At a recent press conference for Team Raniere, the public learned Alan Dershowitz is now representing Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman in their attack on their convictions.
Dershowitz addressed the allegations of FBI tampering with digital photos that the prosecution used as the primary evidence of RICO predicate acts of possession of child porn and sexual exploitation of a child.
Here is what Dershowitz said:
If this alleged FBI malfeasance turns out to be true, as our experts say it is, then this is really historic. This is really an attempt to frame somebody based on manipulation of data. That’s just unacceptable in an American court, and in the American legal system.
Multiple experts have concluded that government tampering of digital photos is, at the very least, a highly likely conclusion. If true, this represents a level of corruption that is so unprecedented, so high, by whoever may be responsible, the current situation is simply untenable. There must be immediate action.
There should swiftly be an evidentiary hearing that will determine the truth. Appropriate relief may include a new trial, obviously, but it may also include dismissal of the indictment on the basis of outrageous government misconduct. There are cases supporting that form of relief.
If there is a hearing, Mr. Raniere wishes to attend by video conference, rather than be transported.
Prison transport is no joy ride.
But this is a really important test of our legal system. Whether you like Mr. Raniere or not, the question is, can we be fair, even to those who are despised?
I challenge the media to vigorously and critically examine and evaluate all the facts until it is fully heard and addressed. That’s the appropriate role of the media. If this alleged historical government malfeasance is true, then every additional day that Mr. Raniere was prompt has been behind bars waiting for this evidence to be heard in a court would be a furtherance of this injustice.
The Department of Justice has complete plenary authority to investigate its own cases. There have been numerous cases where the Justice Department has gone to court and sided with the defendants in the case, saying “this is a substantial enough claim that we too want to have an evidentiary hearing. We don’t want to leave the situation where it is now with very credible and serious claims of very serious misconduct and leave the record the way it is.”
So I would believe that the Attorney General of the United States, the head of the criminal division, and other reasonable people in the Justice Department, would be on our side on this issue of an evidentiary hearing. If the evidentiary hearing determines that there were changes in the dates which went to the innocence of the defendant, they should come in and join us in at least a motion for a new trial, perhaps dismissing the indictment.
So remember, the Justice Department is not in the business just of winning cases.
As the sign in front of the Justice Department says, justice is done essentially when the truth comes out. So they should be as interested in, as we are, of the truth coming out.
Also, if the evidentiary hearing somehow manages to disprove these claims, which seems very unlikely, that also benefits the Justice Department. So it’s a win-win for the Justice Department, and they ought to be seeking an evidentiary hearing as soon as possible.
Why Isn’t The Media Covering This?
I think the media often bases its priorities on the popularity of the defendant. If this were a defendant or defendants who were favored by the public, favored by the media, I think many of the media would jump on this immediately.
But when you have a situation where a defendant is widely despised, I think many journalists don’t want to be on the side of possibly seeing what they believe is a guilty person acquitted based on due process or constitutional violations.
As somebody who’s litigated these kinds of cases now for over 50 years, I can say there is nothing more important than the media, which is, in a democracy, ultimately, the court of last resort.
The media looking into these cases and looking very, very hard at these cases, whether you like or dislike the defendant or the defendants, whether you approve or disapprove of generally at the Department of Justice to the FBI, those are not the issues.
The issue is, was there a manipulation here. Regardless of what other evidence may have been introduced, if there was a manipulation here, that really challenges our system of justice.
If this can happen to these two defendants, it could happen to a member of your family, to a friend, and even in the end to you.
And that’s why the media has to prioritize these serious claims of possible government misconduct.
If a defense attorney were ever accused of comparable tampering with evidence, there would be immediate media focus, and the defense attorney would be subject to discipline and possible disbarment, and you can’t have a double standard.
In fact, there is a double standard. The obligation is much higher on the government not to use improper means. It’s high on both sides.
But if anything, the obligation is higher on the government than it is on defense counsel.