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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White
Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.
This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.
Friday, June 02, 2023
‘Cop City’ protest lawyers challenge use of domestic terrorism statute | Georgia | The Guardian
‘Cop City’ protest lawyers challenge use of domestic terrorism statute
"Attorneys for protester argue law is unconstitutional restraint on free speech as legal defense fund organizers also arrested
Attorneys representing an activist arrested while protesting against the building of “Cop City” in Georgia have launched a legal challenge to the use of a state domestic terrorism statute against protests, claiming an “act of free speech” is being unconstitutionally targeted, the Guardian can reveal.
The move comes amid the unprecedented arrests of organizers at a bail and legal defense fund that has helped some of the people arrested while protesting against the multimillion-dollar police and fire department training center planned for a forest south-east of Atlanta.
Cop City came to global attention after police shot dead an environmental protester in a raid on the forest and its defenders on 18 January – the first incident of its kind in US history.
Police staged a Swat-style raid on Wednesday on the Atlanta Solidarity Fund (ASF), arresting three of its members. The fund, operating in Atlanta since 2017, has helped some of the 42 protesters so far facing charges linked to protests against Cop City, nearly all of whom have been bailed out.
The legal challenge was filed by Stanley L Cohen, a New York lawyer, together with local co-counsel. Exclusively obtained by the Guardian, the writ of habeas corpus filed in DeKalb county superior court on behalf of Ariel Ebaugh, arrested on 13 December, challenges the constitutionality of the 2017 domestic terrorism statute that has been used against activists and their supporters.
The petition argues that “attempting by word or expressive action to alter, change, or coerce government policy is a quintessential act of free speech,” and that Ebaugh’s protest against Cop City was constitutionally protected. It calls the statute “unconstitutionally vague” and “overbroad”.
The veteran attorney, who has represented clients ranging from members of Hamas to Native American activists, told the Guardian: “I have not come across a more fundamentally unconstitutional statute limiting speech and assembly in 40 years of legal practice, at the state, federal or international level.”
If successful, the petition could “ultimately mean that charges for [Ebaugh and] the other defendants would be dismissed”, said Alex Joseph, an Atlanta-area former federal prosecutor who has been involved in efforts to stop the training center.
Meanwhile, at least a dozen officers with Atlanta police and the Georgia bureau of investigation arrived to a leafy Atlanta neighborhood in a Swat-style vehicle, long guns raised, arresting Marlon Kautz, Savannah Patterson and Adele Maclean and charging them with financial crimes, including money laundering and “charity fraud”.
Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr, and governor, Brian Kemp, both trumpeted the arrests on social media, with Kemp calling the three “criminals who facilitated and encouraged domestic terrorism”.
Arrest warrants accuse the three of being connected to Defend the Atlanta Forest (DTAF) – a group the state has said exists because the phrase is used on social media and elsewhere – and goes on to allege that DTAF is classified by the US homeland security department (DHS) as “domestic violent extremists”.
The same allegation was used in earlier arrest warrants, but the DHS itself debunked the claim in January, telling the Guardian that it “does not classify or designate any groups”.
The fund, one of nearly 100 similar organizations across the US, raises money to help arrested protesters with bail, legal defense and related needs. The arrests are “unprecedented” in the history of such funds in the US, which are “central to the notion of the rule of law” and have existed at least a century, said Jocelyn Simonson, a Brooklyn College law professor.
The state’s move drew rebuke from free speech and criminal justice experts, including the civil rights attorney Alec Karakatsanis, who called the arrests “bone-chilling”.
In Georgia, Democratic voices stepped forward in opposition to the state’s actions, including state senator Josh McLaurin, who told the Guardian it was “scary to think the state is trying to use the criminal legal system to crack down on lawful protests, at the direction of the attorney general”.
Georgia state representative Ruwa Romman said the arrests raise the question of whether authorities will also “criminalize other mutual-aid funds, like abortion funds, or funds to help immigrants navigate the legal system?”
Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, called attention to the raid’s timing – days before Atlanta city council must vote on approving more than $60m in funding for the center.
