US District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis has granted Keith Raniere’s attorneys a third extension to reply to the US Attorney’s response to his Rule 33 motion for a new trial.
This pushes the deadline to November 30, 2023.
The Rule 33 motion hinges on Raniere’s claim that the FBI tampered with evidence leading to his 2019 conviction for racketeering, sex trafficking and forced labor.
Raniere alleges the FBI tampered with metadata on digital files, and then planted these files on a hard drive, which sustained racketeering predicate acts of possessing child pornography, and the sexual exploitation of a minor.
Raniere is currently serving a 120-year sentence at the maximum-security USP Tucson.
This facility houses many inmates convicted for sexual offenses.
While this marks the third request for an extension by Raniere’s counsel, the justifications remain consistent – the challenges of coordinating with an incarcerated client during lockdown.
Raniere’s attorney, Arthur L. Aidala, mentioned in his October 18 request to Judge Garaufis that the lockdown hampered his ability to communicate with Raniere in preparing and approving his reply to the government’s motion to dismiss his Rule 33 motion.
Aidala wrote to Judge Garaufis:
Although this is the third request by the undersigned counsel on behalf of Plaintiff for an extension to file a Reply, we feel it necessary considering his current circumstances and the difficulties they pose to facilitating attorney-client communication.
Currently, Mr. Raniere has been on lockdown since our last request and we have not been able to contact him or communicate with him at all.
We also have no knowledge as to when we can expect to be able to speak to him again. Once we are advised that the lockdown has been lifted, we will be able to resume communication with him.
Since we cannot reasonably speculate on when we will be able to once again consult with our client, the undersigned counsel respectfully requests the Court for an extension to file the Response until November 30, 2023.
While the reasons for USP Tucson’s lockdown remain undisclosed, such measures are usually initiated due to significant internal threats, such as violence, potential escape attempts, or contraband discovery. During a lockdown, the prison’s standard operations are halted, confining inmates to their cells. Meals are brought to their cells.
Absent an extended lockdown, and a further extension for filing, November 30 is the deadline for Raniere’s much-anticipated reply.
Following this, Judge Garaufis will decide on the merits of granting a new trial, dismissing the motion, or calling an evidentiary hearing.
Should the motion be dismissed, Raniere’s legal pathway will steer towards an appeal to the 2nd Circuit and, if that fails, potentially the Supreme Court.