Defense attorney Joseph Tully appeared on the One American podcast hosted by Chase Geiser. Tully spoke about Keith Raniere’s Rule 33 motion, and said if he gets a hearing and a chance to call FBI agents, they won’t testify. They’ll plead the 5th. Here are some edited excerpts from the 49-minute interview.
Evidence for New Trial
My approach for this case, or any case, is five words, “what does the evidence show?”
Follow the evidence. I didn’t take anyone’s word for it. I worked with three top-level computer forensic experts. The evidence shows the FBI tampered with a hard drive and a computer card.
The evidence is overwhelming, but the government may fall back on “this only affects the possession of child pornography and the sexual exploitation of a minor charges.”
I think the better argument is that all charges should be vacated, because child porn and child exploitation charges were the worst charges. These were falsely presented to a jury.
Clearly, these charges tainted every other charge in the case. The co-defendants were united, and, had they successfully presented evidence that their intent in NXIVM was to do good, to make the world a better place, they would have beaten the racketeering charges. All the main, substantive charges, they had defenses for if they had stood together and held their ground.
Once the child victim accusations came out, all the co-defendants accepted pleas. I think the child porn and child exploitation charges affect all Mr. Raniere’s charges and all the charges for the co-defendants.
Why Tamper If You Don’t Need to?
The woman in the photographs [Camila] did not testify at trial. I understand she gave a statement at a restitution hearing, and that’s the extent of her testimony in this case.
All the evidence that the experts found of tampering supports the government’s narrative of [Camila] being underage. If the photos were taken when she was a minor, there would be no need to tamper with the evidence.
Procedure of Appeal and Tampering Motion
Before I came in on the case, a previous attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, filed an appeal. An excellent attorney, she had previously done the appeal for Bill Cosby and was successful. I came in on the case after the appeal was filed, and then I did a supplemental brief.
On the day oral arguments were heard in the appellate court, I filed a motion for a new trial in the district court. The district court is where the jury trial happened. We’re asking for a new trial. It’s called a rule 33 motion.
Motion for Judge Disqualification
In going through the jury trial, I saw substantial evidence that the judge was biased, and our sixth amendment gives us the right to a fair trial, which includes a fair and impartial judge. I think a fair reading of the record shows the judge favored the prosecution.
I think an average person would say the judge had it out for Mr. Raniere.
The law allows you to ask the judge to recuse themselves in a case where there’s evidence of partiality, where they’re not being fair, and that’s what I did.
I didn’t exaggerate anything. I didn’t lessen anything. I didn’t pull punches. I told the truth. I pointed to instances in the record, interpreted it, and said a reasonable person looking at the facts would view the judge as possibly biased.
The judge acknowledged receiving the motions for the new trial based on the tampering and the recusal motion.
The judge said, “Look there’s a pending appeal. We will wait to hear from the appellate court about what to do with these filings here.”
In a sense, it was good, because the district judge didn’t just ignore it, throw it out, or toss it out on a technicality.
Everybody who watches TV or movies thinks the bad guy is getting away based on a technicality.
Again, everything, the law, the rules, how a judge behaves, and how the government behaves, is overwhelmingly stacked against somebody facing charges.
I’ve seen a lot more rulings favor the government based on a technicality than help somebody accused.
No Need for Tampering Motion If Appeal Succeeds
The district judge is waiting for the appeal to be decided. We’re all waiting for the appeal to be decided. Bonjean’s appeal was excellent. I think my supplement raised good issues.
We might never get to the Rule 33, because the appellate court may take the multitude of legal issues presented in the appeal and the supplement and rule in Raniere’s favor.
FBI Agents Will Plead 5th
In some instances, the tampering is to a scientific certainty, so it’s not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s even better than that.
If I can get a hearing, we would be allowed to confront our accusers. I’d be allowed to call them as witnesses and have them testify. Based on the strength of the evidence in this case, my reasoned opinion is that many FBI employees and people who I could prove collaborated with them, would not be able to testify.
They would have to take the Fifth Amendment, or else they would be admitting to evidence tampering or testifying in ways that would be damaging for them in terms of tampering with evidence. If I’m not able to cross-examine these individuals, it puts the viability of a retrial in doubt.
But everything is up in the air at this point.
A worst-case scenario is the judge denies everything. The evidence never sees the light of day in court, where I can cross-examine witnesses, present the experts, put them under oath, and have them testify under oath as to each aspect of the tampering.
Normally, when you face charges, anything the government or a judge can do to screw you over is what happens. The reason they don’t have betting on criminal law cases is because if you bet on the government, you would be a billionaire because they always win.
Judges are compliant with the government. It’s like they want to be buddies.
There are good judges out there, but the vast majority align themselves with the government.
We don’t have these angelic neutral judges that the Constitution tells us we should have. Sometimes, we glimpse judges breaking that allegiance to the government. I see inklings of that. There are good judges and good prosecutors. There are good members of law enforcement. Unfortunately, they’re in the minority.
The vocal majority believe in the us-versus-them mentality, where they wear the white hats. They’re the good guys, and even if they break the rules or the law, they’re doing it for the greater good.
The Role of the Defense Attorney
My job is to pursue truth. Many people think a defense attorney is out there to get their guilty client off. Defense attorneys must follow the evidence. You don’t have to lie, cheat or steal to defend your client. A defense attorney caught lying to the court or the prosecution loses credibility.
I see prosecutors get away with outright lying and judges bend backward to find against the accused, but I’m a defense attorney. I take pride in what I do.
Truth Is on Raniere’s Side
My job is to pursue justice, and in this case, the truth and justice align on the side of Mr. Raniere.
All I need is a fair shot in court. Just get me into court. Let me call people under oath and put my experts on. I can prove to a scientific certainty that evidence tampering happened that all suspiciously favors the government. Therefore, the evidence they used against Mr. Raneire was incompetent and should not have been used against him.