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Defendants Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman arrived at a plea agreement with the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York to resolve charges deriving from their participation in the New York edition of the George Floyd riots, this one involving the distribution of Molotov cocktails to the crowd. Indeed, Rahman tossed one of the Molotov cocktails into a police car.
On October 20, 2021, Judge Brian Cogan held a hearing during which he accepted the defendants’ guilty plea to count 7 of the indictment (possessing and making an explosive device). A listing of the docket entries in the case is accessible online here and to registered PACER users on the Case Management/Electronic Court Filing system used by the federal courts here.
The court’s acceptance of the guilty plea invokes Rule 11(d) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Rule 11(d) provides that a defendant is permitted to withdraw a guilty plea after the court accepts it and before sentencing only if “the defendant can show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal.” The text of Rule 11 is posted online here.
In the case of Mattis and Rahman, however, the prosecutors agreed to reduce the charges to one count of conspiracy and to recommend a vastly reduced sentence. No showing of cause for the withdrawal of defendants’ guilty plea was offered or made.
I take it that the Biden Department of Justice believes in the merits of the defendants’ cause in the riots. It doesn’t want to be so harsh. I wrote about the Biden Department of Justice’s treatment of another such case in “Felony murder in a good cause.” We posted the Washington Free Beacon editorial condemning the scenario in the Mattis/Rahman case in “How the left learned to stop worrying…” (and love domestic terrorism).
The prosecutors filed a May 10 letter setting forth what it called “an alternative resolution of the charges in this case[.]” The prosecutors’ May 10 letter is appended to the Free Beacon editorial and the Power Line post.
The letter, however, didn’t bother to set forth any reason for the withdrawal of the defendants’ guilty plea. Perhaps because the prosecutors agreed to the withdrawal they felt no obligation to set forth any reason for it despite the terms of Rule 11.
Judge Cogan held another plea hearing a week ago today. I have obtained and reviewed a copy of the hearing transcript. The transcript reflects Judge Cogan’s summary treatment of the defendants’ October 2021 guilty plea:
THE COURT: Okay, let’s do it that way. I assume both defense counsel are moving to withdraw the prior plea, right?
MR. [PETER] BALDWIN: Correct, your Honor.
MS. [SABRINA] SHROFF: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: All right, that motion is granted. Now let’s get down to what we’re doing today….
The court’s blessing of this farce at the least constitutes a disgusting footnote to it.