MK10ART painting: Keith Raniere will be the only one on trial - as all of his co-defendants have plead guilty. Some of them will be testifying against him.
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Trial update: Jury selection update & important issues judge must rule on this week

With just a little more than a week to go before the start of the trial in the case of the U.S. v. Raniere, the jury selection process is almost complete. But there are still several important issues that have to be resolved before the start of the trial on May 7th. ***** As Frank […]

With just a little more than a week to go before the start of the trial in the case of the U.S. v. Raniere, the jury selection process is almost complete.

But there are still several important issues that have to be resolved before the start of the trial on May 7th.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis has some tough decisions to make.

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As Frank Report readers will remember, the jury selection process began with the identification of 500 randomly-selected, potential jurors.

Those 500 people were required to fill out a lengthy questionnaire that had been developed by the prosecution, reviewed by the defense attorneys, and then finalized by the presiding judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.

Copies of the completed questionnaires were given to the defense attorneys and the prosecution team so that they could identify any jurors that they thought should be stricken from the jury pool “for cause”.

In this context, “for cause” includes jurors who may be inherently biased for one side or the other, jurors who could not be available for the 6-8 weeks that the trial is expected to last, etc.

Groups of potential jurors who had not been stricken “for cause” were brought in for follow-up interviews starting on Monday, April 22nd – and, one-at-a-time, were asked additional questions by Judge Garaufis in front of the attorneys for both sides.

Some of these potential jurors were then excused because of preexisting obligations or the potential hardship that being on the jury would cause for them. Others were excused because they had strong opinions on issues that might come up in the trial – like abortion – or because they had already heard about the case.

Finally, by the end of the day on Wednesday, April 24th, 55 potential jurors had made it through the interview process.

As reported by Amanda Holloway from Courthouse News, the plan now is to wait until May 6th – and then complete the selection of 12 jurors and 6 alternates.

During this last stage of the selection process, the defense attorneys will have 10 – and the prosecution will have 6 – peremptory challenges that they can use to strike anyone from being a juror or an alternate.

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District Court judges generally have some latitude in terms of how jurors are handled before, during and after trials.

In this case, Judge Garaufis has already ruled that this will be an “anonymous jury” – meaning that “the names of the jurors will not be provided by the Court to anyone [other than the defense and prosecution], whether before, during or after the trial”.

Although Judge Garaufis indicated that jurors will be free to speak to the media or anyone else after the trial is over, he also said he will advise them not to do that:

Judge Garaufis said, “I…always recommend to the jurors that at the end of the trial, whatever their verdict is, that they leave the courthouse and they forget about what happened and go back to, you know, their normal lives and not be subject to press and other interference, if you will, with their normal life activities”.

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Even though neither side made such a request, Judge Garaufis also decided that the jury in this case will be “semi-sequestered”.

What that means is that the members of the jury (and the alternates) will all meet at an undisclosed location prior to the start of each day of the trial.

From there, they will be escorted to the courthouse by U.S. Marshals – and brought in through an entrance that is not available to the general public or the media. The reverse process will be followed at the end of each day.

Although the judge said it appears the jurors on this case will not be in any actual danger, he opted to have them “semi-sequestered” in order to shelter them from the media or other interested parties.

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Over the course of this week, Judge Garaufis will be issuing rulings on several important matters.

These include the following:

(1) Will the prosecution be allowed to show pictures of the 15-year-old girl who was part of Raniere’s harem? As described by the prosecution, these pictures “are part of a collection including two digital images of a juvenile nude female exposing her vagina, including one in which the minor victim’s legs are open and her inner labia are visible”.

(2) Will witnesses for the prosecution be required to disclose their full names in open court – or will they be allowed to use just their first name or a pseudonym.

Clare Bronfman and Lauren Salzman – Two of the three members of NXIVM Corporation’s current Executive Board, they have both pleaded guilty to charges in connection to the case. Lauren is expected to testify against Keith Alan Raniere. Clare is not expected to testify. But that could change. 

 

Omar Boone of Monterrey Mexico. Boone is the third member of NXIVM Corporation’s current Executive Board

(3) Will the NXIVM Corporation – which is currently being run by Clare Bronfman, Lauren Salzman, and Omar Boone – be able to prevent the prosecution from introducing certain evidence because doing so would violate the company’s attorney-client privilege rights?

