Court Orders

Court orders Michael Cohen’s release – POLITICO

A lawyer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan insisted that the conditions presented to Cohen earlier this month were not aimed at quashing publication of his book. Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Rovner said the probation officer who presented Cohen with the list of limits received the language from a colleague in May and was not even aware that Cohen was planning a book.

“With all respect, your honor, it is actually impossible to draw the inference that you’re suggesting,” Rovner said.

But the judge made clear from the outset of Thursday’s court session that he was highly dubious of the government’s position. He said logic dictated that the provision about media contact was aimed at silencing Cohen and that ordering him rejailed because he didn’t want to sign also amounted to retaliation.

Officials have denied any political motive in the handling of Cohen’s release or reimprisonment. However, in a court filing Wednesday, one prison system official said Bureau of Prisons Deputy Director Gene Beasley was consulted and concurred before Cohen was ordered back into custody two weeks ago. Government lawyers did not submit a declaration from Beasley indicating whether he discussed the matter with the BOP director or officials at Justice Department headquarters.

Hellerstein also said the authorities handling Cohen appeared to have overreacted to efforts by one of his attorneys to negotiate the terms of his release.

Probation officer Adam Pakula submitted a declaration that called Cohen “combative” and “argumentative” during the back-and-forth about the conditions, but Hellerstein said it seemed odd to penalize Cohen simply for objecting.

“Why could not something like that be a subject of negotiation with an attorney? What’s an attorney for if he’s not going to negotiate an agreement for his client?” Hellerstein asked. “That’s a common thing. If you want to call it discussion, negotiation, you can call it that. I can’t see there’s a fair inference made because an attorney is negotiating, there’s an exhibit of intransigence on the part of the defendant.”

Hellerstein also complained that after the discussion about the conditions, Cohen was told to wait and then simply taken into custody without any further exchange. Cohen has maintained that while he objected to several aspects of the proposed agreement, he would have signed it if he had known the alternative was to be sent back to prison.

“Mr. Cohen was never given a chance to say, ‘If this is it, I will sign,'” the judge said.

Rovner said the Bureau of Prisons wasn’t obliged to do anything more.

“I think he was not then given a chance to sign, but he had already refused,” Rovner said. “I don’t think that BOP is necessarily required to give him a chance to negotiate.”

At one point during Thursday’s session, Hellerstein grew prickly as second prosecutor — Thomas McKay — attempted to interject with what he called a “factual matter” related to the dispute.

“Is Ms. Rovner not capable of answering my question?” the judge snapped. “You keep quiet. If Ms. Rovner wants to consult you, she may. … One person speaks on a side.”

While clearly siding with Cohen, the judge did signal that he thought some limits on the former Trump lawyer’s media activities were reasonable, noting that he remained a prisoner even if serving his sentence at home.

However, it was unclear whether the judge fully appreciated how broadly someone can engage with the press and the public from home via the use of modern technology.

“Could he turn his home into a television studio?” the judge asked skeptically. “Just as you wouldn’t have a press conference from a jail cell, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a press conference. You can communicate. You can discuss. You can post on social media. All sorts of thing. …You can’t make a person confined to jail at home into a total free person. There’s got to be a limit.”

During the hearing, Cohen attorney Danya Perry initially resisted any limits on Cohen’s speech, arguing that they did not serve “any legitimate penological purpose.” However, she later said she was willing to negotiate with prison officials on terms to cover Cohen’s conduct while confined at home.

“He wants to be able to publish and edit his book,” said Perry. “Mr. Cohen will be happy to work with them. … I don’t know what the Bureau of Prisons is looking to do.”

The language Cohen was initially asked to agree to said the limits on his speech and contact with the media were intended to “avoid glamorizing or bringing publicity to [his] status as a sentenced inmate serving a custodial term in the community.”

In 2018, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of charges, including tax evasion, campaign finance violations related to payments during the 2016 campaign to women claiming sexual relationships with Trump, and lying to a Senate committee about the state of discussions during the same campaign about a Trump Tower Moscow project.

Some lawyers said Trump seemed to be implicated in the campaign finance charges and the charge of lying to Congress, but no charge was ever brought against him.

Justice Department policy bars charging a sitting president. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team declined to opine on whether Trump had or had not broken the law, but Attorney General William Barr announced that the evidence did not support any such charge.

Trump has accused Cohen of fabricating stories in order to try to curry favor with prosecutors.

Cohen was sent home in May after serving about half of his sentence.

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judge Orders

Judge Orders ICE To Free Detained Immigrant Children Because Of COVID-19 – NPR

Immigrants seeking asylum hold hands as they leave a cafeteria at the ICE South Texas Family Residential Center. Independent inspectors told the judge that COVID-19 tests at the centers and the infection rates in the counties where the Texas facilities are located are cause for concern.

Eric Gay/AP

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Eric Gay/AP

Immigrants seeking asylum hold hands as they leave a cafeteria at the ICE South Texas Family Residential Center. Independent inspectors told the judge that COVID-19 tests at the centers and the infection rates in the counties where the Texas facilities are located are cause for concern.

Eric Gay/AP

Citing the unrelenting spread of the coronavirus, a federal judge has ordered that all children currently held in ICE custody for more than 20 days must be released by July 17.

Judge Dolly Gee of California issued the scathing order Friday afternoon saying the Trump administration had failed to provide even the most basic health protections for children and their families amid the pandemic.

She described the ICE-operated facilities as being “on fire,” adding that “there is no more time for half measures.”

“Although progress has been made, the Court is not surprised that COVID19 has arrived at both the [Family Residential Centers] and [Office of Refugee Resettlement] facilities, as health professionals have warned all along,” Gee wrote.

The order applies to all three of the family detention facilities in the U.S. Two are located in Texas and a third is in Pennsylvania, as well as shelters housing unaccompanied minors.

As of June 25, at least 11 people at a family detention center in Karnes City, Texas, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to an independent report filed with the court. Four employees at another facility in Dilley — about 90 miles away — have also tested positive for the respiratory illness, and test results for residents there remain pending.

Meanwhile, an independent monitor and a physician who inspected ICE’s family detention centers reported earlier this month that given the infection rates in the counties where the Texas facilities are located, there is “even more cause for concern.”

Court documents show that as of June 8 there were 124 children in the three detention centers housed alongside family members. Another 507 children were in ORR shelters as of June 7.

The order essentially forces ICE to adhere to existing laws established in the Flores Settlement Agreement, which limits how long minors can be held in ICE custody.

Holly Cooper, co-director of the University of California, Davis Immigration Law Clinic and one of the lawyers representing Flores agreement class members, is elated by the latest ruling.

She says Gee’s decision could lead to the long-awaited the release of entire families. Some of whom have been living in which she called “horrific conditions” for more than a year.

Until now, ICE has been reluctant to release children held in family detention centers “because in order to do it in a humane way, they have to release the child with a parent,” Cooper said.

Instead, the Trump administration has offered families a binary choice: stay together in detention or allow the children to be transferred to a sponsor or family member somewhere in the U.S.

The problem is “ICE makes a real horrible guardian of children … and so far ICE has opted to keep children detained … during a global pandemic,” Cooper said.

But now, under pressure of the looming July 17 deadline, Cooper said, “What we’re hoping is that ICE will do the humane thing, and not separate any child from their parents because that’s what the children want. That’s what our class members want. That’s what the advocates want. That’s what the parents want.”

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