By K . R. Claviger
Well, here we are, one week already gone by in 2019 – and awaiting more developments in the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al case. Right now, all we know for certain is that there will be another Status Conference – and some other case-related proceedings – taking place on Wednesday, January 9th.
With all the parties basically on holiday break for the last couple of weeks, there are now a significant number of unresolved matters pending before the presiding judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
(1) Defendants’ Pending Motions For Dismissal Of Charges
Each of the defendants – by themselves and/or in concert with one or more of their co-defendants – has filed a motion to request that some/all of the pending charges against them be dismissed. The prosecution has vigorously argued that none of those motions should be granted and that all the current charges should be part of the trial that is still scheduled to start on March 18th (More on that later).
At some point, Judge Garaufis will likely hear oral arguments on each of the pending motions for dismissal. Hopefully, we’ll get some clarification on this matter at this week’s hearing.
(2) Claims Of Attorney-Client Privilege
Despite numerous meetings and a plethora of correspondence, the defense attorneys and the prosecution have still not been able to reach agreement as to whether the following documents are entitled to attorney/client privilege: (a) communications between Clare Bronfman with various attorneys who were hired to assist foreign nationals in obtaining U.S. visas; (b) communications between Clare Bronfman, Kathy Russell and others with various foreign nationals who were trying to obtain U.S. visas; and (c) communications between Clare Bronfman and Keith Raniere with two attorneys in Mexico: Diego Ruiz Durán and Olmedo Gaxiola. Copies of all these communications were seized from Nancy Salzman’s former home back in March.
Judge Garaufis will be the one to decide whether any of the above-referenced communications are entitled to attorney/client privilege. Any such documents that he deems to be entitled to that privilege will not be admissible as evidence at the trial.
(3) Curcio Hearings
Because the prosecution has raised the question of whether there is an inherent conflict-of-interest in having all the attorneys representing Keith Raniere, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Allison Mack, and Kathy Russell paid for out of a Defense Trust Fund that was set up by Clare Bronfman just before she was arrested, Judge Garaufis will be conducting a Curcio Hearing for each of Clare’s co-defendants. During these hearings, each of those individuals will be asked a series of questions – and offered an opportunity to have the judge appoint another attorney to represent them from this point forward (Court-appointed attorneys have already been appointed to represent Keith, Nancy, Lauren, Allison and Kathy at the Curcio Hearings).
Oral arguments on this matter are scheduled to take place at 11:00 AM on January 9th.
(4) Use Of Defense Trust Funds For Witnesses
The prosecution has also raised questions concerning the use of the Defense Trust Fund to pay for attorneys to represent witnesses and potential witnesses. In this regard, the prosecution has suggested that Judge Garaufis conduct a limited voir dire of any such witness before they are allowed to testify at any proceeding or at trial (A voir dire is fancy lawyer language for a question-and-answer session).
Judge Garaufis has not yet ruled on this matter. He did, however, order the defense attorneys to provide him with the name of every individual and/or entity that has contributed to the Defense Trust Fund.
(5) More Contact With Members Of NXIVM
Clare Bronfman and Kathy Russell both asked the court to allow them to interact with members and former members of NXIVM (Per a previous ruling, they were prohibited from having contact with any current or former employees of – or independent contractors of – NXIVM unless they have obtained permission from the prosecution to do so). Although he ruled in their favor, Judge Garaufis has not yet decided exactly which NXIVM-related parties Clare and Kathy will be able to have contact with.
The defense attorneys have argued that Clare and Kathy should be able to interact with anyone who is not on the prosecution’s list of potential witnesses (This was obviously a ploy to find out the names of the government’s potential witnesses). The prosecution, in turn, has sought to prohibit them from having contact with (a) anyone who was on the “List Of NXIVM Coaches” as of March 2017; (b) anyone who they know or believe to be a current or former member of DOS; (c) anyone who they know or believe to have been employed by or to have worked as an independent contractor for NXIVM(or an affiliated entity) in the capacity of bookkeeping, accounting or video editing; and (d) anyone for whom a visa was sought based on an affiliation with a defendant or NXIVM (or an affiliated entity).
Judge Garaufis has not yet issued a final ruling with respect to these requests. Hopefully, he’ll issue a ruling before – or at – Wednesday’s hearing.
(6) Nancy Salzman’s Request For Modification of Bail Conditions
Nancy Salzman’s attorneys have moved to have her bail conditions modified to remove the current condition of home detention – and to replace it with a curfew from 9:00 PM until 7:00 AM. They have also agreed that Nancy continue to be subject to GPS monitoring on a 24/7 basis.
Although Judge Garaufis has not yet ruled on Nancy’s motion, he did agree to let Lauren Salzman’s keep visiting her mother from 9:00 AM-6:00 PM every day through February 8th. Presumably, he will cancel Lauren’s travels if Nancy is allowed to roam free during those same hours.
So, there are some of the issues that we should be getting rulings on from Judge Garaufis in the near future.
And for those of you who are growing antsy over the slow pace of events in this matter over the past few weeks, let me paraphrase President Trump’s recent advice for those who are upset over the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government: “Calm down – and enjoy the ride. The trial is currently scheduled to begin just 10 weeks from now!
PS: Anyone who believes that trial is going to start on March 18th is probably also looking forward to a visit from the Easter Bunny on April 21st.