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United States v. Brugnara

United States District Court, Northern District of California

December 19, 2014

LUKE D. BRUGNARA, Defendant.



At the pre-trial conference, Attorney Erik Babcock, appointed under our CJA program to represent the accused, stated he had experienced unreasonable obstacles in trying to meet with Luke Brugnara, his client, at the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in Alameda County. Attorney Babcock also complained that jail staff confiscated a redweld of discovery documents that he had left with defendant during their contact visit on December 9, 2014.

On December 12, 2014, the Court held an evidentiary hearing to determine what happened during Attorney Babcock's visits with defendant at Glenn Dyer and to get to the bottom of recurring complaints and outbursts by the accused in open court concerning jail restrictions that allegedly interfere with his ability to have effective representation. The government presented the testimony of four Glenn Dyer staff members who are familiar with the process for attorney-client visits and exchange of documents at the jail. Attorney Babcock and defendant also testified at the hearing. The government submitted supplemental briefing containing declarations from Glenn Dyer staff.

This order also resolves a related matter, a second appeal from an order of Magistrate Judge Nat Cousins again denying pre-trial release, the appeal based in part on allegedly unreasonable conditions at Glenn Dyer.

We have held more than sixteen different hearings in this case since this prosecution began on May 27, 2014. The substance of those hearings is detailed in the Court's most recent detention order (Dkt. No. 169), which our court of appeals recently affirmed. United States of America v. Luke D. Brugnara, No. 14-10483, slip op. (9th Cir. Dec. 9, 2014). In brief, in this fraud prosecution, defendant was released pending trial to a halfway house and promised to abide by whatever conditions the Court imposed. Defendant violated several of those conditions and was eventually remanded into custody. Defendant's latest argument to get out of pre-trial detention excoriates conditions at Glenn Dyer jail.

Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the Court finds that defendant has not demonstrated that the conditions imposed at Glenn Dyer unduly interfere with effective representation. Defendant's appeal of Judge Cousins' detention order is Denied.

1.Visiting Hours and Document Procedures at Glenn Dyer.

Defendant's motion makes two general allegations regarding the procedures in place at Glenn Dyer: (1) attorney-client visiting hours are inadequate; and (2) defendant does not have sufficient access to written discovery.

At the evidentiary hearing, Glenn Dyer personnel described the way in which attorneys visit with their clients. Lieutenant Yesenia Sanchez, the executive officer of Glenn Dyer, and Sergeant James LaRosa, the administrative sergeant at Glenn Dyer, testified about the attorney-inmate visitation procedures. Based on this testimony, the Court finds as follows.

Attorneys can conduct either contact visits or non-contact visits with their clients at Glenn Dyer. Contact visits take place in one of two interview rooms at the facility, each of which contains two chairs or stools and a table, the one with chairs being more comfortable than the one with stools, but both being adequate. Typically, Glenn Dyer requires attorneys to schedule contact visits at least 24 hours in advance, but the staff will try to accommodate last-minute requests, sometimes with success and sometimes not. Contact visits are also typically limited to two hours, but the Court finds that the time limit will usually be extended upon request. In this case, the United States Marshal states that an arrangement has been made to allow counsel for the accused to have up to these hours. There is no limit on the number of days in a week that an attorney may have contact visits (subject to room availability).

Non-contact visits occur in one of the facility's visiting rooms, which are on each jail floor. During a non-contact visit, attorney and client are separated by a glass screen (with no pass-through slot for documents and no phone). Non-contact visits do not need to be scheduled in advance. Attorney visiting hours for both contact and non-contact visits are from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. and from 5:30 P.M. to 10 P.M., seven days a week.

An attorney limitation on non-contact visits is that they cannot take place during family and friend visiting hours, which occur for three hours on either Thursdays and Saturdays or Fridays and Sundays, depending on which floor the inmate is housed. During contact visits, counsel may bring documents and go over those documents with the client, but counsel must take the documents when counsel leave. The Court agrees that non-contact visits are adequate for routine meetings but agrees with the accused that they would be inadequate when extensive documents need to be discussed. For the latter case, however, contact visits are available (contact visits by attorneys are available regardless of the number of documents to be reviewed).

All written discovery or other material that an attorney wishes to go back to an inmate's cell must go through the Inmate Services Department. There are three ways in which an attorney can physically transfer documents to an inmate for such use. First, an attorney can mail the documents to Inmate Services at the jail. The lawyer is supposed to remove any staples, binder clips, paper clips, or any other inappropriate content. If the lawyer neglects to do so, Inmate Services will remove the inappropriate material, but this may slow down the delivery of the documents to the inmate. Once Inmate Services receives the package, this security process typically takes a day at most. Second, an attorney can physically bring the documents, pre-cleared of clips and staples, to Inmate Services during its operating hours, which are from 7 A.M. to 3 P.M. on weekdays. Inmate Services will then remove any contraband contained in the documents, as described above, and deliver the documents to the inmate. Third, if an attorney visits Glenn Dyer when Inmate Services is closed, the attorney can leave the documents with the lobby staff, who will forward the documents to the Inmate Services Department.

There is no limit on the number of documents an attorney can deliver to Glenn Dyer for an inmate's review. For fire safety reasons, however, an inmate may only have two banker-sized boxes in the cell at one time. Any additional documents will be housed in an inmate's property file. The inmate may swap any box in the cell for a different box in the property room by making a written request with Inmate Services. Moreover, the Court finds that attorneys and ...

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