Kevin Spacey makes first court appearance to face sex-crime charge – USA TODAY

Kevin Spacey stood in a Massachusetts courtroom Monday to face a sex-crime charge that he groped a teenage busboy in a bar on Nantucket Island in 2016. He did not voice his expected plea of not guilty but it was entered on his behalf, and the judge set his next court date for March 4. 

But first Spacey, 59, faced a massive media scrum of cameras of the sort he’s been avoiding for more than a year, both coming into and leaving the courthouse. 

The two-time Oscar-winning actor had said in court documents he would plead not guilty to a charge of felony indecent assault and battery.

Under Massachusetts court rules, a defendant can waive the reading of the complaint at arraignment, which Spacey did, and a plea can be entered on his behalf by his lawyer. Spacey himself did not have to say the words “not guilty.”

Spacey arrived in the tiny courtroom jammed with media people, wearing a suit, tie and sweater vest, looking tired and unsmiling. He said nothing, but mouthed “thank you” at the conclusion of the hearing.

Judge Thomas Barrett ordered Spacey to have no contact with his accuser or his accuser’s family, and he was released. He also ruled Spacey did not have to personally appear for the March hearing, but said he needs to be available by phone.

No bail was sought but he was warned that if he is accused of a similar crime, Spacey could be imprisoned for 90 days without bail. 

The judge granted a request by Spacey’s lawyers to preserve the accuser’s cellphone data for six months after the alleged assault. Spacey defense lawyer Alan Jackson said there is data that is “likely exculpatory” for Spacey.

Spacey and his lawyers declined to comment as they left the courthouse amid a crush of reporters.

Adam Citron, a New York lawyer who is familiar with Massachusetts criminal law, said it appearedthat the state intends to treat Spacey like any other criminal defendant. 

“He’s not getting any preferential treatment, they’re treating him like anyone else,” Citron said. “And it’s interesting that the prosecutors are treading lightly in that they didn’t ask for bail other than stay away from the complainant. They’re being very conservative (in their approach).”

Spacey’s arraignment on the charge comes more than a year after former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh accused the ex “House of Cards” star of sexually assaulting her son, then 18, in the crowded Club Car restaurant bar where the teen worked as a busboy in the summer of 2016.

Going in and out of the courthouse, Spacey walked a gauntlet of bellowing reporters and photographers, but inside the courtroom there was no drama. 

About 20 minutes before the proceeding was to start, network TV cameras on helicopters and drones were trained on and following a car they said was carrying Spacey to the courthouse from the local airport. 

When he got to the courthouse door, there were so many cameras around him he was hard to see. 

The media’s mission: to capture Spacey’s “perp walk,” the first official images of the shamed star since he disappeared from public view more than a year ago as multiple men came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct dating back decades and crossing multiple jurisdictions. 

Neither Spacey nor his lawyers, Los Angeles-based Jackson and local lawyer Juliane Balliro, spoke to the media before or after the arraignment. As Spacey left the courthouse, he ignored the shouted questions from the media. 

Spacey had sought to avoid this scene, insisting he didn’t need to be physically present to enter a plea. His lawyers filed a motion to seeking approval for Spacey to skip appearing in person at his arraignment to avoid tainting a potential jury pool before trial. 

Spacey’s team argued in court papers that his presence “will amplify the negative publicity already generated in connection with this case.”

But Judge Barrett denied the motion without explaining his reasons. Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s office weighed in by arguing against excusing Spacey, citing Rule 7 of the state criminal code. 

Although Spaceyhas been accused by more than a dozen men of sexual misconduct, the Nantucket charge, revealed at the end of December 2018, is the first and so far sole criminal charge against him. (He is still under investigation in Los Angeles and London.)

It also makes him only the second man to be criminally charged out of dozens of entertainment and media figures who have been accused of sexual misconduct since October 2017 and the subsequent surge of the #MeToo movement.

Spacey’s lawyers and publicists say he has consistently denied any non-consensual sex with anyone. Aside from a statement he issued apologizing to his first accuser, actor Anthony Rapp, and also coming out as gay, Spacey has said nothing to the media.

But after the charge against him became public on Dec. 24, within hours Spacey posted a baffling video of himself on YouTube in which he pretended to be his “House of Cards” character, Frank Underwood, and suggested people should not believe “the worst without evidence.”

Spacey’s video brought a surge of mocking, outraged tweets from celebs and non-celebs alike. “Creepy,” pronounced actress Alyssa Milano, an outspoken activist in the #MeToo movement. Lawyers questioned whether Spacey’s move was rash legally speaking, while public relations experts wondered if he had done himself more harm than good in the court of public opinion. 

