A Brooklyn judge reprimanded a defense lawyer for arguing that his jailed client was in “imminent danger” and should be released to home confinement after testing positive for the coronavirus — when he’d already fully recovered.
Brooklyn federal Judge Leo Glasser told attorney Robert Osuna during a telephone emergency bail hearing last week that “the representations in this petition that you made were reckless and were not true and there is every basis for sanctioning you.”
The judge opted not to punish Osuna, but said he had put his credibility in question by submitting a petition on behalf of James Gomez, 35, without vetting the assertions.
This could raise questions in the minds of some judges about the accuracy of thousands of compassionate release requests, cautioned Glasser who denied Gomez’s bid for early release.
Osuna said he was unable to reach his client, who was in quarantine for several weeks, to obtain updated information.
The lawyer had argued in a filing May 5 that Gomez, who is serving a five-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute cocaine at FCI Fort Dix in New Jersey, had tested positive for the virus and was in “imminent danger.”
Assistant US Attorney Josh Hafetz countered that while Gomez had tested positive April 17, his prison records and his own jail communications contradicted the claim he was at risk.
“He is on a phone call on May 4th for 15 minutes talking as happy as anyone I have heard,” Hafetz told the judge during the hearing. “In it, he says he feels fine and literally, in quotation marks, is saying I don’t have any more symptoms.”
He added that Gomez wrote a friend May 2 via email, “I feel 100%.”
Osuna didn’t immediately return a request for comment.