The raid’s timing was also only days before the 90-day window by which Victor Puertas and Luke Harper – who were arrested on 5 March and are the only protesters among the 42 charged with domestic terrorism still in jail – must be indicted or released on bail, according to Georgia law.
If either defendant needs help with paying bail, the National Bail Fund Network, a partner of the Atlanta fund, will be available, said Pilar Weiss, one of the network’s founders. The national organization has also assumed fundraising abilities on behalf of the Atlanta fund, Weiss added.
As this week’s events occurred, a growing number of individual attorneys and state and national organizations were also staging meetings and training sessions in preparation for defending the dozens of protesters who are out of jail, but remain unindicted, said Tiffany Williams Roberts, public policy director at the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights.
After Wednesday’s police raid, Devin Franklin, movement policy counsel at the center, has also been hearing from defense attorneys who are concerned about becoming targets of the state themselves. “We’re figuring out ways to quell those concerns,” he said.
Joseph, the former federal prosecutor, said the state’s actions display “typical tools prosecutors use”, including “casting as wide a net as possible” in order to affect the ability of people being arrested to serve as witnesses in defense of other defendants, or to pressure them to accept a plea deal.
“They don’t care about appearing legitimate or if the charges are thrown out in two years – they only care about the swift repression of speech,” she said."
Opinion | A Major Problem With Compulsory Mental Health Care Is the Medication - The New York Times
A Major Problem With Compulsory Mental Health Care Is the Medication
By Daniel Bergner
"Mr. Bergner is the author of “The Mind and the Moon: My Brother’s Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches.”
If severe mental illness, untreated, underlies the feeling of encroaching anarchy and menace around the homeless encampments of San Francisco or in the subways of New York City, then the remedy appears obvious. Let’s rescue those who, as New York’s mayor, Eric Adams, says, “slip through the cracks” of our mental health care systems; let’s give people “the treatment and care they need.”
It sounds so straightforward. It sounds like a clear way to lower the odds of tragic incidents occurring, like the chokehold killing of Jordan Neely, a homeless, psychiatrically troubled man, or the death of Michelle Alyssa Go, who was pushed off a Times Square subway platform to her death by a homeless man suffering with schizophrenia. Improving order and safety in public spaces and offering compassionate care seem to be convergent missions.
But unless we confront some rarely spoken truths, that convergence will prove illusory. The problems with the common-sense approach, as it’s currently envisioned, run beyond the proposed solutions we usually read about: funding more beds on hospital psychiatric wards, establishing community-based programs to oversee treatment when people are released from the hospital and providing housing for those whose mental health is made increasingly fragile by the constant struggle for shelter.
The most difficult problems aren’t budgetary or logistical. They are fundamental. They involve the involuntary nature of the care being called for and the flawed antipsychotic medications that are the mainstay of treatment for people dealing with the symptoms of psychosis, like hallucinatory voices or paranoid delusions, which can come with a range of severe psychiatric conditions.
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Existing laws in almost all states allow for mandatory care when a person is likely to cause “serious harm,” in the phrase of New York’s statute, to self or others. But many people view existing laws and implementation as too weak. Catalyzed by public fear, the effort now is to widen the net.
In California, at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s urging, the State Legislature last year passed the CARE Act, to be fully in place next year. The law has a soft name but is meant to broadly expand the use of court-ordered treatment, with antipsychotic drugs an essential element in the program.
In New York City, Mayor Adams has led a major push that would lower the standard for first responders to strap someone to a gurney, load them into an E.M.T. van and take them to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation and possible commitment, against their will. He would also make it easier to channel someone into court-mandated outpatient treatment.
These changes are couched in the language of fellow feeling. “It is not acceptable for us to see someone who clearly needs help and walk past them,” Mr. Adams has said. “We can do much more to help those among us in a severe mental health crisis, even when they are unable to, by no fault of their own, recognize their own needs.”