Rhiannon was repeatedly raped by Keith Raniere when she was 12-13 years old – and wants to testify about that.

(4) Will the woman who claims she was repeatedly raped by Raniere back in the 1990s – when she was 12-13 years old – be allowed to testify about those incidents?

 

Raniere still has followers in Mexico who would like to testify on his behalf. But they want to do so from Mexico. 

(5) Will the defense attorneys be allowed to introduce testimony from foreign witnesses via closed-circuit TV or will those witnesses be required to appear in person at the trial?

(6) Will the prosecution be allowed to utilize its designated expert witnesses even though those witnesses were identified after the deadline for identifying them?

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Stay tuned, readers…The show is about to start!

 

 


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Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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  • The more resources that a defendant has, the more likely it is that there will be a “designer” jury whose slant is pre-determined as much as is allowable. Do we call this a jury of one’s peers? Remember OJ Simpson? Remember his carefully selected jury of peers?

    Judge Garaufis is the one who will determine how he’ll apply law to those who have entered guilty pleas. Likely he will be weighing who is sincerely out of the cult and who is still actively into it. Certainly he recognizes the pragmatism behind the plea deals.

    And we wait to see what, if anything, the New York Northern district does with any of this. Will it be brushed under the rug, or will it be faced with true grit?

    Is a certain physician still working at a hospital in New York, the female physician who branded women without anesthesia for Raniere, for Mack, for DOS? Yes? So let’s not hold our breath while watching and waiting. It has been many, many decades by now that justice has been wearing sunglasses.

  • I look forward to the trial and I will be there when the jury acquits. And then the real day of reckoning will come

  • If the defense follows through with its claim that it doesn’t intend to put on a defense, the Mexico-based testimony is a moot point. I expect the DOJ will be able to use its experts to testify, as there has been adequate time for the defense to prepare and there are probably acceptable reasons for the late changes.

  • What is interesting in this case is the NXIVM Executive Board members being Lauren Salzman and Clare Bronfman. Having a board meeting in December of 2018 is interesting.

    Judge Garaufis has ordered both Salzman and Bronfman to not talk with NXIVM member without their attorney’s present. Did Judge Garaufis mean their legal counsel for their criminal defense or NXIVM legal counsel?

    Wouldn’t their criminal defense attorney does not know that the Judge’s order only regarded their legal matters and not to move NXIVM business matters forward?

    How would they have even pulled off such a request to have an Executive Board meeting? Clare Bronfman lives in NYC, Lauren Salzman lives in Albany NY.

    Wouldn’t they have to ask the court’s permission to travel to one location?

    If they had a phone meeting, is having their attorney’s on the phone during a business meeting what Judge Garaufis meant by “attorney’s present”?

    What will Judge Garaufis do regarding this matter when he finds out that Lauren Salzman and Clare Bronfman indeed used NXIVM’s or their criminal defense legal representation to move their business matters forward?

    Will this matter have an impact on their sentencing? Will he revoke their bail?

    • All good questions – but, unfortunately, I don’t have definitive answers for any of them.

      All I can say is that I think the December 2018 meeting of the Executive Board was most likely held telephonically – and that at least one criminal defense attorney for Clare or Lauren was on the phone. But that’s just because doing it that way would ensure that Lauren and Clare didn’t violate their bail conditions.

      I’m not sure what, if anything, the judge will do when this matter comes to his attention. But even if he determines that the meeting in question was conducted within the rules he had set, he probably won’t be happy that Lauren and Clare are apparently trying to help Raniere even after they’ve pleaded guilty in the case.

      • I don’t see how they violated the court order, assuming at least one attorney was present, including on the phone if it was held in that manner. Having a meeting does not equal helping Raniere, and it was held before they plead guilty.

  • KRClaviger – Please could you explain why the defence has more peremptory challenges than the prosecution?

    • The number of peremptory challenges is set by Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (The number varies depending on the level of the crime(s) but in this case, it is 10 for the defense and 6 for the prosecution). The judge can grant more peremptory challenges but any such increases will likely maintain the same 10/6 ratio).

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