U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, the judge who will oversee Keith Raniere’s upcoming trial, issued a thoroughly detailed Order today that denied several pending motions in the case.
The Order – which appears to have been crafted in anticipation of a post-trial appeal – denied the following motions that had been filed by Raniere and his former co-defendants in the case (All of those former co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to various charges):
– To dismiss various counts and racketeering acts;
– To require the prosecution to produce a Bill Of Particulars;
– To require the government to promptly disclose any exculpatory materials A/K/A/ Brady materials;
– To preclude the government from utilizing its proposed expert witnesses; and
– To allow foreign witnesses to testify via live video-conferencing.
For the sake of clarity, the court treated all the pending motions as if they been filed by Raniere. It also combined the Motions To Dismiss that had been filed with respect to the first superseding indictment with those that were filed with respect to the second superseding indictment.
To organize its analysis, the court summarized all the pending motions into the following seven categories:
(1) RE: Count One: The Motion To Dismiss Count One because it fails to allege predicate acts with sufficient particularity, fails to properly allege the “pattern” element of a RICO charge, and is duplicitous.
(2) RE: Count Two: The Motion To Dismiss Count Two because it fails to allege predicate acts with sufficient particularity, fails to properly allege the “pattern” element of a RICO charge, and is duplicitous.
(3) RE: Child Pornography: The Motion To Dismiss Racketeering Acts 2, 3, and 4 – which charge Raniere with sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography.
(4) RE: Sex Trafficking: The Motion To Dismiss Counts Six, Eight, Nine, and Ten – which charge Raniere with sex-trafficking offenses.
(5) RE: Forced Labor Conspiracy: The Motion To Dismiss Count Six – which charges Raniere with a forced labor conspiracy.
(6) RE: Extortion: The Motion To Dismiss Racketeering Act Ten – which charges Raniere with a state-law extortion offense.
(7) RE: Procedural Motions:
(a) A Motion for a Bill of Particulars regarding all the charges;
(b) A Motion for Prompt Disclosure of Brady materials;
(c) A Motion to Preclude the prosecution’s proposed expert witnesses; and
(d) A Motion for an order allowing the defendant’s foreign witnesses to testify via live video-conferencing.
None of today’s rulings qualify as a “big surprise” – or even as a “small surprise” for the matter.
That’s because almost all Motions To Dismiss are, in essence, “Hail Mary passes” that defense attorneys often file just to have issues that can be appealed if their clients end up getting convicted.
In fact, the only ruling that was at all noteworthy is the one that had to do with the testimony of the foreign witnesses.
Rather than just outright denying that one – which is what he did with all the others – Judge Garaufis denied it “without prejudice”. That means that Raniere can re-file it at a later date.
The reason why the judge ruled the way he did on the foreign witnesses motion is because Raniere’s counsel, Marc Agnifilo, has informed the court that “he does not expect to request live video-conferencing, and will instead ask the Government to allow his foreign witnesses to travel safely to this district so that they can testify in person”.
This is the same Marc Agnifilo who informed the court just last week that he does not anticipate presenting any witnesses on behalf of Raniere.
Of much greater importance than the issues that were resolved by today’s ruling are these four still unresolved issues:
(1) Will the prosecution be allowed to introduce the pornographic images of Jane Doe 2 that were taken when she was 15 years old – and that expose her vagina and inner labia?
(2) Will Rhiannon – the woman who claims she was repeatedly raped by Raniere when she was 12-13 years old – be allowed to testify about those incidents?
(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?
(4) Will Raniere’s victims be required to disclose their full names in open court – or will they be allowed to use just their first name or a pseudonym?
Of those remaining issues, the one that is the most complicated – and hardest to predict in terms of how Judge Garaufis will rule – concerns the testimony of Raniere’s victims.
Although a defendant clearly has the right to know the names of his accusers, that is not an issue in this case.
Raniere clearly knows the names of all the victims who will testify – and quite probably has viewed tall of the collateral that was collected on each of them.
So, the issue is whether the media – and, therefore, the general public – has the right to know the full names of those women.
There are legitimate arguments that can be made on both sides of that issue – and it will be interesting to see how Judge Garaufis rules on it.