The mayor’s rhetoric refers to a psychiatric condition known as anosognosia — the state of being too sick, too far beyond reason, to recognize one’s own mental illness. It’s a diagnosis worth much debate, because it can be applied to anyone who doesn’t agree with a psychiatrist’s finding and can result in people being denied any real say in their own care. But it isn’t necessary to question anosognosia in order to question mandatory treatment. Because even if involuntary care may be warranted, the question remains: Does it work?
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Imagine being cut off from society by a tormented psyche and extreme poverty and then being hauled off to an emergency room, forcibly injected with a powerful drug like Haldol and held on a locked ward until being dispatched into a compulsory outpatient program. Will this set the stage for a stable life? Or will it add to a person’s trauma, sense of isolation and lack of agency — and lead to their slipping away from whatever program they’re ordered into and back toward dire instability? For a few, such intervention may be a positive turning point. But that’s not the likely result.
The New York City chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness — the country’s largest organization representing the mentally ill and their families — has protested on City Hall’s steps against Mr. Adams’s efforts to loosen standards for mandatory care. The New York City Bar Association takes the same position, and the World Health Organization has published guidance to eliminate involuntary psychiatric treatment altogether, because, according to Michelle Funk, who leads the W.H.O.’s work on mental-health policy, “Involuntary treatment can harm a person’s mental and physical health, exacerbating crisis situations, damaging relationships with the clinicians, family members and others involved in coercive measures and driving people away from the mental health care system.”
Compulsory care is deeply problematic in itself, but is made more so by the medications at its core. This isn’t to suggest that antipsychotics should not be prescribed for people enduring psychosis. It is to say that the drugs shouldn’t be considered — as they tend to be now — the required linchpin of treatment. Antipsychotics probably reduce hallucinations and delusions for around 60 percent of those who take them, but the science around their efficacy is far from definitive and some studies (though not all) indicate that long-term maintenance on the drugs may worsen outcomes.
Science hasn’t made great strides in antipsychotics since the drugs were first introduced seven decades ago. Their lack of precision remains largely the same, and because the drugs affect metabolic systems as well as dopamine pathways throughout the brain, they often have profound side effects: mental torpor, major weight gain, tics, spasms and a condition called akathisia, an overall jitteriness, as if a mad puppeteer is fighting perpetually for control of the person’s body.
Commonly, people abandon their antipsychotic drugs, whether they’re in mandatory treatment or the most sensitive, attentive voluntary programs. This is generally attributed to anosognosia and the disorganization that can come with mental illness, but it might well be seen as an outcome from the weighing of pros and cons.
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In any case, our current direction, toward more involuntary, medically centered care, probably won’t get us what we wish for: safer public spaces and fewer lost people.
We’re going to have to think less fearfully and more creatively, genuinely seeking the counsel of people who’ve learned to cope, in varied ways, with their psychiatric conditions. Beyond the bottom line of adequate housing, we’ll need to embrace approaches that may seem hazy in contrast to the chemistry of pharmaceuticals, but that can be the best hope for recovery. This will mean funding and fostering the kinds of supportive communities like Fountain House and the group meetings of the Hearing Voices Network, which combat isolation and despair with an emphasis on sharing experiences and solutions, but that are very few and far between even in a city like New York.
And it will mean coming up with new methods of care, partly by entrusting positions of leadership to those who’ve lived meaningful and flourishing lives with mental illness. By doubling down on existing methods, we’re only beckoning more failure.
Daniel Bergner is the author of “The Mind and the Moon: My Brother’s Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches.” He’s a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine."
Opinion | In India’s Gang Rape Culture, All Women Are Victims - The New York Times
In India’s Gang Rape Culture, All Women Are Victims
By Vidya Krishnan
"Ms. Krishnan is an Indian journalist specializing in health issues and is the author of “The Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History.”
GOA, India — My niece was just 4 years old when she turned to my sister-in-law in a packed movie theater in Mumbai and asked about gang rape for the first time.