Few of the #MeToo accused have suffered as precipitous a fall as Spacey. His life, career and reputation were shattered in the days after Rapp publicly accused him of attempted statutory rape in Spacey’s New York apartment in 1986 when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 27.

Spacey was subsequently fired from his starring role in “House of Cards,” was edited out of a major movie, lost a deal to make a Gore Vidal bio-pic, was accused of sexual misconduct by 20 people at London’s Old Vic theater where he was artistic director for more than a decade, and came under investigation by police in multiple jurisdictions. Eventually he fled to a sex-addiction rehab center in Arizona, where paparazzi snapped surreptitious pictures of him. 

Then he disappeared from public view, only to turn up last week in a luxury townhouse in Baltimore’s pricey Inner Harbor (“House of Cards” was made in Baltimore), where a tabloid photographer captured pictures of him in a baseball cap reading “Retired since 2017.” Spacey bought the photographer a Domino’s pizza and told him to “have a happy New Year.” 

The Nantucket case emerged in November 2017 when Unruh called a press conference in Boston to accuse Spacey of getting her son drunk and sticking his hands down his pants in the restaurant bar where her son was working as a busboy in the summer of 2016.

On Monday, Unruh’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, emailed a statement on behalf of Unruh’s son, declining to comment on the criminal case but praising Spacey’s accuser.

“By reporting the sexual assault, my client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted. My client is leading by example,” Garabedian’s statement said.

The investigation of Unruh’s son’s allegation was conducted by the Massachusetts State Police. On Dec. 20, at a probable-cause hearing in Nantucket District Court, a local magistrate heard evidence presented by the state police – and cross-examined by Spacey’s lawyer – and ruled there was enough to proceed with charging Spacey. 

Among the evidence presented: A three-minute phone video shot by the accuser who told police it showed Spacey groping him, and that he sent it to his girlfriend via Snapchat who confirmed she saw it before it disappeared. 

Jackson elicited testimony from an investigator who conceded that the video didn’t show it was Spacey’s hand touching the front of someone’s pants.

Testimony also showed that the accuser lied to Spacey about his age, that he drank with Spacey even though he was too young to drink, that he approached Spacey first in the bar, that he exchanged phone numbers with Spacey, and that he did not move away or tell Spacey to stop for up to three minutes while he was allegedly being groped.

If convicted, Spacey faces up to five years in prison.

Contributing: The Associated Press 

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Questions surface over Kevin Spacey’s ‘secret court’ hearing – The Boston Globe

Questions surface over Kevin Spacey’s ‘secret court’ hearing
Globe Staff
Before Monday’s arraignment, the actor’s lawyers were given a special opportunity to have his case reviewed in a mini-trial-type setting where records are kept out of public view.
By Matt Rocheleau

Kevin Spacey in 2016.

The Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey has tried to limit publicity about recent sexual-assault charges against him, and officials in the Massachusetts judiciary seem largely to have refused him preferential treatment.

But the Globe has found that in the months leading up to his arraignment — set for Monday — the actor’s lawyers were given a special opportunity to have his case reviewed in a mini-trial-type setting where potential charges can be dropped and records kept out of public view.

Such hearings — overseen by clerk magistrates and typically closed to the public — have been the focus of recent Globe Spotlight Team investigations into this often-hidden part of the state’s criminal justice system.


Even though Spacey’s lawyers failed at that Dec. 20 hearing to derail the criminal case before arraignment, questions remain about why his attorneys were given the opportunity in the first place — and who initiated the idea.

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These proceedings, called “show-cause” hearings, are used primarily to assess if there is enough evidence to bring charges, and suspects have a legal right to these hearings only in misdemeanor cases. Spacey, however, was facing a felony charge.

Questions about this aspect of Spacey’s legal proceedings come as the 59-year-old actor — known for his roles in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and the films “American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects” — faces more than a dozen sexual-assault accusations in numerous cities.

His current case in Nantucket, in which he is expected to plead not guilty, surfaced in November 2017.

It began when a former Boston TV anchor, Heather Unruh, announced at a press conference that Spacey had met her then-18-year-old son at the Club Car bar on the island in 2016, bought alcohol for him until he was drunk, and sexually assaulted him by sticking his hand inside the teenager’s pants.

In November 2017, Heather Unruh discussed the allegations that her son was allegedly sexually assaulted by Kevin Spacey. Unruh with her lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, and her daughter, Kyla.


Prosecutors vowed to talk to the alleged victim, and for months last year, State Police troopers assigned to the office of Cape and Island District Attorney Michael O’Keefe quietly investigated.

