Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Another Habeas Win Based on Exclusion of Defendant's Family Members from Courtroom

Smith v. Hollins, Docket No. 03-2250-pr (2d Cir. May 15, 2006) (McLaughlin, Sack, Koeltl (by desig'n)): This decision is but the latest in a long line of Second Circuit cases in which the Circuit has "expressed its strong devotion to the preservation of an individual's right to have family and friends present at his trial" and granted habeas based on the exclusion of the defendant's family members from the courtroom. Op. 13 (citing numerous cases from 1994 (Vidal v. Williams, 31 F.3d 67 (2d Cir. 1994)) to 2006 (Rodriguez v. Miller, 439 F.3d 68 (2d Cir. 2006) (click here for our discussion of Miller)). It is also further evidence that neither state courts nor state prosecutors pay any attention to the Second Circuit. In this case, in which the state trial occurred in 1997, the judge and the ADA should have known better than to exclude the defendant's brother and sister from the courtroom during the testimony of the state's two essential witnesses (the undercover who did the "buy" in this typical buy-and-bust case, and the "ghost" who shadowed him) based on nothing more than generalized speculation. E.g., Miller, Op. 13 ("[a]ny alleged threat posed by a family member to an undercover's safety or effectiveness must be established by more than mere speculation. Instead, the trial court must make a particularized inquiry into whether exclusion of the family member was necessary to advance an overriding interest.") (emphasis in original).

Here, the judge allowed Smith's mother, common-law wife, and child to remain in the courtroom but excluded his brother and sister. This distinction was arbitrary and the exclusion of Smith's siblings unjustified: His brother and sister lived in Queens while the underlying offense occurred in Bushwick (Brooklyn) and the undercover and ghost's present and future undercover activities were limited to areas in Brooklyn. Op. 15. Neither witness knew Smith's family, had been threatened by them, or had any reason to believe that they presented a danger to the witnesses' safety or future effectiveness as undercovers.

The Circuit also rejected the district court's alternative holding that any error in violating Smith's Sixth Amendment public-trial right was harmless, re-affirming that the "denial of a public trial is a 'structural' error . . . not subject to harmless error analysis." Op. 16 (quoting Peterson v. Williams, 85 F.3d 39, 42 (2d Cir. 1996)). The Circuit noted that, instead, "when addressing whether an unjustified closure is a Sixth Amendment violation, a 'triviality standard' is the proper benchmark." Op. 16. Those interested in this fascinating distinction will have to consult the opinion at pages 16 to 18 (E.g, "We affirm the conviction not because the Sixth Amendment error was harmless, but because the closure was so trivial as to not implicate the concerns and values of the Sixth Amendment" -- got it?). Suffice it to say that the Circuit held here that the exclusion of Smith's siblings was not a "trivial" violation of the Sixth Amendment, due not least in part to the fact that the undercover and the ghost were the state's two essential witnesses. Op. 17-18.

Rather than simply granting the writ, however, the Circuit remands the case to allow the district court to conduct a last-ditch effort (in the form of a hearing) to save the conviction (i.e., to see whether the evidentiary gap authorizing the siblings' exclusion can be closed). Op. 18 (citing Nieblas v. Smith, 204 F.3d 29 (2d Cir. 1999)). This remedy seems misguided and a waste of time, since the state trial court already conducted a full hearing on the same issue in which both the undercover and ghost testified. And their testimony was thorough and complete, even if insufficient to justify the exclusion of Smith's siblings. One gets the sense that the Court simply doesn't want to grant the writ because of the perceived "windfall," Op. 18, that Smith will receive. Judge Sack, in fact, explicitly states in a short concurrence that "the looming possibility of . . . the windfall of a new trial . . . is . . . a matter of concern" to him. Op. 21. This Blog suggests that maybe the Court should be more concerned about state judges and state prosecutors' ignorance, willful or otherwise, of well-established law.


Anonymous Scott Arthur Edwards said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! You really are very talented and deserve an honest compliment, congradulations! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a free testdrive online site/blog. It successfully covers free testdrive online related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time, Scott.

June 3, 2006 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger doron said...

here you can find Viagra the best solution for ED treatment ,
Viagra every 6 hours every day. Buy Viagra

yes or no Viagra

There are many online pharmacies were you can find

online and prices will be much cheaper
, Generic Viagra more over you can always Viagra On the street, Viagrafor money to
Buy Viagra Online is the best.viagra no prescription

In adition you can use Cheap Viagra you can buy Cheap Viagra online yes now you can buy Cheap Viagraor you can look forCialis for the same and some times Buy Cialis a longer lasting result!

Cialis in fact is similar to viagra in it’s affect.
Cialis is one of the most effective meal
Buy Cialis Online enhancement medications online ! Buy Cialis Online with most online pharmacies. Buy Phentermine Online it is a worldwide known drug Buy Phentermine Online
can be found on the web on numerous locations.
Buy Phentermine Online

More over yes now Buy Phentermine Online is known for it’s results
Xanax Online
is an anti anxiety medication Xanax is a short-acting drug
Buy Xanax is used to treat anxiety Buy Xanax online. best online pharmacy for you.

