Alex Sanchez's Defense Team Got Nowhere in Appeal to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Blew Attempted "Hail Mary" Play Around Judge Manuel L. Real. The Feds' Ball-Control Game Plan Appears to be Working.
Question: Is a dropped shovel pass considered an incomplete pass or a fumble?
Answer: A forward pass, is a forward pass, is a forward pass. It can be thrown overhand, underhand, one-handed, two-handed or between your legs. The direction it travels is the only deciding factor as to whether it’s forward or backward.
So, if a forward shovel pass hits the ground it’s an incomplete pass.
Curt Johnson’s American Football Rules Answers for Coaches
LATER NOTE: Alex Sanchez was granted pre-trial release on January 13, 2010. See story here.
Alex Sanchez’s lawyer has played a fan-rousing first-quarter game of razzle-dazzle legal football trying to spring the accused Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) “secret shot caller” from jail while he awaits trial.
Forget the cheers and pom-poms. The case is right back where it started — in the forbidding courtroom of octogenarian federal district Judge Manuel L. Real.
Underhand, overhand, fumble or incomplete pass, call it what you will. A desperate maneuver to get the controversial case reassigned to a different judge blew up like a busted shovel pass hit by a play-reading, line-backing locomotive.
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Full background on the federal racketeering (RICO) indictment, arrest, and incarceration pending trial of Sanchez — an admitted gangster supposedly reformed and turned anti-gang activist, now accused by the feds of being a “secret shot-caller” — can be found in all of its tortured procedural history here, here, and here.
"Nothing Personal About that Flamethrower, Your Honor."
As Fairly Civil reported in detail here, the appellate brief filed last month on Sanchez’s behalf before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals torched Judge Real, the government, its witnesses, and the handling of the case. The brief demanded removal of Judge Real from the case because — paraphrased in layman’s terms — he “just doesn’t get it.” The defense lawyer’s next appearance before Judge Real should be … um … interesting — a textbook case, perhaps, of “nothing personal about that flamethrower in the Ninth Circuit, your honor.”
Incredibly, while Sanchez’s appeal was still pending, startling “news” broke that the case had been reassigned to another judge. Sanchez’s many fans popped the corks on the champagne and celebrated an early Christmas.
See how this series of developments unfolded by checking out the excellent (if unabashedly pro-Sanchez) WitnessLA blog here.
This news energized aging California hippy activist and prolific gang fiction writer Tom Hayden like a straight shot of Geritol. Hayden fired up his rhetorical flying saucer on the tarmac over in Area 51, and beamed an ecstatic account of the thrilling development onto the pages of The Nation magazine.
Premature excitation, it turned out.
The case was promptly — and somewhat curtly — reassigned back to Judge Real!
News of Ephemeral "Reassignmnet" Galvanized Accomplished Intergalactic Saucer Pilot and Gang Fiction Writer Tom Hayden
Never one to let the facts get in the way of a good story, Hayden jumped back into his intergalactic travel machine and fired an email straight from the radical 70s, filled with predictably dark imaginings about the manipulation of the legal system, the sinister hidden hand of LAPD corruption tainting the federal legal system …. yadda-yadda, yadda-yadda.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em. But try not to inhale.
Here, is WitnessLA’s recitative on Hayden’s petulant emission:
Hayden sent around an email Tuesday night containing details and reactions. It read in part:
“The turn of events will raise new suspicions about alleged manipulation of the proceedings which began six months ago with Sanchez’ arrest on gang conspiracy charges. Sanchez, a well-known gang intervention worker who helped expose the Los Angeles police Rampart scandal a decade ago, asserts his innocence in the case. He is being held without bail at a federal prison in Los Angeles.
As of 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, no order reversing the transfer had been received by defense counsel, and no explanation offered for the unusual chain of events.
The order surprised and pleased the Sanchez defense team. His supporters, organized as http://www.wearealex.org, assert that Sanchez is being railroaded and denied any semblance of a fair trial. Sanchez’ court-appointed counsel, Kerry Bensinger, argued in a recent appeal to the Ninth Circuit that the case should be remanded to another judge.
