The Federal Prosecutor’s Office charged Wanda Vazquez Garced violate the provisions of a gag order set by the presiding judge of the Federal Court for the District of Puerto Rico, Raul Arias Marxuachafter the former governor published a tweet on August 27 in which she recreated a quote from the South African lawyer and activist Bram Fisher.
The disclosure of the content of the motion of potential violation of the gag order, filed by the head of the Public Integrity Division of the Justice Department, Corey R Amundsonand for him Prosecutor Nicholas W. Cannonhappened after Arias Marxuach issued a memorandum and order this Wednesday, in which he denied the requests to seal the aforementioned document and two other motions.
The memorandum and order responds to a motion filed today, Wednesday, by Noticel journalist Oscar Serrano in which he asked the court to review the documents that had already been sealed to determine if such action was necessary and in which he asked that the parties , in the future, file two versions of your motions and/or documents: one available to the public and the media in which they only redact the parts that should not be revealed, and an unredacted version to be sealed in its entirety.
Although Arias Marxuach questioned Serrano’s legitimacy in requesting to intervene in the case, he acknowledged that the federal court “has generally allowed limited intervention by the media for purposes of gaining access to judicial proceedings.”
“Since this situation is pending, particularly in the First Circuit, this court will refrain from ruling on Mr. Serrano’s motion. However, the court shares the concerns outlined by Mr. Serrano and, therefore, will address these issues,” added Arias Marxuach.
The presiding judge noted that the gag order does not obligate the parties to litigate the case through sealed motions. “Consequently, from now on, the parties will comply with the rules of the Federal Court for the District of Puerto Rico related to requests to seal documents and will refrain from requesting the unnecessary classification of documents that should be available to the public,” he wrote. .
After denying the requests to seal the three documents, Arias Marxuach commented that “this court is particularly concerned about the request to seal motion 58, a simple request for additional time. Such requests will not be restricted from now on without due justification.”
The motion of potential violation of the gag order, whose filing by the Prosecutor’s Office was reviewed last Tuesday by El Nuevo Díamaintains that, contrary to the stipulations set by Arias Marxuach on August 12, the former governor reproduced a quote from Fischer that reads “The evident injustice is there for all those who are not blinded by prejudice to see it.”
Amundson and Cannon contend that “although Vázquez Garced does not make direct reference to his criminal case, this type of communication is certainly capable – if not the (primary) intention – of influencing ‘public opinion regarding the merits of a case.’ . Furthermore, there is nothing in the tweet to suggest that it refers to something that lest the criminal case that is pending.”
“Notably, this is not the first time that Vázquez Garced and/or his lawyers have spoken publicly about the merits of the (federal) government investigation. regarding the conduct that led to the filing of the charges,” the officials added.
Amundson and Cannon asked Arias Marxuach to review the tweet and take appropriate action.
The gag order issued by Arias Marxuach on August 12 prohibits parties to the case from speaking to the media or posting on social media “any information” that is restricted in any way. That is, they can express themselves on public motions or situations discussed in open court.
The order also states that they must not emit expressions that “may interfere with a fair trial or prejudice any defendant, the government or the administration of justice.”
Likewise, the judge ruled that “expressions or information intended to influence public opinion on the merits of this case are specifically designated as information that could harm a party.”
The second document is a motion filed by the defense of Vázquez Garced requesting an extension of time, until October 2, to file the order to show cause that Ariax Marxuach issued on August 12 as to why the gag order should not stay active. The presiding judge granted the motion today, but Vázquez Garced will have until September 7 to file his reply to the gag order.
The third document, precisely, was the reply from Mark Rossini, one of the co-defendants, in which he requests that the gag order be removed on the grounds that it is detrimental to his case.
Incidentally, Arias Marxuach suspended the motion for possible violation of the gag order and gave the prosecution until September 7 to respond to Rossini’s reply in opposition to the gag order.
Finally, Arias Marxuach approved the requests pro hac vice of the lawyers Lilly Ann Sanchez Y Michael Zweibach to represent the third co-defendant, Venezuelan banker Julio Herrera Velutini, during the judicial process. An order pro hac vice you file in court to request that a lawyer be allowed to practice in a jurisdiction in which he or she is not licensed to practice law.
Vazquez Garced was arrested on August 4 by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Rossini, a financial adviser and former FBI agent, turned himself in several days later, while the third co-defendant, Julio Herrera Velutini, turned himself in today, Wednesday, at the San Juan FBI Office.
According to a Federal Grand Jury indictment, the three conspired for Vázquez Garced to receive contributions to his gubernatorial campaign in exchange for removing George Joyner from the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF) in order to put an end to the audit that had detected suspicious transactions in Herrera Velutini’s bank accounts.