Prosecutors in the federal trial of Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman enjoy unfair access to a judge’s ear, lawyers for the accused Mexican drug lord said in court papers.
Lawyers for Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman are getting steamed with prosecutors for talking to the judge about the case without keeping the defense in the loop on the discussions.
All the backchannel chatter from Brooklyn federal prosecutors to Judge Brian Cogan is harming Guzman’s right to a fair, public trial "and threatens to undermine the integrity of these proceedings," the defense said in court papers filed Monday.
Now Guzman’s lawyers are looking to get in on the conversation.
They want to see the documents that the prosecutors have given only to Cogan, or at least some summary. They also want prosecutors to get Cogan’s permission when making submissions.
Prosecutors commonly use the so-called "ex parte" submissions, said defense lawyers Michelle Gelernt, Michael Schneider and Edward Zas. Even still, they said courts "have long recognized that it is a dangerous procedure’ when the government has ‘private access to the ear of the court.’"
Guzman’s lawyers say prosecutors have used the direct line to Cogan four times — each in connection with high-stakes issues.
The submissions have been used to justify arguments denying Guzman access to his Mexican lawyers and visitation with his beauty queen wife, said the defense. They said prosecutors also resorted to the filings when fighting for things like tough rules on who’s allowed to see case material.
Court papers show prosecutors have repeatedly fretted about things like witness safety in their case against the Sinaloa Cartel leader when mentioning these filings directly to the judge.
The defense said being in the dark on what Cogan’s hearing from the feds means they have "no meaningful way to challenge the allegations contained in these submissions."
Cogan gave prosecutors a June 6 deadline to respond.