt. 525). Andrews has further informed the Government that he is unwilling to stipulate to the testimony of the witness whose medical condition prompted the trial adjournment in this case. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 23(a) states that a trial must be by jury unless the defendant waives the jury trial, the government consents, and the Court approves. After carefully considering Andrews’s request for a jury trial, the Government has decided not to consent to Andrews’s request. Accordingly, Andrews’s trial should proceed before a jury."

  For the purpose - and to put into the record the admonitions of the US Attorney's Office required by amendments to FRCP 5(f), Judge Engelmayer held a proceeding. Andrews' lawyer is asking for an associate counsel at $100 an hour, and for photocopies from Big Apple Copying to be delivered to the MCC.

A letter from EDNY AUSA Saritha Komitireddy to EDNY Juge Eric R. Komitee shows that office citing delays in US v. Donzinger between SDNY Judge Loretta Preska, and of delivering a laptop to a BOP facilities.

 Here is the CRCP5(f) order, the language of which was hammered out by an SDNY committee that Judge Engelmayer heads: "ORDER as to Carl Andrews. This Order is entered, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5(f), to confirm the Governments disclosure obligations under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and its progeny, and to summarize the possible consequences of violating those obligations. The Government must disclose to the defense all information "favorable to an accused" that is "material either to guilt or to punishment" and that is known to the Government. Id. at 87. This obligation applies regardless of whether the information would itself constitute admissible evidence. The Government shall make good-faith efforts to disclose such information to the defense as soon as reasonably possible after its existence becomes known to the Government, so as to enable the defense to make effective use of the information in the preparation of its case. The Government must also disclose information that can be used to impeach the trial testimony of a Government witness. Such information must be disclosed sufficiently in advance of trial in order for the defendant to make effective use of it at trial or at such other time as the Court may order. The foregoing obligations are continuing ones and apply to materials that become known to the Government in the future. Additionally, if information is otherwise subject to disclosure, it must be disclosed regardless of whether the Government credits it. In the event the Government believes that a disclosure under this Order would compromise witness safety, victim rights, national security, a sensitive law-enforcement technique, or any other substantial government interest, it may apply to the Court for a modification of its obligations, which may include in camera review or withholding or subjecting to a protective order all or part of the information otherwise subject to disclosure. For purposes of this Order, the Government includes federal, state, and local law-enforcement officers and other officials who have participated in the investigation and prosecution of the offense or offenses with which the defendant is charged. The Government has an obligation to seek from these sources all information subject to disclosure under this Order. If the Government fails to comply with this Order, the Court, in addition to ordering production of the information, may: (1) specify the terms and conditions of such production; (2) grant a continuance; (3) impose evidentiary sanctions; (4) impose sanctions on any responsible lawyer for the Government; (5) dismiss charges before trial or vacate a conviction after trial or a guilty plea; or enter any other order that is just under the circumstances. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on 10/26/2020)(jbo) (Entered: 10/26/2020)."Inner City Press will stay on this case.

This US v. Andrews case, the 1st COVID mis-trial version of which Inner City Press covered including from separate courtroom 506 listening to but not seeing a "confidential" witness, is heating up.

 Meanwhile, the parallel case of two co-defendants stands to be delayed, as least as to one of them: "Re: United States v. Dwayne Conley  Dkt. No. 19-Cr-131 (PAE) Dear Judge Engelmayer: On behalf of Mr. Conley, I request that the trial be adjourned to January, 2021. The Government does not oppose an adjournment to the first quarter of 2021. We have conferred with counsel for Mr. Rivera, and have been informed that they are not in a position to consent to our request given Mr. Rivera's desire to exercise his right to a speedy trial."  Inner City Press will stay on the case

  On September 8, with talk of the MCC re-opening to legal visits,and MDC visits already having taken place to Ghislaine Maxwell and NXIVM defendant(s), a motion to dismiss on venue, complete with X-rate text messages. Photo here.

  Defense lawyers say that "despite Ms. [REDACTED] testifying under this name in open court, the government does not consent to our use of her name. Accordingly, no public filing in support of the instant motion will contain Ms. [REDACTED] name."

The case is US v. Randall, 19-cr-131 (Engelmayer).

   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. We'll have more on this.

  For the 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.

The case is US v. Randall, et al., 19-cr-131  (Engelmayer).



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