Why the December 4 transfer order was withdrawn less than a day after it was made public will raise questions about the inner workings of the judiciary itself.”
Uh, huh. Something like that.
Or to put it another way: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot???!!
Or, to put it yet another way, “Beam me up, Scotty.” In fact, the assignment-reassignment is not puzzling at all.
A complete explanation was then, is now, and will be available in full view, on the public record, in the federal court house in Los Angeles for any journaliste or enfant terrible curious — and energetic — enough to bring actual facts to the question. Anyone without the means to actually get down to the clerk’s office (take a bus or ride a bike) can go onto an amazing thing called “the internet” ( a series of interconnected tubes) and dial into reality.
More Geritol, Ma … please!
The Case of the Mysterious Premature Reassignment Explained
Where to start?
Oh, wait, I know!
How about with the actual court order reassigning the reassignment? Brilliant idea!
Here is the complete text of the “Order Returning Case to the Calendar of Judge Manuel Real,” United States v. Jose Alfaro, United States District Court for the Central District of California, Docket No. 09-466-CAS, filed December 8, 2009:
As Chair of the Case Assignment and Management Committee, I have been advised by United States District Judge Christina Snyder that she inadvertently signed a transfer order that contained the representation that the present criminal case purportedly “arise[s] out of the same conspiracy, common scheme, transaction, series of transactions or events” that were the subject of CR 05-00539. Apparently the order was generated when a defense attorney submitted a belated notice of related case status. That notice focuses on a case handled by Judge Snyder involving one of the numerous defendants in the present case. Judge Snyder advises that she was unaware of the status of the above-captioned action, does not believe that the relationship of the cases warrants transfer and has referred the matter to me for a determination as to whether the case should be returned to Judge Real.
Even if there is some connection between these two cases, which I note were filed four years apart, the current case is at such an advanced stage and Judge Real has spent such substantial time and effort on the matter that no judicial economy would be achieved by a transfer at this late date. Indeed, a transfer at this point would undermine the very objectives that provide the reason for the rule. Accordingly, the transfer to Judge Snyder is VACATED and the matter is ORDERED to be returned to Judge Real’s calendar for all further proceedings.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: December 8, 2009
Judge Gary Allen Feess
Chair, Case Assignment and Management Committee
[Judge Snyder’s original order is also available. It is simply a “check the box and sign” order form, CR-59 (12-07), the kind of thing some judges whiz through while pretending to listen from the bench to bloviating counsel. It states in relevant part: “I hereby consent to the transfer of the above-entitled case to my calendar, pursuant to General Order 08-05.”]
Um, plainly, this was an attempt at “judge shopping” by “a defense attorney,” who is not named and may or may not have been Sanchez’s counsel:
We can define “judge shopping” as an effort by a lawyer or litigant to influence a court’s assignment of a case so that it will be directed to a particular judge or away from a particular judge. The adversary usually does this to gain partisan advantage in a case (e.g., to steer it to a judge who is likely to impose a more lenient sentence in a criminal case…)
Memorandum by David C. Steelman, National Center for State Courts, January 21, 2003.
Nice try, Anonymous Mouthpiece!
But … no gain on the play. Ball stuffed. First down, government’s ball.
Three questions linger, and their answers clear up the rest of the mystery.
- What is “the rule” to which Judge Feess refers in the order?
- What prompted Judge Snyder to refer the matter to Judge Feess?
- What was the allegedly “related” case the unnamed defense counsel was so anxious to hook the present case to?
No Wizard Behind the Mysterious Green Curtain -- Just a Boring Rule
Well, for anyone who is interested in how things actually operate behind the sinister green curtain, here is the relevant text of the rule, General Order No. 08-05. It pretty well lays out the boring, non-conspiratorial routine procedure — including safeguards — that goes on in such a case of attempted judge-shopping:
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA, GENERAL ORDER NO. 08-05, ASSIGNMENT OF CASES AND DUTIES TO JUDGES
11.0 RELATED CRIMINAL CASES
11.1 NOTICE OF RELATED CASES
It shall be the responsibility of counsel to promptly file a Notice of Related Cases whenever a criminal case previously filed and one or more informations or indictments later filed:
a. arise out of the same conspiracy, common scheme, transaction, series of transactions or events; or
b. involve one or more defendants in common, and would entail substantial duplication of labor in pretrial, trial or sentencing proceedings if heard by different judges.