A spokeswoman for O’Keefe’s office said that a state trooper traveled to Nantucket District Court on Sept. 20 and presented the written results of his investigation to the presiding clerk, Donald Hart. As with other felony charges in District Court, the trooper was required to get the clerk’s sign-off in order for Spacey to be formally charged in a public arraignment. For felonies, it is typically a review of the paperwork that outlines the main evidence.

Nantucket District Court is located on the second floor of the downtown Nantucket Town & County Building.

The trooper’s application for a criminal complaint showed he had interviewed the complainant and others with whom he had spoken that night about the alleged assault, as well as viewed a brief Snapchat video of the alleged incident.

But, prosecutors say, clerk magistrate Hart raised questions about whether Unruh’s son may have agreed in some way to a sexual encounter and wanted to speak to him.

“After reviewing the materials for a time, Magistrate Hart indicated he had questions concerning the issue of consent and wanted to hear from the complaining witness and would require a show cause hearing,” Assistant District Attorney Tara L. Miltimore said in an e-mail.


She insisted it was Hart — and never the trooper — who requested the hearing.

Miltimore did not answer questions about whether the trooper or anyone else from that office openly objected to Hart’s allegedly ordering a hearing.

Miltimore also said the trooper told the clerk the alleged victim was studying abroad and would not be available until December.

Spacey’s show-cause hearing stands out because he was facing a felony charge of indecent assault and battery. Massachusetts court rules set a higher bar for such serious charges to get a more informal — and typically closed — clerk magistrate hearing, saying they can be ordered only if police request it.

Typically in these proceedings, the clerks — many of whom do not have law degrees — are reviewing evidence supplied by police against someone who has not been arrested. Often, in a particularly controversial part of their work, they try to work out mediation-like settlements, in return for dismissing the case.

Hart, a former attorney in Weymouth and Holbrook who was appointed to his $155,000-a-year clerk magistrate post about five years ago, declined to speak to the Globe about the case.

“I’m not going to talk about it,” said Hart, who retired in mid-December.

Other top court officials declined to comment, citing the case as a pending matter. Another clerk magistrate, Brian Kearney, who ultimately held the hearing because of Hart’s retirement, told the Globe that he was told by Hart that it was the police who requested the hearing.

Spacey’s attorneys, Boston lawyer Juliane Balliro and Los Angeles lawyer Alan Jackson, did not respond to requests for comment.

Court records seem to back up the prosecutor’s account. The application for the criminal complaint, filled out by the principal investigator, TrooperGerald Donovan, does not show he checked any of the available boxes indicating a request for such a hearing.

As of last fall, the issue of these private clerk-magistrate hearings was starting to get substantial public attention.

In late September, The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team began publishing investigative stories that raised questions about this part of the criminal justice system, in which clerks operate largely in private and dismiss thousands of cases even when they find probable cause to charge someone. Many clerks, however, defend the system as a way for baseless charges to be weeded out, without stigmatizing the accused with unwanted publicity.

In the fall, the Globe filed a lawsuit against the heads of the trial court, asking that the files in cases in which probable cause was found but the charges were dismissed be made public. A justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, David Lowy, held a hearing on the case Dec. 27. Last week, he asked the parties for additional information and has yet to rule.

Boston, MA - 10/04/18 - John Adams Courthouse. It is home to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter: () Topic: ()

Some clerks who defend the system say their hearings focus on minor cases, but data show that one of eight cases involved felonies, including attempted murder, rape, and kidnapping.

Court guidelines say clerks should consider opening the hearings to the public in high-profile cases to promote trust in the system. But the Globe found a number of cases against public officials — and even a judge — in which the “show cause” hearings were closed and the requests for charges were dismissed.

Spacey’s hearing was held Dec. 20, and there is no indication that anyone other than his lawyers, the trooper, and the alleged victim and his family were in the Nantucket courtroom.

An audio recording of that 36-minute hearing includes the clerk, Kearney, saying at some point that the hearing was “public.” Kearney typically works in Natick District Court but was assigned to handle the Spacey hearing and other matters that day because of Hart’s retirement.

Speaking by phone Friday, Kearney said he declared it “public” on his own that day — despite no advance public notice of the event — because it was “a high-profile case.”

During the hearing, the alleged victim was presentbut was never called by Kearney to testify. Kearney oversaw what amounted to an informal discussion and a review of evidence, including hearing from the trooper and Spacey’s lawyers.

Kearney ruled there was enough evidence to issue a sexual-assault charge and scheduled an arraignment. Once that happened, Spacey’s case fully entered the public realm — where virtually all court documents are required to be public and future proceedings are listed on a public court calendar.