We were watching the latest Bollywood blockbuster about vigilante justice, nationalistic fervor and, of course, gang rape. Four male characters seized the hero’s sister and dragged her away. “Where are they taking Didi?” my niece asked, using the Hindi word for “elder sister.” It was dark, but I could still make out her tiny forehead, furrowed with concern.
Didi’s gang rape took place offscreen, but it didn’t need to be shown. As instinctively as a newborn fawn senses the mortal danger posed by a fox, little girls in India sense what men are capable of.
You may wonder, “Why take a 4-year-old to such a movie?” But there is no escaping India’s rape culture; sexual terrorism is treated as the norm. Society and government institutions often excuse and protect men from the consequences of their sexual violence. Women are blamed for being assaulted and are expected to sacrifice freedom and opportunity in exchange for personal safety. This culture contaminates public life — in movies and television; in bedrooms, where female sexual consent is unknown; in the locker room talk from which young boys learn the language of rape. India’s favorite profanities are about having sex with women without their consent.
It is the specific horror of gang rape that weighs most heavily on Indian women that I know. You may have heard of the many gruesome cases of women being gang-raped, disemboweled and left for dead. When an incident rises to national attention, the kettle of outrage boils over, and women sometimes stage protests, but it passes quickly. All Indian women are victims, each one traumatized, angry, betrayed, exhausted. Many of us think about gang rape more than we care to admit.
In 2011 a woman was raped every 20 minutes in India, according to government data. The pace quickened to about every 16 minutes by 2021, when more than 31,000 rapes were reported, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. In 2021, 2,200 gang rapes were reported to authorities.
But those grotesque numbers tell only part of the story: 77 percent of Indian womenwho have experienced physical or sexual violence never tell anyone, according to one study. Prosecutions are rare.
Indian men may face persecution because they are Muslims, Dalits (untouchables) or ethnic minorities or for daring to challenge the corrupt powers that be. Indian women suffer because they are women. Soldiers need to believe that war won’t kill them, that only bad luck will; Indian women need to believe the same about rape, to trust that we will come back to the barracks safe each night, to be able to function at all.
Reports of violence against women in India have risen steadily over the decades, with some researchers citing a growing willingness by victims to come forward. Each rape desensitizes and prepares society to accept the next one, the evil becoming banal.
Gang rape is used as a weapon, particularly against lower castes and Muslims. The first instance that women my age remember was in 1980, when Phoolan Devi, a lower-caste teenager who had fallen in with a criminal gang, said she was abducted and repeatedly raped by a group of upper-caste attackers. She later came back with members of her gang and they killed 22 mostly upper-caste men. It was a rare instance of a brutalized woman extracting revenge. Her rape might never have made headlines without that bloody retribution.
Ms. Devi threw a spotlight on caste apartheid. The suffering of Bilkis Bano — the defining gang rape survivor of my generation — highlighted the boiling hatred that Indian institutions under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, have for Muslim women.
In 2002 brutal violence between Hindus and Muslims swept through Gujarat State. Ms. Bano, then 19 and pregnant, was gang raped by an angry Hindu mob, which also killed 14 of her relatives, including her 3-year-old daughter. Critics accuse Mr. Modi — Gujarat’s top official at the time — of turning a blind eye to the riots. He has not lost an election since.
Ms. Bano’s life took a different trajectory. She repeatedly moved houses after the assault, for her family’s safety. Last August, 11 men who were sentenced to life in prison for raping her were released — on the recommendation of a review committee stacked with members of Mr. Modi’s ruling party. After they were freed, they were greeted with flower garlands by Hindu right-wingers.
The timing was suspicious: Gujarat was to hold important elections a few months later, and Mr. Modi’s party needed votes. A member of his party explained that the accused, as upper-caste Brahmins, had “good” values and did not belong in prison. Men know these rules. They wrote the rule book. What’s most terrifying is that releasing rapists could very well be a vote-getter.
After Ms. Bano, there was the young physiotherapy student who in 2012 was beaten and raped on a moving bus and penetrated with a metal rod that perforated her colon before her naked body was dumped on a busy road in New Delhi. She died of her injuries. Women protested for days, and even men took part, facing water cannons and tear gas. New anti-rape laws were framed. This time was different, we naïvely believed.
