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In SDNY Sex Trafficking Trial Press Barred While Judge Marrero Charged Jury

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, July 12 – In a child sex trafficking trial there was a sign on the courtroom door barring the Press on July 12: "JUDGE CHARGING JURY: NO Admittance." The sign had the name of the Clerk of the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

  Inner City Press, which alone has been covering the case all week, asked the Court Security Officer who was not responsible for the sign but replied, That is how it is.

After some telephone calls, belatedly the door was unlocked and Inner City Press was allowed to sit in the back. But what explained the locking up of a presumptively open criminal jury trial? This has not been answered; nor has the unilaterally sealing and ouster of the Press from two recent criminal sentencings in the SDNY, here (Judge Schofield) and here (Judge Preska).

Alongside the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking charges and attendants media interest there is a sex trafficking trial taking place with no media present other than Inner City Press in the same
SDNY. On July 9 an FBI agent was questioned and then cross-examined about finding a jar of condoms, bras and panties and victims in the defendant's apartment, which police and agents entered in a stack on December 12, 2018. That came a day after a sealed indictment on December 11, wheeled out to Judge Victor Marrero, with a warrant executed the next day.

 Now seven months later Lloyd Kidd a/k/a Chris Kidd is on trial. His attorney Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma has argued to Judge Marrero that the government violated the Fourth Amendment, to no avail.

  By July 11 Judge Marrero was taking final comments on his jury charge. The government wanted the instructions to note that the Backpage summaries had been admitted into evidence. The defense lawyer was distracted, telling his client Kidd he had to let him concentrate. Kidd then directed his ire to another at the defense table. Perhaps he seems things coming to a bad end. But the U.S. Attorney's Office has yet to make public a single one of the exhibits, and the video monitor for the press and public in the gallery remained dark on July 11.

 It was on July 12 that Inner City Press was barred from much of Judge Marrero's jury charge. Once in, Judge Marrero read through the elements including the names of some of the victims. He said that the tradition in this District is the Juror Number 1, whom he named, will be the foreperson.

Judge Marrero thanked and instructed the two alternate jurors, whom he named, to leave - without telling them to still comply with the usual rules, and that they might have to come back. Does he know something? Inner City Press in order to not be locked out again stayed in for the next proceeding, in which 27% of a settlement going to attorneys fees was approved. We'll have more on all this: watch this site.

 On July 10 a slew of government exhibits were introduced, but again none shown on the monitor for the press and public gallery. The microphone of Witness Ms. Brown cut in and out. But when the defense object to the exhibits as cumulative and prejudicial -- was cited -- and a sidebar was called, the white noise to block it out worked just fine. When it was over, the exhibits were admitted without objection. But what are they? Where are they? Inner City Press has asked.

Meanwhile Assistant US Attorneys Mollie Bracewell, Elinor Tarlow and Jacob Gutwillig complained to Judge Marrero that victims / witnesses have been intimidated in telephone calls to numbers the government provided to the defense on July 5 designated as "confidential, attorneys eyes only."

  Inner City Press went to see the trial on July 9 - after being unceremoniously told to leave another criminal proceeding - and found most government objections to the cross examination of the FBI agent being sustained. The video monitor meant for the press and public was not showing any of the exhibits. We'll have more on this. The case is US v. Kidd, 18-cr-872 (VM).

  That Jeffrey Epstein, now in the Metropolitan Correctional Center by Foley Square, will be denied bail later this week is widely reported. But as Inner City Press has reported from the SDNY Magistrates Court this year, at least two accused pedofiles have been released on bond, with conditions.

One, Donnie Fetters, was bailed by Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang on May 10 and allowed to fly back to Iowa from whence he came to Laguardia to meet an underage girl, or what he thought was an underage girl. See the Inner City Press, the only media that day in the Magistrate Court, story here. Fetters remains free; most recently his appearance before SDNY Judge Victor Marrero was waived. This case is now US v. Fetters, 19-cr-387 (VM).

On May 30 SDNY Magistrate Judge James L. Cott granted bond to Bryan Pivnick, accused of grooming an 11 year old boy, see Inner City Press story here: now Pivnick is asking for greater access to the Internet in New Jersey, ostensibly to pay his student loans. This case is now US v. Pivnick, 19-cr-00464 (PKC). More on Patreon, here.

Certainly, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking charges are different. But these two recent bailings, and the SDNY's continuing usually ignored proceedings, merit reporting, which Inner City Press will continue to do, perched as for months over the PACER terminal in the 500 Pearl Street press room, if it is available, as it continues its "Murky Mag Court" series. 

Back on March 6 when the question of releasing or at least reviewing sealed Jeffrey Epstein documents was taken up by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Inner City Press story here, Alan Dershowitz was there. Afterward by the elevators in 40 Foley Square Inner City Press asked Dershowitz, what he'd thought of Judge Sweet's decision. He began to say, Judge Sweet made a mistake - when first his lawyer gestured that they should go, and then the clerk of court asked everyone to leave the floor.