Spacey’s attorneys tried to rush his arraignment at the hearing’s conclusion, saying the actor was on the island and could make his initial court appearance that afternoon. Kearney told them no judge was available and denied the request.

Spacey’s criminal charges became public only after the Globe received a tipster’s phone call and scrambled to verify that through calls, including to the Nantucket courthouse. Efforts to find online court records were hampered by the fact Spacey is listed under his legal name, Kevin Fowler.

On Dec. 24, District Attorney O’Keefe
confirmed to the Globe that charges against Spacey had been issued.

Spacey’s lawyers subsequently asked a District Court judge if the actor could be spared a public arraignment, saying the publicity would be prejudicial. But once the case was
beyond the clerk-magistrate hearing, there would be little precedent for allowing Spacey to avoid public scrutiny. The request was denied.

His arraignment is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday in Nantucket District Court.

Todd Wallack of the Globe staff contributed to this report. He can be reached at Matt Rocheleau can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mrochele.
The Spotlight Team’s coverage of the private clerk-magistrate system is at

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China officials not required to tell Hong Kong about arrest, says Cheung – South China Morning Post

Chinese court officers did not have to notify the Hong Kong government about the arrest of a local traveller at the West Kowloon rail station the city’s chief secretary said on Saturday, as pressure mounted on him to explain if officials were told about the move.

The comments by Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the city’s No 2 official, sparked concern among lawmakers that a notification system between Hong Kong and its mainland counterparts, regarding law enforcement at the station, allowed the latter to detain Hongkongers for reasons other than criminal matters, while keeping local authorities in the dark.

Cheung was referring to a mainland media report that a Hong Kong resident, surnamed Lung, who was wanted by a Shenzhen court, was arrested in the city by mainland court officials in October, after being stopped by immigration officers.

On Saturday, Cheung dodged media questions over whether the Hong Kong government had been told about the incident. But, he said the case did not fall under a previously agreed arrangement between the two sides, because Lung was not wanted in relation to a criminal investigation.

“Instead, it was some mainland court officials, working like Hong Kong bailiffs executing a court order, so the incident did not require notifications under the mechanism,” he said.

According to Nanfang Daily, Lung had failed to return 1 million yuan (US$145,450) to a former buyer of his house in a Nanshan District Court ruling over a dispute in 2015.

A Security Bureau spokesman said under the existing mechanism, mainland authorities should notify the Hong Kong government when a local resident is subject to “criminal compulsory measures”, or dies an unnatural death.

Mainland China will only be charged HK$1,000 per year for high-speed rail terminus

Criminal compulsory measures include detention, arrest, release on bail, and residential surveillance of suspects of criminal offences, the customs department, and mainland public security authorities, are among those groups involved in the information-sharing arrangement.

Under the joint checkpoint arrangements at the station, national laws are applied in the mainland port area, but pan-democrats have long argued the arrangement contravenes the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

The Basic Law states that no mainland Chinese law shall apply on Hong Kong soil, except for those relating to defence, foreign affairs and “other matters outside the limits” of the city’s autonomy.

Pro-democracy lawmakers are not happy with the answers over the notification system, which does not include “administrative detention”, which is a common practice on the mainland before a criminal investigation is lodged.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan blasted officials for being irresponsible. She said the cooperation arrangement stated who could enforce the law at the West Kowloon station, but it appeared that anyone could come and exercise their powers.

“Hong Kong is like a doorless chicken coop,” Chan said. “How do you know who they are? Hong Kong is not familiar with which kind of laws are enforced by which mainland officials.”

Chan added that when mainland immigration officers stopped the local resident, they should have reported it to the Hong Kong government.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun noted that the existing mechanism did not cover detention arising from civil proceedings, as was the case with Lung.

He said if someone was detained under such a procedure, and would not be released unless they divulged certain information, or paid money, the Hong Kong government should also be told.

Has West Kowloon joint checkpoint case opened an ‘even larger loophole’?

Chang Boyang, a civil rights lawyer on the mainland, agreed that the detention of Lung was not one of the criminal compulsory measures, according to descriptions in the newspaper’s report.

“He was involved in a civil case, and his movement was restricted under the court’s order,” Chang said.

“Such border control is usually an administrative measure. The purpose of this measure is to prevent people running from their unfinished duties before the court.”

Hong Kong’s criminal lawyers also found no problem with court bailiffs stopping, or removing Hong Kong residents in the area, as it is under mainland jurisdiction.

