CONTINUANCE IS OKAY, LACK OF DISCOVERY ISN'T
Updated: Apr 6
The indictment out of Philadelphia in which 15 defendants indicted on various counts is ongoing, some of us on the sidelines are waiting for discovery. Discovery basically is the action of both sides handing over what they have on one another, so that both sides can prepare for trial.
In the case of Philadelphia, considering COVID has taken it's second hold on the United States, many courtrooms are delaying trials for the foreseeable future in an effort to try and cut down on the transmission of COVID. In any event, while moving a case back isn't normally an issue, it's an issue in this case, because of the timing of discovery and bail restrictions. One of the issues that have been discussed between defense attorneys and the United States Attorneys and the court, isn't really the delay in the trial itself, but more the more minute details such as bond/bail/travel. If a defendant is subjected to staying at home due to GPS monitoring, and or allotted to only travel a certain limit, then it makes it hard for the said defendant in the case, to meet with attorneys at will. The other issue, which is perhaps a bigger one, is the total lack of discovery heading back towards the defendants.
To make more sense of this, let's dig a little deeper. We know that the government didn't want to release alleged mob Underboss Stevie Mazzone, due to their assertions that somehow Mazzone was a detriment or danger to his community. They also asserted a worry that once discovery began, that somehow Mazzone would know who the informants in the case were, and there would be some sort of retribution if Mazzone was on the outside. Nevermind the GPS, which monitors every move, but the governments argument was biased and riddled with assertions and not facts. In the case of Mazzone, he had been under investigation by the feds since 2015. Therefore any logic rendered about Mazzone now being a danger to the community and not during the previous five plus years, while he was on the streets, fails completely. In any event, Mazzone was released with bail conditions, including a GPS monitoring system.
The move the last few days by attorneys is telling. The defendants in the case had asked for a speedy trial, but that was obviously pushed back because of COVID. The defendants in the case agreed to push the trial back due to concerns over COVID, which likely won't see them in court until November of 2021 at the very least. What the defendants have asked for is a deadline for discovery, because the government is holding back. While it's normal in any case for discovery not to begin immediately, it would appear the government is stalling. Legal documents were addressed to the presiding judge and to the government, for a time schedule of all documents to begin, as the defendants are ready to begin preparing. There were some minor complaints on behalf of the defendants in the case.
"First and foremost, defense counsel has not been provided any discovery – including
materials pertaining solely to the individual defendant. Although Mr. Mazzone and another codefendant were recently arrested in November, other co-defendants were arrested well before then, with three overall separate arrests stemming from the same indictment. Yet no discovery was provided to these defendants as well. Assuming that the discovery production is stalled due to objections concerning the proposed Protective Order, Mr. Mazzone joins in the objections with his co-defendants" They then requested to set some dates for information:
1) Racketeering letter submitted by the government by January 15, 2021
2) Government case materials submitted by February 15, 2021
3) Pretrial motions submitted by March 15, 2021, with oppositions due 20 days thereafter
and replies due five days later only if necessary.
4) A trial date scheduled in two sets – the first being those charged with the top count of
racketeering conspiracy, including defendants Steven Mazzone, Domenic Grande, Joseph
Servidio, Salvatore Mazzone, Joseph Malone, Louis Barretta, Victor DeLuca, Kenneth
Arabia, Daniel Castelli, and Carl Chianese.
5) Motions in limine, jury instructions, and jury questionnaires due 45 days before trial.
Provided the Court’s schedule is available, defense counsel can be ready for trial in
September, October and November 2021.
The Protection Order in this case, had directly to due with the courts do not want to allow the defendants to view any case materials, or discovery in anywhere else other than their attorney's offices. They do not want emailed evidence, or anything getting out publicly. There biggest fear in this case, is the names of informants going public, which could in effect cause problems in the case.
While it's always my opinion that once they agree to cooperate, they should lose all invisibility publicly. I fully disagree with the protection order in this case or in any case to be honest with you. If the defendants can be impugned by character assassination based on words, actions, or storytelling, then why can't we, the public know of the misdeeds of said informants? In my opinion, informants should be outed, and everything they have done should be public, but that's just my opinion.
So I agree, they have a right to argue dates, because in a big court case, which has 14 defendants, as one(Kenny Arabia) sadly passed away due to COVID complications, they should have all the time they need to address things and prepare. The question becomes how important will discovery be? When will it drop? It should have already begun dropping, and discovery will be everything in this case. Until the defense is able to start looking into all the facets of this case, they are forced to sit on their thumbs.