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Beras v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 7, 2014

ROBERTO BERAS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Respondent.

Porfirio Mejia # 57158-054, Lisbon, OH, Movant (Pro Se).

Benjamin Naftalis, Tatiana Martins, Assistant United States Attorney, New York, NY, for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, District Judge.

On December 4, 2000, a jury in this District returned a verdict finding Roberto Beras guilty of a number of crimes related to an international money laundering conspiracy. On November 21, 2001, Judge Shirley Wohl Kram sentenced Beras to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 292 months and three years of supervised release. Beras's sentence and conviction were affirmed by the Second Circuit, and the Supreme Court denied a writ of certiorari in 2004.[1]

On March 9, 2005, Beras filed a Petition Under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (the "Petition"). On March 20, 2013, this Court issued an Opinion and Order denying the Petition.[2] On April 22, 2013, Beras filed both a notice of appeal and a motion for reconsideration.[3] The motion for reconsideration was denied on June 3, 2013.[4] On January 8, 2014, the Second Circuit denied Beras's motion for a certificate of appealability and dismissed his appeal.[5]

While the appeal was pending, third-party Porfirio Mejia, a prisoner in the same facility as Beras, filed a motion to intervene pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 ("Rule 24") to assert the public's qualified First Amendment right to access to criminal proceedings. Mejia's motion is based on allegations raised in a supplemental motion filed by Beras on February 5, 2006, and this Court's determination that those claims were time-barred.[6]

Beras alleged that:

(1) Judge Kram heard certain aspects of the trial - e.g., Beras's not-guilty plea, a portion of his bail proceedings, and hearings related to the voir dire process and juror notes - in her robing room, rather than in open court; (2) on one occasion, Beras's defense counsel asked that Beras's wife and young children be removed from the Court because the children were too young, and might disrupt the proceedings; and (3) on another occasion, Judge Kram asked that two spectators leave the court, because it was overcrowded.[7]

I held that Beras's claims concerning these issues did not relate back to the Petition and accordingly were time-barred.[8] Mejia argues that he should be permitted to intervene in Beras's habeas proceeding to "assert claims under the Constitution of the United States that Beras cannot assert, because... [Beras] is barred from doing so by the applicable statute of limitations."[9]

Rule 24 provides for both intervention as of right and permissive intervention:

a) Intervention of Right. On timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene who:
(1) is given an unconditional right to intervene by a federal statute; or
(2) claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, ...

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