Criminal lawyer Stephen Hung Wan-shun said under the mainland court system, a debtor would have to comply with court order and ran the risk of their movement being restricted if they did not repay the money.

Hung said based on a past visit to China’s top court, the country had built a nationwide network to enforce court orders, and any movement of an individual involved could be instantly detected.

“A mainland judge could make an order that an individual is not allowed to leave a province, or not purchase ship or plane tickets,” Hung said.

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State police arrest suspended lawyer accused of threatening R.I. judge – The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE — A suspended lawyer was released on personal recognizance Friday after a state police detective told a judge that the man had sent threatening emails to the Supreme Court’s chief disciplinary counsel, writing that he should have “bombed that place” and that a Supreme Court justice should “just be shot in the face.”

“That’s just how it is,” the suspended 36-year-old lawyer, Nicholas Gelfuso, wrote in the same email, according to the presentation made by the detective in District Court, Providence.

Gelfuso, who had been the focus of a manhunt earlier on Friday, was charged with a count of making threats to officials and cyberstalking and cyberharassment.

The victims identified in the criminal complaint filed by state police are Supreme Court Chief Justice William P. Robinson III and the court’s disciplinary counsel David D. Curtin. The threatening emails were sent at 3:14 and 4:14 p.m. Thursday, said state police Detective Ruth Hernandez.

Gelfuso provided his own legal representation during his appearance before District Court Judge Stephen Isherwood.

He was arrested on a warrant Friday afternoon during a motor-vehicle stop by the Rhode Island State Police Violent Fugitive Task Force, according to state police.

The arrest came hours after authorities issued an alert that Gelfuso had threatened to shoot Supreme Court Justice William Robinson and blow up the Superior Court.

In July 2017, Gelfuso was arrested at his home in Cranston on a warrant charging him with cyberharassment, according to the state police.

At the time, The Providence Journal identified him as a lawyer who could no longer practice in Rhode Island under a suspension ordered by the state Supreme Court the previous month.

Gelfuso had missed several deadlines for making a case on behalf of a client, the order said. Then, after receiving several chances to get his representation back on track, he filed a “purported statement of the case” that was “incoherent” and filled “with scurrilous accusations alleging unethical and criminal conduct by the trial justice and the attorney representing the opposing party,” says the court’s order.

“Additionally,” says the 2017 order, Gelfuso “made outlandish allegations regarding the character of each Justice” of the state Supreme Court.

In a pleading in Family Court, Gelfuso had accused a judge of previously working for “a Jewish law firm on what can only be considered skid row” and asserted that the judge has “ties to the state and various conspiratorial fringe religious sects.”

When Gelfuso was asked to provide factual support for his allegations, he failed, says the order.

A spokesman for the courts, Craig N. Berke, told The Journal on Friday that Gelfuso’s license remains suspended.

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As government shutdown continues, Oregon U.S. attorney's office seeks delays in civil cases, reduces staff – OregonLive

The U.S. Department of Justice has sought to delay a number of high-profile civil cases in Oregon – including the lawsuit filed by the widow of refuge takeover spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum – as the federal government shutdown continues.

Federal courts in the state remain open and operating, with court funding available through Jan. 11.

After that date, if funding isn’t restored, payments would be in jeopardy for jurors, court reporters, public defenders and probation officers — and likely would force changes in court operations.

“The longer that this lasts, the effect will start to be felt,’’ said Lisa Hay, Oregon’s federal public defender.

Oregon’s U.S. Attorney’s Office has furloughed a little over one-third of its approximately 130-member staff, with prosecutors and support staff in the civil division, asset recovery and administrative units mostly affected, according to First Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Asphaug.

The federal prosecutors and support staff who are showing up to work in Oregon aren’t getting paid, except for U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. U.S. attorneys appointed by presidents – as opposed to the hired assistant U.S. attorneys — are exempt from the shutdown. Trump appointed Williams to the job in March. The prosecutors and staff are expected to get paid retroactively.

Since Dec. 21, federal lawyers have filed dozens of motions to place civil litigation on hold, particularly in cases that had immediate hearings or motion deadlines coming up. They also have sought holds in civil cases where federal agencies being sued face furloughs, such as the U.S. Forest Service or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In the Finicum case, Justice Department senior trial attorney Leah B. Taylor wrote that it’s not clear when Congress will restore funding for the department, which includes the FBI.

Jeanette Finicum has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the FBI, Oregon State Police, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and others in the fatal shooting of her 54-old husband, a rancher from Arizona who became the spokesman for the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. He was shot Jan. 26, 2016, by two state police officers after he fled a police stop and emerged from his truck at a roadblock. The FBI and state police initiated the stop to arrest organizers of the refuge occupation. Police said LaVoy Finicum had reached inside his jacket for a gun when he was shot. Police later said they recovered a loaded 9mm handgun , according to the investigation.

“Although we greatly regret any disruption caused to the court and the other litigants, the government hereby moves for a stay of proceedings,” Taylor wrote. That included a Jan. 3 filing deadline, she said, “until Department of Justice attorneys are permitted to resume their usual civil litigation functions.”

Federal lawyers also have asked to delay a lawsuit filed by the state and city of Portland against President Donald Trump and his immigration enforcement policies. In the suit, Oregon’s attorney general and the city of Portland claim Trump’s Justice Department has improperly and unlawfully “targeted” Oregon for denial of federal grants that assist state and local law enforcement agencies simply because Oregon is a sanctuary state. State law prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using public resources to arrest people whose only violation of the law is being in the country without documentation. A judge put the case on hold Wednesday. It will continue once government attorneys can resume “their usual civil litigation functions,’’ Justice Department lawyer W. Scott Simpson wrote in a court filing.

The Justice Department, however, hasn’t sought a delay in its settlement case with the city of Portland on police reforms required after an investigation found officers used excessive force against people with mental illness.

That’s largely because the next court hearing in the case isn’t until June, when a judge will evaluate how the city’s new community policing citizen panel has been working.

The Justice Department has directed federal prosecutors to ensure that “essential public safety and national security missions continue,’’ said Kevin Sonoff, a spokesman for the Oregon U.S. Attorney’s Office. About one-third of the Oregon U.S. Attorney’s office is working, he said.

“In Oregon, we have reduced staffing levels, but (assistant U.S. attorneys) and staff supporting criminal prosecutions will continue working,’’ he said. “Civil litigation is curtailed or postponed to the degree it can be without jeopardizing human life or property.’’

Federal courthouses are using court fee balances and other money not dependent on a new appropriation from Congress to stay open through the end of next week, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

The federal judiciary system also is working to conserve available money by delaying or deferring expenses, such as new hires and travel that’s not case-related when possible, according to Jackie Koszczuk, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Courts Administrative Office in Washington, D.C.

The government shutdown marked its 13th day Thursday, with no end in sight resulting from the dispute over Trump’s demand for billions of dollars for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

After Jan. 11, each federal court district will make its own decisions regarding what’s considered critical work and the staff necessary to perform it, Koszczuk said.

Criminal prosecutions, as they relate to public safety, are likely to proceed but civil litigation could be further delayed in Oregon, according to the U.S. attorney’s Office.

And while federal public defenders will be paid through Jan. 11, other court-appointed defense lawyers assigned to cases as part of the Criminal Justice Act Panel had their pay suspended in late December because of the shutdown, Hay said. The panel defense lawyers, who are appointed by the court when people can’t afford to hire private attorneys, are paid $140 an hour.

That could impair their ability to hire investigators or forensic experts who work on contract, said Tiffany Harris, a criminal defense attorney on the federal panel.

“A protracted shutdown could fray our relationships with expert witnesses, psychologists and other people we recruit and hire, on a promise that they will be compensated by the federal government for their work on a case,’’ Harris said.

— Maxine Bernstein

Email at

Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian

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American accused by Russia of spying will contest charges, lawyer says – ABC News

The Russian lawyer of an American man arrested in Russia for alleged spying said his client is in good spirits and intends to contest the charges against him.

The lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told ABC News on Thursday that he had seen Paul Whelan in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, where the former Marine has been held since he was arrested on espionage charges last week.

“He feels entirely fine, he is holding himself with dignity, with confidence, he is acting correctly in relation to the participants in the case, and even with a some humor,” Zherebenkov told ABC News.

Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), announced on New Year’s Eve that it had detained Whelan, 48, accusing him of conducting “spying activity” while visiting Moscow. The agency said it had arrested Whelan on Dec. 28 but gave no further details about the charges against him.

His family has said Whelan, who grew up in Michigan, was in Russia for a wedding and that it is impossible he is a spy.

Whelan’s case has so far remained wrapped in mystery, with no official information about what precisely he is accused of doing. His lawyer, Zherebenkov, said that he had been briefed on the charges against Whelan as well as the details of the case, but that he cannot comment on them due to a confidentiality agreement. He said that Whelan does not accept the charges and intends to plead not guilty in court.

The lawyer said he would be filing an appeal on Thursday against Whelan’s pre-trial detention, arguing he should be released on bail. Given the charges against Whelan, however, the appeal will almost certainly be rejected.

