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16-30038 - USA v. Maldonado

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16-30038 - USA v. Maldonado
April 10, 2017
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Judge Mark G. Mastroianni: ELECTRONIC ORDER entered denying 59 Motion for Recusal as to Carlos Maldonado (1). Defendant argues this court should recuse itself from the pending case because it presided over a plea and sentencing of Defendant on a previous occasion for a separate case. That separate case was initiated in this court on September 18, 2014, a plea hearing occurred on January 12, 2015, and the sentencing took place on April 15, 2015. As Defendant has pointed out, I was no longer District Attorney when charges were initiated on the previous matter but did serve in that capacity during the period Defendant was being investigated by law enforcement. Several individuals were charged as a result of the same investigation (Dkt. No. 60, Ex. B), and I presided over the multiple federally indicted cases. Based on the examination of various dockets for individuals federally charged, I recused myself from one of the cases based on reasons unrelated to my service as District Attorney during the time this investigation was ongoing. I denied one individual's recusal request based on the same point now being raised by Defendant in this case. See U.S. v. Santini, 14-cr-30031-MGM (Dkt. Nos. 77, 78). Defendant did not raise any recusal issue in the previous matter now being put at issue. The court had no memory, at the time of those prior cases, or currently, about the specifics of the law enforcement investigation in that matter or any persons targeted. While it is likely I was aware, as District Attorney, of the investigation identified by Defendant, it was not one of those that I had involvement in. Defendant's memorandum and Exhibit B indicate the police chief gave a media interview about the investigation and arrest but notably did not name the District Attorney's Office as part of the collaboration. I was sworn in as a Federal District Judge in early June of 2014. Since that time, I have paid very close attention to examining the historical and current circumstances of all criminal cases for potential conflict issues based on my service as District Attorney. This process is undertaken regardless of any party raising the issue or not and has identified numerous conflicts which required my entry of a recusal. As part of my regular procedure, I examined Defendant's previous case at the time it was first assigned to me and identified no basis for recusal.Defendant asserts that as the District Attorney I was involved in "critical decision(s) in his former case"; however, there was no pending case when I served as District Attorney. As to the law enforcement investigation, I made no critical decisions related to any specific aspect of that particular investigation. As District Attorney, there were many investigations that occurred as part of the regular law enforcement operations which neither I nor the office would be aware of or become involved with until indictment/complaint review. Nothing about the functioning of the District Attorney's Office generally, under the particular circumstances of this case, raise the "appearance of partiality" as asserted by Defendant. This ruling is consistent with that entered in open court in U.S. v. Santini, 14-cr-30031-MGM, where the defendant was indicted in this court as a result of the same investigation at issue here. See Tr. of Mot. Hrg April 29, 2015 (attached). (Bartlett, Timothy)