Unbeknownst to many, following his conviction on Monday in a federal courtroom in Newark, in what was nothing short of a unveiled power-play by the US government, Paul Bergrin was transferred from Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC”) to the Essex County Jail. The justification was unclear – Bergrin had been housed in the MDC since his arrest in 2009. Despite the gripes of the US Marshals Service, who had to shuttle him between Brooklyn and Newark twice daily during each of his respective trials, he was always allowed to remain there. Only after a federal jury convicted him on all 23 counts for which he stood trial, including Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Witness Tampering, Drug Trafficking, and Racketeering, was he transferred to the Essex County Jail – and, adding insult to injury, put on suicide watch and placed in solitary confinement.
Bergrin’s supporting counsel, Lawrence Lustberg, filed a detailed letter with the US District Court on Wednesday, requesting Bergrin’s immediate return to MDC. Citing the fact that Bergrin still represents himself with respect to post-trial motions, sentencing, and his much-anticipated appeal, Lustberg explained that Bergrin’s voluminous paperwork and records remained in Brooklyn. Lustberg further explained that Bergrin communicated regularly with his supporting counsel via email through the federal inmate’s email system, his access to which had been cut off upon his transfer to the Essex County Jail.
“Although Mr. Bergrin appreciates the concern for his well-being, it is unnecessary: he is resolute in his desire to continue his legal fight and hopeful of its outcome. Indeed, the most psychologically difficult issue he faces at the moment results from his isolation at the Essex County Jail. Accordingly, if that is the reason for his transfer, it is unfounded.”
The order to return Bergrin to Brooklyn’s MDC came today, and was signed by none other than US District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh, who had presided over the trial and will likely be tasked with deciding Bergrin’s post-trial motions and handing down his sentence before the matter is taken up on appeal.
In a telephone interview today, Judge Cavanaugh conceded that Lustberg’s arguments made sense. “Fairness dictates that (Bergrin) be allowed to (continue to) represent himself in this matter,” said Cavanaugh. “It’s really not over….this guy is fighting for his life. I think it’s fair that he has the chance to do his best.”
For more information about the Cavanaugh interview, see the Star-Ledger article entitled, “Judge orders Paul Bergrin transferred from Essex jail back to Brooklyn federal facility.”
One thing is certainly for sure – it’s really not over. As for now, Bergrin’s sentencing remains scheduled for July 18th.