Citing all the pre-trial matters that are still unresolved, the prosecution in the case of the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al has requested a 2-week delay in the start of the trial.
If granted, this would push the “start date” back to May 13th.
The presiding judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, has ordered the attorneys for the three remaining defendants – Keith Raniere, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell – to advise him as to their position on the request by 4:00 PM today.
Raniere’s lawyers, March Agnifilo and Teny Geragos, were the first to respond – and they, as expected, objected strenuously to the proposed delay.
The reasons cited by Agnifilo and Geragos for their opposition are as follows:
(1) They have another “very serious trial with an incarcerated client” that is due to start in the District of Utah on July 29, 2019;
(2) They allege that the prosecution is still gathering trial evidence – and scheduling trial witnesses – via newly-issued grand jury subpoenas, a practice that is generally not allowed (No proof whatsoever was offered for this allegation);
(3) The government’s explanation that one reason for its request is that the defense attorneys are not reviewing documents quickly enough is meritless; and
(4) When the court has turned down other requests for delays – like Allison’s request for a 30-day extension to consider taking a plea deal – it has forced the parties to act in a timely manner.
In its request, the prosecution pointed out that because it has already obtained guilty pleas from Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and Allison Mack, it will be able to streamline its case – and ensure that the trial is concluded by the end of June (That’s what the court has already informed prospective jurors).
The prosecution did not point out that four of the counts in the case have also been dismissed – and referred to the Northern District of New York for prosecution – which should also reduce the amount of time that the trial will take.
Prior to submitting its request, the prosecution contacted the attorneys for Raniere, Bronfman, and Mack to determine their position on the matter.
According to the prosecution, Raniere’s attorneys objected, Russell’s attorneys took no position, and Bronfman’s attorneys did not respond.
Although Judge Garaufis has been pushing hard for this trial to start on April 29th, a short delay would not seem to cause any significant harm to any of the defendants.
Still, the judge may simply decide to split the difference – and push the trial back to start on May 6th.
Judge Garaufis is also expected to issue his decision on Kathy Russell’s pending Motion To Dismiss later today or tomorrow.
Based on my review of the various filings, I think it is highly likely he will rule in favor of the prosecution on this matter.
Once that happens, Kathy’s attorneys will likely push her to reconsider a plea deal.
If she comes to her senses and takes such a deal, then the only defendants left will be Keith and Clare.
One of the reasons why Raniere’s attorneys may be opposing any delay is because they do not want any more plea deals to take place.
It would have been one thing for the Vanguard to have been seated at the defense table with his loyal crew of women right there with him.
But the thought of Vanguard just sitting there with Clare Bronfman – or, worse yet, all by himself – is not a very pleasant contemplation for his attorneys.
Especially not when they also take into consideration that all those former co-defendants will be taking the stand to testify against him.