Monday, June 24, 2024

Lawyers for ex-cartel boss ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán file appeal

Lawyers for Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán have filed a second appeal to overturn his conviction and sentence of life plus 30 years handed down last year after he was found guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering, homicide, kidnapping and other charges. 

The 245-page appeal was filed with the New York Second Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday night. “Chapo Guzmán’s prosecution was marred by rampant excess and overreach, both governmental and judicial,” lead attorney Marc Fernich wrote in the motion. 

Last summer lawyers for the imprisoned Sinaloa Cartel leader filed an initial appeal the day after his sentence was handed down, arguing that a member of the jury told Vice News that several jurors regularly followed the case on social media during the trial in violation of the judge’s orders. 

The appeal was denied.

“This request is the textbook definition of a fishing expedition, rather than clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence that a specific, nonspeculative impropriety has occurred,'” the judge wrote at the time. 

Mariel Colón Miró, a 27-year-old attorney who is part of Guzmán’s legal team, hopes the latest motion will result in a new trial for the former cartel kingpin. “We are very optimistic that something positive will come out of this,” she told reporters, noting that the process could take from two to five years.

Guzmán, 63, is serving out his sentence in Florence, Colorado’s “Supermax” prison, the most secure penal institution in the country and known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” 

The new appeal repeats the allegations of jury misconduct and also argues that because Guzmán was maintained in total isolation following his extradition to the United States in January 2017 he was prevented from collaborating with his lawyers on his defense before and during his trial.  

“These measures of total confinement, extreme torture even when his innocence had to be presumed (before his conviction) violated his fifth and sixth amendments,” Colón said.

The attorney, who joined the defense team right after passing the bar exam, says her last visit with her client was in March before visits to the prison was banned due to the coronavirus. She said solitary confinement has left him anxious and depressed. 

“He’s even more alone now after Covid-19,” Colón told CNN last month. “They completely canceled all visits, legal and social. He was allowed three hours a week of outdoor exercise but that has also been suspended in order to limit his contact with the guards, so of course this has been hard, or harder on him and it has affected Mr. Guzmán emotionally and psychologically in my opinion.”

Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Ray Donovan, who spent years investigating the former head of the Sinaloa Cartel, hds little sympathy for the drug lord, who he said was convicted on a “mountain” of evidence.

“Thousands of people died or were ordered killed because of the Sinaloa Cartel. So yeah, he doesn’t leave his cell. It is boring. It’s monotonous. It’s a daily routine. It is very sad but here’s the difference. He’s alive.”

Source: El Universal (sp), CNN (en)

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