I recently wrote an article that was published on Frank Report called ‘One Name Good, Two Names Bad,’ about due process concerns surrounding Judge Nicholas Garaufis’ decision to allow the prosecution to choose which witnesses were shielded by anonymity and which were not.
My article received a few critiques that I felt warranted a response.
Non-sequitur wrote: There is no correlation nor causation that revealing only a first name adds to, enhances, strengthens, etc., the credibility of a witness before the jury.
Suneel: What would the reason be then for obscuring the identity of one witness while exposing the identity of another? In Raniere’s case, the commonsense, subliminal inference was clear: ‘one name’ women were Raniere’s victims.
Judge Garaufis understood this and agreed to give “a jury instruction explaining that the reason for the anonymity is regard for the witnesses’ and non-witness victims’ privacy” and not because there was a danger posed to the witnesses, in an effort to rectify the issue. But how could a short (seconds to minutes) jury instruction possibly counteract the prejudice that was introduced over weeks of testimony?
K.R. Claviger: I do think this is a valid issue for Keith’s attorneys to raise on appeal. Having said that, I also do NOT believe that this issue will result in a reversal for the simple reason that there is plenty of precedent for Judge Garaufis’ decision to use the one-name-for-victims rule in this case.
Suneel: The precedent Judge Garaufis cited were cases that required protecting witnesses from violence. But in his ruling, [Dkt 622] Judge Garaufis admitted, “the Government does not argue that Raniere was a danger to the victims, but rather that the potential for humiliation and unwanted media attention would unfairly damage the victims’ recovery and hinder reporting in future cases.” [p. 32] Therefore the logic of the judge’s decision was not supported by the precedent he cited. By calling them victims in need of recovery shows the judge’s bias pretty clearly.
Red Herring wrote: It is the public who did not get full disclosure, not the accused, and it was completely irrelevant to due process and the evidence of the case at hand.
Suneel: This was not an issue of disclosure but an issue of the jury being affected by prejudice, which is relevant to due process.
Anonymous wrote: I believe victims should be given privacy and the protection of their name. It should only be their decision — not the legal system, media or social media — to release their full names.
Suneel: I agree that there are circumstances, such as physical safety or safety of loved ones, where the alleged victims should be given anonymity, for their protection. But none of those circumstances were present here, by the prosecution’s admission. The anonymity was about preventing public harassment and embarrassment.
Anonymous: Two women were likely murdered by NXIVM and there is no telling what the Mexican connections or other nefarious connections would do to protect themselves and their own interests… We still don’t know if the LeBaron murders were a hit to hide information of sex trafficking between Mexico and NXIVM. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Clare Bronfman felt justified in her punitive mindset to hire hits against victims…or any of the Mexican elites to arrange hits for their own self-preservation of political interests.
Suneel: Allegations of violence need to be backed up by evidence. There was no evidence of even a threat of violence in the entire six-and-a-half week trial, nor did the government allege that such a threat to witnesses existed.
The government had no legitimate basis for arguing witness anonymity was needed in Raniere’s case, especially when several of those anonymous witnesses (Sarah, India, and Jaye) have come out very publicly and are profiting from having been victims in the case.
Two Views of Picture Below
Government: Keith ‘Wolf’ Raniere, a much older predatory male, waiting to groom, then sexually abuse a young victim, ‘Lambie’ [her nickname]. Once she gave shorn photos of herself, she lost her ability to consent to intimacy.
Defense: Laura ‘Sexy Lambie’ D. Jamison, 25, of Poughkeepsie, a college grad, eagerly looked to take a walk with Keith ‘Huckleberry’ Raniere because she was attracted to him and wanted to learn from him. As an adult, she fully consented to intimacy with Huck on his terms and later changed her mind, and became regretful, withdrawing consent after he was arrested and claiming she was abused.
Expanding on the precedent that embarrassment is cause for the use of one name only, the prosecution has asked the judge that the following witnesses, though not victims of sex crimes, be referred to only by their first names because use of their full names might be prejudicial to the prosecution. They are Anita Bath, Harry Cox, Wayne Kerr and Mike Hunt.
Be Proud of Your Surname
Apropos of the trend to use first names, I recall a story, said to be true, of a man named Thomas Dickhout, who petitioned the court to change his name.
Dickhout is an old German name, and a branch of the family came to the USA in the 18th century. One of Thomas’ forbears, Johann Heinrich Dickhout, was a schoolmaster in Stone Arabia, NY, when he wed Anna Catharina Teigert also of Stone Arabia, NY, on 16 Aug 1778.
The judge said, “Your name is Thomas Dickhout. What name do you want to change it to?”
Thomas replied, “James, your honor.”
The judge said, “Thomas James?”
“No,” Thomas replied. “James Dickhout.”
And so the court ordered it entered into the record.