Whelan is currently being held alone in a cell in Lefortovo, Zherebenkov said, but added that he expected Whelan would be given a cellmate at the end of the Russian New Year celebrations, which run until mid-January. Zherebenkov said that Whelan had requested he be placed with another English-speaker, since his Russian is poor.

Lefortovo was once controlled by the KGB and then its successor the FSB, but is now officially under the Justice Ministry. It is known as a place where spies and other high-value prisoners are held.

Whelan’s lawyer said he was being treated well, noting only that things were moving a little slowly because of the long Russian holidays.

“He asked for a few everyday items,” Zherebenkov said, adding that Whelan had been delayed in receiving them because he was arrested just before New Year and “in principle, the comrades were already on holiday.”

The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, visited Whelan in jail on Wednesday, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Russia to provide access to him.

Whelan is a former staff sergeant in the Marines, and service records provided by the Marines show he served two tours in Iraq in 2004 and 2006. But in 2008, the records show, Whelan received a bad conduct discharge from the military for larceny charges and was demoted to the rank of private. According to a statement from his employer, Whelan is currently the director of global security for BorgWarner Inc., a large American auto-parts supplier.

Whelan’s twin brother, David Whelan, told ABC News this week that he could not imagine his brother would spy in Russia.

“He’s got a military background, he’s been in corporate security for years,” David Whelan said Tuesday. “He was going to be very well aware of the risks of traveling in Russia. I just don’t see him putting himself in a position where he would be considered to break the law by a government like Russia’s.”

A self-identified Russophile and a keen traveler, Paul Whelan has travelled to Russia repeatedly as a tourist and for work, his brother said. Whelan has an account on the Russian social media site, VKontakte, which he appears to have used to mostly post holiday wishes and to express his condolences to Russians following disasters, sometimes in Russian.

Last week, he was in Russia to attend the wedding of an old friend from the Marines, who was marrying a Russian woman, his family said. He had been staying at the upscale Metropol hotel in central Moscow and had been involved in the wedding party.

The group had toured city together, including visiting the Kremlin Friday morning, his brother, David Whelan said. That was the same day, Dec. 28, Paul Whelan was detained.

The wedding was that night and his friends become concerned when Paul Whelan never appeared, his brother said. His friends hadn’t heard anything from Paul since 5 p.m.

The silence “was very much out of character for him even when he was traveling,” the family said of Paul Whelan in the statement.

Some of Paul Whelan’s background appeared to come as a surprise to his brother, who said he had not known Paul had received a bad conduct discharge from the Marines.

Russia has yet to publicly give any details of what Paul Whelan is accused of, but on Wednesday, Rosbalt, a Russian news site known to have close ties to the security services published an article with what it said were the allegations.

Rosbalt, citing an anonymous source in Russia’s security services, alleged that Paul Whelan had been caught by FSB agents in possession of a memory card containing a classified list of secret Russian operatives.

On Thursday, Rosbalt published further allegations, asserting that Russia’s intelligence services believed Paul Whelan had worked as a spy for 10 years, seeking to recruit Russians picked by American intelligence agencies as promising sources with access to classified materials by befriending them on internet forums and then, years later, traveling to Russia to meet them.

Russian authorities have not commented on the Rosbalt reports and the claims have not been independently verified. The site is known to publish information it says has been leaked from the security services.

Zherebenkov said he had read the Rosbalt reports but could not comment on them, citing the case’s confidentiality agreement.

“As for if that will be confirmed, well, there will be an investigation, the criminal case will be investigated, and studied,” the lawyer said, saying everything will be dealt with in court.

Whelan’s arrest comes on the heels of that of Maria Butina, the Russian gun rights activist who last month pleaded guilty in a U.S. court of illegally acting as a foreign agent.

U.S. prosecutors accused Butina of trying to infiltrate the Republican Party through American conservative organizations, acting on behalf of a well-connected Russian government banking official.

Russia has claimed the Butina case is a fabricated witch hunt and has accused the U.S. of taking her hostage for political reasons. That has given rise to speculation that Whelan might have been seized as a potential bargaining chip.

Secretary of State Pompeo was asked by reporters on Tuesday if he believed Russia had taken Whelan in retaliation for Butina’s detention.

“We’ve made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about charges and come to understand what it is he is accused of and if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate release,” Pompeo told reporters at a press conference in Brazil.

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Cooley's Birger Returns to Manhattan US Attorney's Office as Chief of Criminal Division | New York Law Journal –

Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. Berman announced insider trading charges against Christopher Collins, a Republican Congressman representing the 27th District of New York (Photo: John Taggart/Bloomberg) Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference in New York, U.S., on Aug. 8, 2018. (Photo: John Taggart/Bloomberg)

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York announced Wednesday that Cooley LLP partner Laura Grossfield Birger is returning to the office as head of the criminal division.

