We have a federal case out of the Northern District of Indiana that we were retained on within the last month, I want to say, and we’ve been working quite a bit on it.
It’s a plea, like most of our other federal cases (except the one child porn/transportation of a minor for purposes of sexual contact that’s going to trial in June), and we’re starting to get our ducks in a row for that. We’re signing off on a waiver of arraignment as the first step, and we’re in talks with the AUSA about what they’re going to charge our client with, precisely, and so on. At this point, we’re all still waiting on full forensics.
But before all that, we had a detention hearing at the federal courthouse in Hammond, Indiana. Our client has been in custody since ICE agents picked him up, and so the first-first step was to get him out.
We showed up for the detention hearing and were handed a last-minute addendum by PreTrial Services literally five minutes before the proceedings were supposed to be underway. We read through as quickly as we could, noted the changes, made our edits, discussed them quickly with our client, who sat in his orange jumpsuit and double shackles between us, and then the judge came in and the hearing was on.
It went very smoothly. We caught all the right edges. The witness was great – on direct and on cross. The government opposed our position, obviously, but relied mostly on argument and didn’t put on any witnesses. Our client handled himself very well in a very stressful situation, and the judge took note of that, even mentioning it in his ruling when listing the reasons that formed the basis of his decision.
Long story short: we won. We caught all the right edges and we won. It is very, very rare to win one of these, so it was a great moment. Obviously, there’s no cheering or high-fiving in situations like this. You just savor the win for a second and swallow it and move along because the real work is just beginning.
We were very happy to be able to secure his release on bond, and he’s supposed to be officially released early next week, because these things can take a while as all the different people involved get the paperwork together and sort everything out. It’s a process, but the important thing is that he’s out for now.
Over the next several months, we’ll be working on the plea agreement and sentencing. I’ll be up to my eyeballs in Guidelines calculations, which will be fun, even though I’m kind of being sarcastic when I say that. It will be fun because I don’t get to play with the Sentencing Guidelines that often. I’m being sarcastic only because … the Guidelines are complicated and intricate and I know, with my anal retentive tendencies, I’m just going to be meticulous when I go through it all, so it’ll take a good chunk of time. But that’s okay.
But that detention hearing was something I’ll remember for a long time. It was tense and we went in expecting to lose … and we pulled it out. It made it even sweeter because they’re so.damn.hard to win. Especially in Indiana. It really was an incredibly memorable occasion, probably not least of all because of the unexpected win. But it’s always a rush to sit a federal courthouse and take meetings with AUSAs and answer the Judge’s questions and put on that kind of show. A total rush. I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real, that I’m an attorney of record in federal proceedings. Federal criminal practice is just the best. Even when you go in absolutely certain that you’re going to lose.
So anyway, all that sunshine and light aside, our boy is out.
And now we get to work on the plea, and getting him the lowest sentence we possibly can. It’s going to be a long, stressful, exhausting ordeal, but that’s the way it goes.
It’s a good thing that I never fail to summon up a ton of energy and enthusiasm for shit like this. To say nothing, of course, of my boss, Raymond Wigell, who has been doing this for almost forty years. I’m thrilled that we’re in this together.