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Client Freed from Illegal Sentence

October 30, 2018

Happy November!   We are thankful to share with you how we were able to save taxpayers thousands of dollars and bring justice to our client, who was severely wronged by the court on 4 counts.     In 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C), long before we were her attorneys, a Middle Eastern woman, pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of conspiracy to smuggle aliens into the United States.  She was sentenced by a federal judge to 10 years’ prison with an additional 10 years of supervised release.   Our client’s attorney at the time and the prosecution both agreed to this plea deal while the judge imposed the sentence.  Somehow, neither the defense lawyer, prosecution, judge, nor probation officer realized the glaring oversight in this agreement: the statute for which our client was charged declares that the maximum period of supervised release is only three years, seven years less than the period our client was given.  As a result, our client was expected to sacrifice seven years of her freedom to promote the carelessness of a skewed justice system.   While she was in prison, our client filed multiple pro se (without counsel) motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to be released based upon the ground that her sentence was imposed in violation of her Constitutional rights.  In her motions, our client argued that she should be released because her counsel was ineffective and deficient, her sentence was greater than necessary, and that she was never even shown the plea deal.  Each motion was denied.   She solicited several attorneys, none of whom would take her concerns seriously. Then, when she was just out of prison, she came to us. Our client wanted someone who was not afraid to challenge the government. Based on our reputation, she knew she came to the right place.   What our client did not know at the time was that her sentence was not only unreasonable, but it was also illegal. Our task, then, was to determine how best to remedy her situation. We determined three potential options: 1) file a successive motion under 28 USC § 2255; 2) seek a habeas writ under 28 USC § 2241(c); or 3) seek a writ of coram nobis.   Because our client had already filed at least two motions under § 2255, we were procedurally blocked from filing another 2255 motion. We could have argued that the motion was timely because the illegality of the sentence was only recently discovered, but the Court was extremely unlikely to accept this premise. The same was true of seeking a writ of habeas corpus. Our best option was thus to seek a writ of coram nobis.  A writ of coram nobis allows the federal judge who imposed the original sentence to set aside the existing conviction and sentence which, for a valid reason, should never have been entered.     In order to seek a writ of coram nobis, one must satisfy four conditions, the last of which is proving that there exists an error of “fundamental character” with the original conviction or sentence. The error for our client was clear–her sentence exceeded the maximum term of supervised release authorized by law, however, we […]

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Terrorists Should Be Read Their Miranda Rights, Too

Terrorists Should Be Read Their Miranda Rights, Too

November 16, 2017

Terrorists who commit crimes on American soil are not foreign soldiers.  To treat them as soldiers is to dignify them in a way they don’t deserve—as part of something larger—a nation state at war with American ideals and America itself.  Instead, they are criminals deserving the same and no more respect than that afforded by the Constitution.  To treat them as soldiers reinforces the false notion that Islam and America are at war, perpetuates rifts that plague our society, and further incentivizes radicals.  We must not buy into the rhetoric of a global religious war—us against them—and sacrifice the very principles and ideals that serve as the very foundation of our nation—including the right to remain silent and the right to counsel in a criminal case.  If we abandon these—our values, our commitment to freedom and fairness—then we might as well give up and let these terrorists win. In the wake of the TriBeCa car attack on October 31st, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, along with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called for Sayfullo Saipov to be labeled and held as an “enemy combatant.”  To their disappointment the Trump administration didn’t take such action and the Acting U.S. Attorney in Manhattan instead formally charged Saipov under federal criminal law.  When someone is held as an enemy combatant, he is not afforded the same rights as everyone else charged under the federal criminal code, and he may never be formally charged and Mirandized.  Advocates of enemy combatant labeling believe that reading a suspected terrorist Miranda rights, and have him potentially invoke his right to an attorney and remain silent, will impede the United States from properly interrogating him and gathering beneficial information on others.  While there is always the risk of lawyering up, there is  strong evidence to suggest that torture doesn’t work as an interrogation tool. The Bush Administration, after 9/11, held suspected terrorists as enemy combatants as part of the “war on terror” against al Qaeda.  With this policy, President Bush stretched the definition of “war” and manipulated it to suit a dubious agenda that included torture and having White House lawyers attempt to justify it, as well as conducting warrantless searches on Americans, despite having the opportunity to use a secret court, FISA, set up specifically for obtaining warrants without opposition.  By labeling the hostility with al Qaeda as a “war” within the larger context of the “War on Terror,” Bush then claimed that domestic criminal law would not suffice for proper prosecution of al Qaeda’s agents, aka “terrorists.”  President Bush also claimed that the “war” with al Qaeda was a special type of war and therefore adherence to the rules set by the Geneva Convention of 1949, which contain rules limiting the barbarity of war, was unnecessary. The legality of holding suspected terrorists claiming ISIS affiliation, like Saipov, as “enemy combatants” is further questionable because ISIS, unlike al Qaeda, isn’t covered by the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, which Congress authorized to be carried out exclusively against those involved with the 9/11 attacks and any “associated forces.”  ISIS was not associated with al-Qaeda and had no part in the 9/11 attack, as it didn’t exist in 2001.  The policy of holding suspected terrorists as enemy combatants, however, […]

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Court Victory Against the IRS

August 24, 2016

A 6-year long ordeal for our client finally ended when a federal jury found him Not Guilty of All Charges last month. In previous newsletters we discussed how this client was tried and wrongfully convicted due to the testimony of a lying government witness. We fought to get him a new trial and succeeded when the federal District Court judge presiding over the case agreed with our view that the verdict was a “manifest injustice.” The government then appealed the judge’s decision granting a new trial to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. We defended our client in the appellate court and won there too. Yet, despite our victories before the District Court and in the Second Circuit, the IRS kept going after our innocent client. Statistically, the IRS wins 99.75% of all cases they bring so they decided to try him again last month. We were there again to fight for him. After three weeks of trial, the jury deliberated less than 2 hours and cleared our client of all charges. Though statistically, we only had a .25% chance of winning, we prevailed and our client finally got the justice he deserved.   Defense team outside the Eastern District of New York Courthouse after our win. From Left: Joseph Caiazzo; Vinoo Varghese; our Client; Dennis Ring; & Katie Lanphere. Articles fromLaw360 about the trial win and our prior appellate victory can be found on our firm’s press page here. Special mentions and thanks are due to co-counsel Dennis Ring, our resident sage, Larry Sharpe, and our forensic accounting expert, David Gannaway.

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