Vicodin Online narcotic analgesic product

Buy Vicodin relieve moderate to severe pain
Viagra Alternative You can find Buy Vicodin and
Buy Valium to treat anxiety disorders. Ultram on sale Ultram best price Ultram cheap pharmacy Ambien best price Cialis online today Cialis is known for it’s results Valium online sale Valium online sale Buy Valium
today Buy Xanax Online cheap prices Buy Xanax online today.

August 1, 2010 at 4:42 AM  
Blogger doron said...

Many pepole use Ambien Online Today.
viagra no prescription the popular insomnia relief,
viagra without prescription also no you can buy Cialis without prescription
yes it is true Cialis without prescription

is now available Viagra Online
Find the most competitive online Ambien
Online Pharmacies Ambien lowest prices Viagra is a semi-synthetic opioid Buy Phentermine Online naturally occurring opiates Buy Hydrocodone can be found online Hydrocodone is very effective !

Hydrocodone is an FDA approved medication.

Oxycodone narcotic pain-reliever.

Oxycodone Online for sensation of pain.

Oxycodone should be stored between 15 to 30 C
Buy Oxycodone relief of moderate to severe pain.
Oxycontin tablets is 5 to 30 mg every 4 hours. Buy Oxycontin
narcotic pain-relievers Oxycontin may lead to increased Levitra is formulated as orange Phentermine cross debossed on one side
Ambien only for you Ativan here also Oxycontin best price Adderall online sale Loeazepam for you Hydrocodone for pain Hydrocodone on sale today Buy Hydrocodone Online here. Buy Cialis online today Buy Phentermine Online big sale Buy Phentermine in UK pharmacy Buy Cialis cheapest prices Buy Valium today Hydrocodone Online pharmacy Adipex best offers Ambien online pharmacy Meridia best offer Buy Meridia trusted source Meridia online options Meridia best pharmacy Lorazepam best offer Alprazolam best choice accutane online here.

August 1, 2010 at 4:57 AM  
Blogger doron said...

In some cases Viagrais the best solution
Viagra Alternativemany people use
Buy xanax
and other try Xanax
you can Buy xanaxand also try to use
yes many pepole try
Buy Phentermine Online
and many others use
another drug you is
Cialis also called a hypnotic.
Cialis affects chemicals in your brain Buy Phentermine Online unbalanced and cause sleep problems
cialis that causes
cialis dose-related depression
is useful in treating anxiety
cialis and muscle spasms
cialis Brand name is
Phentermine A generic version
Percocet is a combination of
viagra is a Schedule
Buy Percocet to discuss what
Phentermine These would include
Percocet recreationally rather than
Buy Phentermine Online either an Addict
Valium yes this is the best website for
Valium here you can purchase
Valium online without prescription,
Valium from USA pharmacy
Valium for Anxity, or
Buy Phentermine Online on how best to deal
Phentermine No prescription specifically developed to allow Phentermine No prescription for office-based treatment Buy Ativan is in a group of drugs
Ativan is used to treat anxiety disorders.
Klonopin is in a group of drugs called benzodiazepines
Xanax online offers
Xanax online sale
Ambien best price
Ambien best choice Ativan also here Ativan No Prescription Klonopin best price Xenical best prices Ultram online pharmacy Ambien Online best price.

August 1, 2010 at 5:01 AM  
Blogger doron said...

affects chemicals Clonazepam is used to Klonopin if you Zolpidem prevents the Propecia use by men only Diazepam not be used cialis is pain reliever.
Cialis no prescription is the best.
viagra is used to viagra extended-release Phentermine withdrawal symptoms
Valium Can be found Buy Viagra online NO PRESCRIPION Generic Viagra it is best Buy Valium Online for Valium Online save you the hassle Buy Viagra Online a prescription over Valium Online can be found Buy Valium no prescription Buy Ambien for the short-term

Buy Levitra for the
Buy codeine narcotic pain-reliever .
codeine is morphine
codeine in the brain Acomplia new class Acomplia Cannabinoid-1 Phentermine Without Prescription online buy Xanax best prices Xanax worldwide delivery Xanax for the best Xanax at discount Xanax for anxity. Vicodin cheap prices Hydrocodone best solution Hydrocodone against pain Levitra online sale Tramadol online here Tramadol best prices Adipex online pharmacy Ambien right now
Ambien best prices Ambien best prices Buy Ambien Online discount pharmacy Buy Ambien save money Buy Adipex Online today Tramadol cheap online Vicodin online today Valium Online without prescription Cheap Cialis onlline today Cheap Cialis usa

August 1, 2010 at 5:08 AM  
Anonymous adobe acrobat x pro download said...

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.

November 9, 2011 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mhldixsbp [url=http://www.oakleymaxjp.com/]オークリー サングラス[/url] Axlabuyxg Wrsiilcci [url=http://www.oakleymaxjp.com/]オークリー アウトレット[/url] Liwwcziyg Tbkpmncof [url=http://www.oakleymaxjp.com/]オークリー ゴルフ[/url] Xzxdrilsd Jvvvtwbqa [url=http://www.oakleymaxjp.com/]オークリー メガネ[/url] Lwjhkcqrt Iastgktiu http://www.oakleymaxjp.com/ Iimenpxil

December 23, 2012 at 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


May 29, 2013 at 8:28 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home