11.2 PROCESSING OF PROPOSED TRANSFER ORDER
Whenever counsel files a Notice of Related Cases indicating that any one or more of the above circumstances set forth in Section 11.1 exist, the Clerk shall prepare a proposed transfer order which shall be presented to the transferee judge and processed in the same manner as are related civil cases under Section 5.0 of this General Order.
5.2 PROCESSING OF PROPOSED TRANSFER ORDER
The Clerk shall also simultaneously provide an informational copy of the proposed transfer order to the judge randomly assigned to the case later filed (the transferor judge).
If the transferee judge approves the transfer, the case shall be transferred to the calendar of the transferee judge. If the transferee judge declines the related case transfer, the case shall proceed as originally assigned on the calendar of the transferor judge.
If the transferor judge disagrees with the decision of the transferee judge, the transferor judge may appeal the decision to the Committee. The Committee shall determine whether the cases are related.
Z-z-z-z. So much for the first two questions. No proposed transfer was ever going to just slip by Judge Real in the dark of night. Whether Judge Snyder figured it out on her own, or got a friendly call from Judge Real and/or the U.S. Attorney’s office is immaterial. Once a question was raised, the matter was bound to go to the Case Assignment and Management Committee.
So, what was the case the enterprising defense lawyer selected? For that answer, one must go to Docket No. CR 05-00539 in the same federal courthouse (using the inter-tube thing or skate-boarding to get there).
That docket recounts the case of one Juan Miguel Mancilla, aka “Gato,” a gangster who was arrested in one of the first sweeps by the FBI’s MS-13 National Gang Task Force. Mancilla was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine. His prosecution was handled by then-assistant United States Attorneys Bruce Riordan and Scott Garringer. In April 2006, “Gato” copped a guilty plea and was sentenced to 97 months in prison. The case has been closed since then.
When the current indictment was handed up in June, Mancilla was also named as a defendant, this time on racketeering charges, and was accordingly arrested while still in federal custody. Whoever the enterprising defense counsel was who filed the transfer motion with Judge Snyder was trying to pin the elephant of this case onto the tail of the sleeping donkey of the Mancilla case.
End of mystery.
Oh, Yeah, and About the Ninth Circuit
The government filed a determinedly sober brief in response to Sanchez’s flamethrower. Many observers believe that Sanchez’s argument that one of the participants in a series of calls was misidentified is possibly correct, and has given prosecutors a bit of grief. But, the government’s answer — so what, the guilty party confessed independent of the wiretap? — has so far trumped the assertion, especially in light of the hundreds upon hundreds of hours of other wiretaps and informant material in the case.
The government’s brief, however, contained these interesting assertions, which go beyond the four wiretapped phone calls on which the case has been focused in the bail hearings:
Sanchez had contacts with gang members in 1999, when he arranged a meeting of the shotcallers of the Normandie clique of MS-13 in Los Angeles to negotiate a division of their narcotics distribution enterprise. Sanchez was able to organize this meeting because he was a senior Normandie shotcaller who had been one of the founders of MS-13 in Los Angeles and the former MS-13 representative to the Mexican Mafia. Sanchez has continued to be active in gang business; among other things he has directed its distribution of narcotics and collected proceeds of its narcotics trafficking. Sanchez was intercepted on wiretap calls in 2000, 2001, and 2006 and on recorded prison calls in 2008, talking about MS-13 business.
“Government’s Opposition To Defendant’s Appeal From Detention Order; Memorandum Of Points And Authorities,” United States Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit, Docket No. C.A. 09-50525, filed December 3, 2009.
On December 22, 2009, three Circuit Judges from the Ninth Circuit sent Sanchez’s case back to the federal district court, meaning to the courtroom of Judge Real.
Sanchez Case Is Back to the Future With Judge Manuel L. Real: "Good Morning, Counsel. Now, Where Were We?"