United States District Court, S.D. New York
July 6, 2005.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
RUSSELL HARDING, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEWIS KAPLAN, District Judge
Defendant requests that he appear at his sentencing hearing by
video conference from his current place of incarceration at the
Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. He argues that
he "would be at some increased risk of recurrence of his
depressive symptoms" if he were housed at the Metropolitan
Correctional Center. He claims also that his mental health could
be jeopardized further if he were held there pending designation
of a place of incarceration by the Bureau of Prisons, which he
contends could take four to six weeks.
There is an important interest in requiring a defendant
convicted of a serious crime, as is the case here, to face the
public and the Court in person. Such a confrontation between the
criminal and the sentencing judge, as the representative of the
community, in the presence of members of the public and the press
serves retributive, deterrent, and occasionally rehabilitative
purposes that long have animated our criminal law. That public
interest decisively outweighs a convicted defendant's desire to
minimize discomfort, anxiety and shame by appearing before video
equipment in a private place rather than in person in a public
courtroom. While some accommodation might be warranted if serious
medical or psychological harm would result from a courtroom
proceeding, the materials submitted by defendant do not remotely
suggest that this is likely here. Moreover, the government has
represented that the defendant could be placed in a different
institution while present in this area for sentencing and that
the Bureau of Prisons would be likely to designate a place of
incarceration within days of the imposition of sentence.
Accordingly, the defendant's request is denied.
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