Maybe the third time will be the charm in Houston financier R. Allen Stanford’s efforts to get out of federal prison to help his lawyers prepare for his upcoming criminal trial. Today, Stanford filed a motion seeking release from pretrial detention — or dismissal of the indictment against him — on the ground that that his constitutional due process rights have been violated. Stanford alleges in a 37-page motion that he should be released from detention “on terms and conditions which will assure his appearance for trial” under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, the effective assistance of counsel and speedy trial clauses of the Sixth Amendment, and the prohibition against excessive bail clause of the Eighth Amendment. Senior U.S. District Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas denied two earlier requests from Stanford to release him from detention, and those decisions were affirmed on appeal, Stanford notes in his new motion. Hours after Stanford filed today’s motion, Hittner signed an order striking the document because it was not in 14-point font and double spaced and because it included names of lawyers not attorneys of record in the case. “This motion is premised on the obligation of counsel to illuminate ongoing constitutional violations and to seek judicial redress so that those violations do not become irremediable obstacles to a fair trial, as the continued pretrial incarceration of Mr. Stanford will do if it is not abated without delay,” Stanford alleges in the motion filed in United States v. Robert Allen Stanford, et al. Stanford alleges in the motion that he has been “subjected to substantial and undeniable punishment” before trial. “He has been physically assaulted; he has suffered significant medical injury and psychological debilitation; he was held in solitary confinement two separate times for a total of 40 days; he has been subjected to 335 days of pretrial incarceration as of May 18, 2010; and before his scheduled trial concludes, he will predictably serve another nonspeculative 439 days,” Stanford alleges. He alleges that before he was taken into custody in June 2009, he was a “healthy 59-year-old man, with no substantial physical or mental health issues.” Now, Stanford alleges in the motion, his incarceration has “reduced him to a wreck of a man: he has suffered potentially life-impairing illnesses; he has been so savagely beaten that he has lost all feeling in the right side of his face and has lost near field vision in his right eye.” He also alleges that he required reconstructive surgery after his “assault” while in prison; he was in solitary confinement; he’s been denied “all outside human contact with the exception of his attorneys”; and he experienced a “precipitate, severe, and ongoing deterioration of his mental and emotional health” because of the conditions of his confinement. He seeks to be released so he can help his attorneys review documents. He alleges it’s difficult for him to do so in prison, where he does not have Internet access. The lead prosecutor, Gregg Costa, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment. The motion was filed for Stanford by Robert S. Bennett, of Bennett Nguyen Joint Venture of Houston, with consulting on legal issues from Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School, and from solo practitioner Martin G. Weinberg of Boston. Neither Dershowitz nor Weinberg is an attorney of record for Stanford. Bennett did not immediately return a telephone message left at his office. On May 14, Michael Essmyer and his firm, Essmyer, Tritico & Rainey, filed a motion asking Hittner to allow them to withdraw from defending Stanford, on the ground they have “irreconcilable differences” with Bennett and because, they allege, Stanford notified them on May 14 that he has terminated them. Stanford has pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges related to an alleged conspiracy to defraud investors who bought about $7 billion in certificates of deposit sold through Stanford International Bank Ltd.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys