The judge who will oversee former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack‘s Wednesday sentencing hearing has demanded “proof of COVID-19 vaccination” from all those attending the proceeding. That’s according to an order posted last Wednesday evening on the case’s docket.
Mack, 38, pleaded guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. Because she “provided substantial assistance to the government” in cases against certain co-defendants, federal prosecutors wrote in a recent sentencing memorandum that they hoped for a sentence “below” the standard range of 168 to 210 months (14 to 17.5 years) for the average defendant who admitted to those counts. Mack has asked for zero jail time and said she’s already suffered enough.
Senior United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, a Bill Clinton appointee who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to his post in the Eastern District of New York, said as follows in relation to the upcoming hearing — which is occurring as COVID-19 numbers have generally plummeted in the Tri-State area:
ORDER: Defendant Allison Mack’s sentencing hearing will be held on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. in the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein Ceremonial Courtroom, 225 Cadman Plaza E. The court expects limited seating to be available in the courtroom for members of the public. If necessary, overflow seating with a livestream of the proceedings will be available. All attendees, including counsel for the parties, media representatives, and members of the public, are advised that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for entrance to the Ceremonial Courtroom. All attendees will be required to provide the court with their name and contact information for contact tracing purposes. Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 6/23/2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an explosion of remote federal court hearings in attempts to slow the spread of the sometimes-deadly contagion. Traditionally, federal courts have been hesitant to allow technological access to their proceedings, though there are rare exceptions. The pandemic forced an immediate slowdown in court proceedings — including Mack’s. For those preliminary proceedings which have occurred, remote access became common in districts which sought to protect health and safety while also protecting the Sixth Amendment rights of defendants to be tried in public and the First Amendment rights of journalists and others who wish to observe the legal process unfold.
A separate administrative order signed Tuesday by EDNY Chief Judge Margo K. Brodie applies to all cases in the Eastern District of New York, where Mack will be sentenced. It says remote proceedings will continue for certain types of hearings over the course of the next ninety days:
Pursuant to the CARES Act and Administrative Order 2021-05, I have reviewed the need to continue for a fifth time the authorization to conduct proceedings remotely. I find that since the issuance of Administrative Order 2021-05, the public health crisis has caused, is causing, and is expected to continue to cause disruption throughout this District, and to the functioning of the courts within this District.
The administrative order noted that “many people, including court employees, have not been vaccinated, and continued vigilance with mitigation strategies remains important.” It also noted that “the majority of inmates have not been vaccinated” at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, where most EDNY criminal defendants are incarcerated, and that remote proceedings are in the inmates’ best interest as well.
The overarching administrative order continued by saying that “because the vaccination status of attorneys, jurors, members of the media, members of the public, and others in the courthouse may not be known, health and safety protocols, including mask and social distancing requirements, remain in place in the public spaces of the courthouse.”
“These protocols are subject to each Judge’s discretion in the courtroom,” it said — thus the vaccination card requirement for those who attend Mack’s sentencing in person.
Felony sentencing hearings are among the proceedings Judge Brodie identified as among those that “should continue to be held remotely to the maximum extent possible.” But online EDNY court calendars suggest most sentencing hearings are being handled in person — and Mack’s is one of them.
Law&Crime has several newsgathering teams at the courthouse and will report fully on the sentencing hearing after it begins to unfold.
[image via Jemal Countess/Getty Images]
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