Posted on August 22 2018
Manafort DC Trial & pretrial motions
There’s a saying, always know your local rules, always. Why? Because in the Federal Court System, rules governing both civil and criminal rules can vary from district to district. As such, Judges will issue orders and subsequently reference “local rules”.
Case in point, shortly after Paul Manafort made his October 2017 Intitial Appearance in DC Court, Manafort’s defense attorney, Kevin Downing made the following comments outside of District Court in an impromptu Press Briefing. The DC Judge was not amused by Mr. Downing’s (I don’t know what else to call it) Grand Standing literally on the DC Courthouse steps.
Accordingly Judge Berman-Jackson issued what’s colloquially known as a GAG Order, for you docket wonks the Gag Order is document number 38, open source link to Order found here. The Order which reads in part:
All interested participants in the matter, including the parties, any potential witnesses, and counsel for the parties and the witnesses, are hereby ORDERED to refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case... (emphasis added)
Notice how the Judge clearly references “local rule 57.7(c)? I suppose it would make sense to show you what local rule 57.7(c) states, see link to DC Circuit Federal Civil & Criminal Rules of Procedure found here. Specifically I now refer you to pages 159 to 161. Which reads in part:
ORDERS IN WIDELY PUBLICIZED OR SENSATIONAL CASES.
In a widely publicized or sensational criminal case, the Court, on motion of either party or on its own motion, may issue a special order governing such matters as extrajudicial statements by parties, witnesses and attorneys likely to interfere with the rights of the accused to a fair trial by an impartial jury, the seating and conduct in the courtroom of spectators and news media representatives, the management and sequestration of jurors and witnesses, and any other matters which the Court may deem appropriate for inclusion in such an order.
You are probably wondering why I am bringing up a November 2017 Order. Allow me to explain on May 31, 2018 it was widely reported that “friends of Paul Manafort” created a legal defense fund website, see original entry here. See the archived link of Manafort’s Legal Defense fund, found here. There are a few questions I have as it relates to Manafort’s Legal Defense Fund:
1) see that P.O. Box? That P.O. Box is listed as the mailing address for Kathleen & Andrea Manafort for the various mortgages and real estate property, you can run a records search via this NYC ACRIS Link.
2) I’m curious why the Special Counsel hasn’t brought this Manafort Legal Defense Fund website to the Court’s attention. Given the news scroll and “updates” and “breaking news”
3) there’s nothing on this website that ensures that zero “foreign monies” will be accepted. Conversely if you look at Gen Mike Flynn’s legal Defense Fund, it very clearly states:
Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents may contribute. Any donations that are identified as originating with foreign nationals will be declined or refunded. Some donors could be subject to gift taxes in connection with donations. Donors should consult their tax advisors for more information.
But the followimg questions remain:
Is Paul Manafort’s Legal Defense Fund permissible?
Is his website running a foul of the November 2017 Gag Order?
Who is running the website, who is donating to Manafort’s Legal defense fund?
I don’t have the answers to my own questions but I do believe Manafort’s legal defense fund should be more closely scrutinized by the Media, the Courts and the Government. I also think that Trump’s Patriot Legal Defense Irrevocable Trust should also be scrutinized too. See link here.
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