“Laura was an outstanding AUSA during her prior tour in the office and is an accomplished criminal defense lawyer. I am confident that with her intellect, energy, vision and leadership, Laura will be a terrific Criminal Division chief,” Berman said in a statement.

Birger served as chief of the general crimes unit under then-U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia, before joining Cooley in 2007. As partner at the firm she handled white-collar criminal, complex civil and regulatory matters, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Birger was part of the Cooley team that represented former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom associate Alex van der Zwaan ahead of his guilty plea for lying to investigators from Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s office as part of the ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Practicing in Manhattan federal court, Biger was recently part of Cooley’s team representing ChromaDex, a dietary supplement and food ingredient company, being sued by a rival manufacturer over claims ChromaDex improperly sought a federal probe over the sale of a competing product.

In a statement, William Schwartz, the chair of Cooley’s white-collar and regulatory defense group, said her former colleagues at the firm expected she would find only further success as criminal division chief.

“We wish Laura the very best as she returns to public service in this important role,” Schwartz said. “We have had the enormous pleasure of working with Laura for more than a decade, during which time she has been an invaluable member of our practice and a critical player in some of the firm’s most significant white-collar criminal, complex civil, and regulatory matters.”

Prior to her departure for Cooley, Birger spent a decade in the Manhattan federal prosecutors’ office, having served as deputy chief of the appeals unit before heading up the general crimes unit.

Birger’s return was necessitated by the departure at the end of December of Lisa Zornberg, the previous criminal division chief. Herself a former veteran in the office whose tenure overlapped with that of Birger, Zornberg returned in 2016 to take over the criminal division under then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Zornberg remained head of the division after Bharara was fired by President Donald Trump in March 2017, and then-U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions named Berman as the U.S. attorney to head the office in January 2018.

In his statement, Berman thanked Zornberg for her years of “exceptional service” as criminal division chief. A spokesman for the office did not have information on where Zornberg was headed. Zornberg declined to comment on any potential future plans when reached by email.


The Impact of First Circuit’s ‘Prosperi’ Decision

Manhattan US Attorney Berman Will Remain, SDNY Court Says

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Top court’s archive failure ‘dents private-sector confidence’ – South China Morning Post

The mysterious loss of a mountain of legal documents in a decade-long contract battle in China’s top court will erode the beleaguered private sector’s confidence in Beijing’s promises to protect the interests of businesspeople, a lawyer and entrepreneur said.

Veteran Chinese criminal lawyer Zhou Ze said the failure of the Supreme People’s Court to safeguard the documents would have a “chilling effect on all private businesspeople”.

The papers detailed a contract dispute between private firm Kechley Energy Investment headed by businessman Zhao Faqi, and the state-owned Xian Institute of Geological and Mineral Exploration.

Zhao launched legal action over ownership of a mine in Shaanxi province in northwest China in 2006, eventually winning his case in the supreme court in 2017.

The ruling was made despite the papers disappearing from the office of judge Wang Linqing in 2016.

But without the paperwork, the court has been unable to implement the ruling.

The loss only came to light last week after a series of posts on microblogging platform Weibo by prominent former television host Cui Yongyuan and a leaked video believed to be of Wang.

China’s supreme court forced to admit it lost key documents

In the video, the judge says two closed-circuit TV cameras in his office housing the documents were sabotaged.

“The cameras were just installed not long ago and there were two of them in my office. They can’t both be broken,” he says.

The court initially denied that it had lost the documents but its confirmation on the weekend that they had disappeared comes as Beijing has repeatedly tried to shore up confidence in the hard-hit private sector.

Why China’s private firms aren’t convinced the law will protect them

As the country’s economic growth as slowed in recent months, President Xi Jinping and other senior leaders of the ruling Communist Party have repeatedly vowed to protect the country’s private businesses and find new ways to help them.

Zhou said Zhao’s case was not isolated and would fuel scepticism of the central government’s support.

“A case like this will have a chilling effect on all private businesspeople, making them feel insecure in dealing with the government,” he said. “It makes people think that the government is naturally hostile to people who make their fortune fast.”

Is China suffocating the most vital part of its economy amid US trade war?

One of Zhao’s business acquaintances, who declined to be named for fear of retribution, said the loss of the documents had done great damage to the confidence of the country’s entrepreneurs.

“I feel that people are losing confidence,” the businessman said. “It is a court’s responsibility to follow the law … but they are not even doing that.”

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