 Now it's reported not only that on July 8 Epstein will be presented and indicted on sex trafficking charges but also that a search warrant was executed on Epstein's Manhattan mansion at 8 East 71st Street on July 6. Epstein is in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, photo here, along with among others convicted UN briber, Antonio Guterres linked, Patrick Ho of CEFC.

  Cursory research revealed not only Epstein as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, but bragging about his financial support to CFR, through the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation. Photo here. What will CFR say? Will they belatedly be returning the money?

While some call it a pink hued building on a dead end street, his mansion is at 9 East 71st Street - one block, it turns out, from the Qatar royal family mansion which has hosted human trafficking covered up in the SDNY, see Inner City Press here, and below.

The July 8 presentment will presumably be in Courtroom 5A of 500 Pearl Street, or perhaps a larger room to accommodate the interest. In Courtroom 5A as the July 1-3 work week ended Inner City Press alone in the gallery observed Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses signed sealed indictments and warrants, even with what some called sleight of hand of saying there would be no action until 8 pm then, when Inner City Press ran to the PACER terminal in the press room, ending the day's business at 7:45 pm with no press present. Expect on July 7 another Geoffrey Berman press conference as well -- Inner City Press will be there.

  The rights or lack of rights of victims have been highlighted for some in this case - but the violation of rights of less prominent people has been happening every day, from before March until now in the SDNY including its murky Magistrates Court. Inner City Press was in the 2d Circuit in March and will be in the SDNY July 8, based from a PACER terminal, documenting the disparities. Watch this site.

Back in March all of the parties - the Miami Herald's Julie Brown, Mike Cernovich, Alan Dershowitz and even Virginia Giuffre -- were pushing for the unsealing of the documents, except Ghislaine Maxwell.  Her lawyer Ty Gee argued that people had relied on the commitment to seal the information. He ended by saying the U.S. judicial system is not about democracy.

But by then the panel of Judges of Cabranes, Pooler and Droney had made it pretty clear they will be remanding the case and the 167 documents back to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The only question seems to be whether Judge Sweet, who initially agreed to seal them, will get the case on remand or if another judge will.

. He challenged Giuffre to sue him, and of Judge Cassel was highly critical, a term of art.

Another term of art: slut-shamer, a term applied during the argument to Mike Cernovich but one that the judges mocked, with Judge Pooler asking if there was a "slut-shaming cabal." The wider point was that there is in the United States no system for certifying journalists, that as the Ninth Circuit case Opsidium v Cox has it, journalist is something you do, not something you are.

All citizens - and non citizens, as in the case of Argentines seeking information about their country's debt revealed in a U.S. case - have a right to information, a right that predated the Constitution.  The judges reserved judgement. Inner City Press will continue to cover this and other SDNY and 2nd Circuit cases - watch this site.

The Qatar ruling family's abuse of employees and laws was exposed in an off the record initial conference at in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on February 14; Inner City Press was the only media present.

Inner City Press wrote an exclusive story that day, February 14, then more in the following few days as more sources contacted us. Now it has learned that the UK's Daily Mail days later on February 21 false claimed an exclusive on the story, here.

On June 1 Inner City Press reported that the Qatari royals' lawyers were on the cusp of succeeding in burying the case in mediation by JAMS. A low-ball settlement - except for attorneys fees -- was submitted to SDNY Judge J. Paul Oetken on June 1. The total is $150,000, fully half being attorneys' fees; it is signed by the royals without any admission.

 And now on June 10, this: "ORDER: The proposed settlement at Docket Number 36-1 is approved, and the case is hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Court shall retain jurisdiction solely to resolve any disputes arising from the settlement agreement and the settlement of this action. The Clerk of Court is directed to close the case. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge J. Paul Oetken on 6/10/2019) (jca)."  So the issue of human trafficking has been buried, for money, in the SDNY.

Tellingly, the cover letter stated that "Defendants – who are members of the royal family of Qatar – noted that if they received certification from the State Department, they would potentially be considered diplomats entitled to full immunity, resulting in immediate dismissal of the litigation for lack of subject matter jurisdiction." So the Qatar royals used the threat of support from the U.S. State Department to cover up human trafficking. We'll have more on this - and there is more on Patreon, here.

Earlier the Qatari royals' lawyer complained of a text message from Benjamin Boyd.  Judge Oetken noted to "uncertainty as to how Defendants caught sight of the offending text message in the first place," left it open to pursue the issue later, without prejudice.

  On April 17 the Qatari royals' lawyers filed a motion to stay the proceeding past the June 14 return date, for mediation by JAMS. Judge Oetken's order on the motion is listed but no live in the docket.

   The plaintiffs' lawyers, Pardalis & Novavicka through Araidne Panagopoulou engaged in other mundane FLSA litigation in front of Judge Oetken even on May 20, here, seem unaware of the explosive human rights aspects revealed. This is among the substantive reasons that courtroom must be open.


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