United States District Court, S.D. New York
SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CHARLES HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE.
movants/petitioners Steven Camacho and Jaime Rodriguez have
written a joint letter to the Court dated December 21, 2019
("the December 21 letter") requesting further
intervention by the Court. This Supplemental Memorandum and
Order responds to that request.
Memorandum and Order filed on November 18, 2019 ("the
November 18 Order"), familiarity with which is assumed,
the Court directed the Clerk to file the present joint
application of habeas movants/petitioners Rodriguez and
Camacho as a motion under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure in the consolidated habeas cases bearing
docket No. 1:14-Civ-4628 (CSH) (Rodriguez) and 1:14 Civ. 4846
(CSH) (Camacho). The gravamen of the most recent submissions
by Rodriguez and Camacho, currently incarcerated, is that
"they are entitled to habeas relief on the basis of the
United States Supreme Court's recent decision in
United States v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 2319 (2019),"
which held the firearms statute, at 18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(3)(B), unconstitutional. November Order at 2-3.
Davis has implications for Rodriguez and Camacho
because they received five-year consecutive sentences
following their convictions for violating the firearms
statute. The November Order appointed the Federal Defenders
of New York to represent Rodriguez and Camacho in their
continuing efforts to obtain habeas relief. On that
assumption, the November 18 Order directed the Federal
Defenders to "propose a briefing schedule."
Id. at 4.
Baumgartel, Esq., an Assistant Federal Defender, has sent a
letter dated December 19, 2019, to the Court which confirms
the appointment of the Federal Defenders to represent
Rodriguez and Camacho "in connection with potential
motions based on the Supreme Court's decision" in
the Davis case. Ms. Baumgartel says that "I
have conferred with the government and the parties have
agreed upon a proposed briefing schedule, as follows:
Defendants' opening brief due January 31, 2020
Government's response due February 28, 2020
Defendants' reply due March 13, 2020."
December 21 letter from Camacho and Rodriguez, they strongly
object to that schedule. They ask the Court to reject it.
Their urgency stems from the fact that, in the perception of
Rodriguez and Camacho, the grant of their motion for vacatur
of their firearms statute conviction "and its
consecutive five year sentence makes us eligible for
immediate release due to the fact that we have under four
years left to serve." December 21 letter, at 1.
Court expresses no present opinion as to whether Rodriguez
and Camacho are correct in asserting that the Davis
opinion, when applied to the facts of their cases, entitles
them to "immediate release." But Rodriguez and
Camacho believe that to be so, and if they are right, then
every additional day they spend in prison is wrongful. They
can be excused for thinking that their motions should be
processed immediately, and protesting that the briefing
schedule proposed by the attorneys (Federal Defenders for
Petitioners, the United States Attorney for the Government)
is too long in time.
said that, it is also apparent that the proposed schedule was
agreed upon as the result of a conference between two
attorneys (Ms. Baumgartel for Petitioner, and an AUSA for the
Government) who, given the years elapsed since the trial and
appeals, knew nothing about the cases before these
assignments and had to learn about them. Presumably they each
have other cases for which they are responsible (unlike
Rodriguez and Camacho, for whom their cases are the
functional equivalent of their lives). I am not persuaded
that the schedule proposed by these attorneys should be
discarded in its entirety.
briefing schedule proposed by counsel provides that the
Petitioners' motion papers are "due January 31,
2020." In the circumstances, I construe that to mean
"not later than January 31, 2020." That
language, thus construed, does not foreclose an
earlier filing by counsel on behalf of Petitioners;
and, given the apparent exigencies of the Petitioners'
situation and the deserved reputation of the Federal
Defenders for dedicated representation, if Ms. Baumgartel is
professionally able to file her submissions based on the
Davis opinion before January 31, she should do so.
United States Attorney's Office for this District will
then have to respond to Petitioners' motions. The
proposed schedule specifies a filing by Petitioners on
January 31, and provides that the Government's response
is "due February 28, 2020": again, construed as
"not later than February 28." It does not
seem to me that the AUSA in charge of the case can reasonably
require an additional 28 days after Petitioner's filing
to prepare a response to it. The current phase of this
litigation does not involve an appeal posing a number of
complex legal or evidentiary issues generated by a lengthy
trial record. The issues presently presented are discrete and
relatively narrow: (1) Does the Supreme Court's
constitutional ruling in Davis invalidate the
firearms convictions of Rodriguez and Camacho? (2) If that
question be answered in the affirmative, are Rodriguez and
Camacho entitled as a matter of law to immediate release from
incarceration? The AUSA already knows what Petitioners'
contentions are going to be, and need not wait to receive
their motion papers before beginning responsive legal
research, which presumably will lead, inter alia, to
United States v. Barrett, 937 F.3d 126, 127 (2d Cir.
2019), where the Second Circuit dealt briskly with the
pertinent questions. (Barrett vacated firearms
convictions because Davis precluded them).
United States Attorney's Office for this District is
equally esteemed for its service to the cause of justice. A
priority must be given to these Petitioners' present
assertions, given the totality of the circumstances. The
Court's ORDER is that the Government must file responsive
papers as promptly as possible, and in any event not later
than twenty-one (21) calendar days after the date of service
upon the United States Attorney of Petitioners' intended
motion and brief.
noted supra, the Federal Defender should file and
serve Petitioners' papers as promptly as reasonably
possible, and ...