John Balazs is an attorney in Sacramento, California, specializing in criminal defense, including appeals, habeas corpus, pardons, expungements, and civil forfeiture actions. After graduating from UCLA Law School in 1989, he clerked for Judge Harry Pregerson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. John was an Assistant Federal Defender in Fresno and Sacramento from 1992-2001. Please email EDCA items of interest to Balazslaw@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @balazslaw.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. The law can change rapidly and information in this blog can become outdated. Do your own research or consult with an attorney.
The C-Span video of the Unabomber investigation and trial program held at the Sacramento federal court on November 19, 2014, and hosted by the Eastern District Historical Society and Sacramento Federal Bar Association, is available here.
Although I didn't attend last Wednesday, the Sacramento Federal Bar Association and the Eastern District Historical Society hosted what I heard was an excellent presentation on the Theodore Kaczynski "Unabomber" case at the federal courthouse, moderated by Judge Shubb.
Thanks to guest blogger AFD Tim Zindel for providing this recap:
Last Wednesday, Judge Shubb and the Eastern District Historical Society recalled another celebrated Eastern District case, U.S.. v. Theodore Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. The program featuring four key players will be broadcast on C-SPAN.
FBI agent Terry Turchie led FBI's UNABOM task force when, in late 1995, David Kaczynski read the Unabomber manifesto, recognized his brother in it, and led the Bureau to Kaczynski's tiny cabin in Montana. Gary Wright, a Salt Lake City man, remembered lifting a piece of lumber left outside hiscomputer store in 1987. It detonated and blew him across the parking lot, leaving him scarred by hundreds of bits of shrapnel. He was the Unabomber's 11th victim.
Former Eastern District AUSA Steve Lapham and former Federal Defender Quin Denvir squared off at the aborted trial. Both recalled the impact of pretrial rulings by Judge Garland Burrell, who attended the program but did not participate. Denvir had challenged the search of the cabin, which was largely premised on David Kaczynski's suspicion and on similarities between language in the manifesto and in letters his brother had written to family years before. Denvir said that if FBI had found a pound of marijuana instead of evidence that Kaczynski was the Unabomber, he believes the evidence would have been ordered suppressed.
Lapham knew the evidence against Kaczynski was unshakeable - FBI had found the Unabomber's typewriter and a cache of unique trigger devices identical to those used in the bombs. But when Kaczynski learned before trial that his lawyers planned to portray him as mentally ill, he asked to represent himself. Judge Burrell deemed his request untimely, which put the expected guilty verdict - and the death penalty - at risk. On the eve of trial, Attorney General Janet Reno authorized the government to settle for a life sentence, but only on condition that Kaczynski waive appeal of the ruling on his search motion. Kaczynski pled.
A link to the C-SPAN broadcast will be posted at the Historical Society's website, EDCA court history, where you can also find a link to the Society's earlier program on the trial of Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who was convicted in the District of a 1975 attempt to shoot President Gerald Ford in Capitol Park.
Checks totaling more than $225,000 raised from an auction of items belonging to the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, will be distributed among four of the serial bomber's victims, a federal judge has ordered.
In New York, a federal death penalty prosecution of a reputed mobster serving a life without parole sentence cost an estimated $10 million in public funds. The jury voted 12-0 for another life sentence. NY Times, 6/2.
According to the Sacramento Bee, 5/21/11, the EDCA court denied Theodore Kaczynski's motion to delay the government's auction of his personal property. No word yet from the Ninth Circuit on his similar motion filed in that court. [Updated: The Ninth Circuit denied Kaczynski's motion on 5/25/11].
On the eve of the government's auction of Theodore Kaczynski's personal property, the Sacramento Bee and other media are reporting that the FBI has sought a sample of his DNA in connection with the unsolved Tylenol poisonings in the Chicago area in the 1980s. I was one of the attorneys who represented Kaczynski in the Unabomber criminal case in federal court in Sacramento. I have agreed to represent Mr. Kaczynski with respect to this FBI investigation. I am completely convinced of his innocence and that he had no involvement whatsoever in these incidents.
Although the media is widely reporting that Theodore Kaczynski's personal property (including the typewriter shown here) will be sold at an online auction starting next week with the proceeds going towards restitution, see, e.g.CNN, 5/12/11, Sacramento Bee, 5/13/11WGN TV, 5/12/11, and ABC Local, 5/12/11, on Monday, Kaczynski filed "urgent" motions in both the Ninth Circuit and district court to delay the auction. (Kaczynski also has appeal No. 10-10495 regarding the sale of his property still pending in the Ninth Circuit). Neither Court has ruled on his motions yet. Here's an excerpt from the CNN Story:
Following a lengthy court battle, the U.S. Marshals will auction off "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski's personal effects online beginning later this month, with proceeds to compensate some of his victims.
The online auction will begin May 18 and run through June 2, the Marshals said in a statement Thursday. Among about 60 items up for sale are personal documents such as driver's licenses, birth certificates and checks; academic transcripts; typewriters, and "more than 20,000 pages of written documents, including the original handwritten and typewritten versions" of Kaczynski's manifesto, authorities said.
The auction will be conducted by the General Services Administration, the Marshals said. A catalog of the items will be available on the GSA's auction website when the sale begins.
During a hearing of almost two hours Monday before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr., decisions were made concerning how to redact portions of more than 40,000 pages of handwritten chronicles, journals and correspondence taken out of Kaczynski's Montana cabin. His capture there on April 3, 1996, ended the longest terrorist campaign in U.S. history and an 18-year manhunt.
Now 68, Kaczynski is doing life without parole at a "supermax" prison in Florence, Colo.
He wanted to donate the original copies of his writings, much of which reflect his strident anti-technology views, to the University of Michigan. He lost that battle early last year when the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the government could sell the documents and apply the proceeds to the $15 million in restitution he was ordered to pay his victims.