Phoenix, AZ – Keith Raniere, the plaintiff in an ongoing legal case against defendants US Attorney General Merrick Garland and others, has filed a motion to request an extension of the deadline to submit his response in opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The motion, filed through Raniere’s legal counsel, cites logistical challenges due to Raniere’s incarceration as a reason for the request.
Raniere’s legal team explains in the motion that they were unable to communicate and consult with their client due to his placement in the Special Housing Unit [SHU]. As a result, they are requesting additional time to have a meaningful discussion with Raniere to finalize the response.
This marks the fourth request for an extension made by Raniere’s legal team. However, they believe that considering Raniere’s current circumstances and the difficulties they pose to attorney-client communication, seeking an extension is necessary.
Raniere’s Attorney Requests Extension Due to Lack of Access to Client
Raniere’s new lead attorney, Arthur Aidala, states he has not had sufficient access or time to discuss the case with Raniere, with their last communication taking place prior to November 1, 2023. Since then, Raniere has been placed in involuntary protective custody, further hindering their ability to communicate with him.
Aidala requested the deadline for filing the response in opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment be extended to December 18, 2023, or any other date deemed convenient by the court.
The motion has been filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, and a proposed order granting the motion is included with the filing. It now awaits consideration by Judge Raner C. Collins, the senior United States District Judge presiding over the case.
The defendants have not yet responded to the motion, and it is unclear when the court will rule on the matter.
Raniere, currently serving a 120-year sentence at USP Tucson for charges related to his role as the leader of NXIVM, filed a civil rights complaint against Garland and other officials. The lawsuit was filed in May 2022 in the District of Arizona, in which Raniere alleges his constitutional rights were violated by prison officials, denying him sufficient access to his attorneys and his power of attorney, Suneel Chakravarty.
Before he filed the lawsuit, he had regular access to his attorneys by phone and in person. Since filing the lawsuit, he has had minimal access to his attorneys. Shortly after filing the lawsuit, prison officials assigned him to the SHU.
Raniere’s Protective Custody
Raniere has been in protective custody since July 25, 2022 at USP Tucson, after an attack on him by Adonis Withers led to the prison assigning both men to the SHU for fighting.
Prisoners may be placed in involuntary protective custody if they face credible threats of harm from other inmates, have a high risk of being victimized, or if their presence in the general population poses a risk to the safety and security of the institution.
Withers spent about a month in the SHU, was released to the general population, and then transferred to another prison. Raniere has been trying to get out of the SHU for more than a year.
Raniere’s Uncertain Condition
It is unknown what Raniere’s true mental and physical condition is after spending a year and four months in the SHU, some of it in solitary confinement and for several months with an intersex prisoner named Toni Fly.
Ineffective Legal Maneuvers
Suing the Bureau of Prisons is like a mouse fighting with a cat. It is unlikely to end well, and the conditions one seeks to improve may not only fail to improve, but also the mouse may wish he could return to their previous situation.
Clare Bronfman learned this lesson when she sued the BOP after being transferred from a maximum-security prison in Philadelphia to Danbury low-security prison. She sued in Connecticut federal court to get transferred to the Danbury prison camp.
Despite strong legal grounds to support her demand to be transferred, the heiress overlooked that she was in BOP custody. To avoid potentially losing the lawsuit, the BOP simply transferred her out of the jurisdiction and sent her back to maximum security in Philadelphia, where she remains now and likely will remain until she leaves BOP custody in 2025.
In the case of Raniere, he seems to have forgotten that might makes right, and for the BOP, possession is all ten points of the law.
As a result, his condition has gone from bad to worse to extremely bad. It is unlikely to improve anytime soon.