It wasn’t. In 2018 an 8-year-old Muslim girl was drugged and gang raped in a Hindu temple for days and then murdered. In 2020 a 19-year-old Dalit girl was gang-raped and later died of her injuries, her spinal cord broken.
The fear, particularly of gang rape, never fully leaves us. We go out in groups, cover ourselves, carry pepper spray and GPS tracking devices, avoid public spaces after sunset and remind ourselves to yell “fire,” not “help” if attacked. But we know that no amount of precaution will guarantee our safety.
I don’t understand gang rape. Is it some medieval desire to dominate and humiliate? Do these men, with little power over others, feeling inadequate and ordinary, need a rush of power for a few minutes?
What I do know is that other men share the blame, the countless brothers, fathers, sons, friends, neighbors and colleagues who have collectively created and sustain a system that exploits women. If women are afraid, it is because of these men. It is a protection racket of epic proportions.
I’m not asking merely for equality. I want retribution. Recompense. I want young girls to be taught about Ms. Bano and Ms. Devi. I want monuments built for them. But men just want us to forget. The release of Ms. Bano’s rapists was about male refusal to commemorate our trauma.
So we build monuments with words and our memories. We talk to one another about gang rape, keeping it at the center of our lives. We try to explain to our youngest, to start protecting them.
This is how the history of the defeated is recorded. That’s what it all boils down to: a fight between forgetting and remembering."
Thursday, June 01, 2023
Trump’s Lawyers Start to Wonder if One Could Be a Snitch
Trump’s Lawyers Start to Wonder if One Could Be a Snitch
“With three anticipated indictments, two ongoing court cases, and an ever-expanding cadre of lawyers, former President Donald Trump is at a critical juncture—and yet his legal advisers are starting to turn on each other.
According to five sources with direct knowledge of the situation, clashing personalities and the increasing outside threat of law enforcement has sown deep divisions that have only worsened in recent months. The internal bickering has already sparked one departure in recent weeks—and that could be just the beginning.
As Trump’s legal troubles keep growing—with criminal and civil investigations in New York City, Washington, and Atlanta—so too does the unwieldy band of attorneys who simply can’t get along.
The cast of characters includes an accused meddler who has Trump’s ear, a young attorney who lawyers on the team suggested is only there because the former president likes the way she looks, and a celebrity lawyer who’s increasingly viewed with disdain. Worst of all, now that federal investigators have turned the interrogation spotlight on some of Trump’s lawyers themselves, defense attorneys on the team seem to be questioning whether their colleagues may actually turn into snitches.
“There’s a lot of lawyers and a lot of jealousy,” said one person on Trump’s legal team, explaining that the sheer number of lawyers protecting a single man accused of so many crimes is without parallel.
Part of the concern over lawyers turning on each other is due to the fact that the Department of Justice already has one Trump attorney’s professional notes, which could position him as a future witness against his own client, and the DOJ has another lawyer who said too much in an unrelated case and has positioned herself as yet another potential witness against her client.
But much of the anger from Trump’s lawyers is directed at the former president’s right-hand man, Boris Epshteyn, who’s accused of running interference on certain legal advice from more experienced courtroom gladiators.
Epshteyn, who’s a lawyer himself, has risen through the ranks in Trumpworld over the years, first as an adviser for Trump’s 2016 campaign, then as a more senior adviser for 2020, and now part of Trump’s innermost circle for 2024.
Epshteyn seems to have the former president’s supreme confidence, with what’s described as a final say on all matters related to public relations and legal issues. But there’s snickering in the shadows. Several sources ridiculed the way Epshteyn refers to himself as “in-house counsel”—normally a term for a company’s corporate attorney—noting how it echoes the way John Gotti’s mafia lawyer used to describe his services for the infamous Gambino crime family.
Epshteyn’s meddling has particularly affected the lawyers working to defend Trump from Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith and his investigation into whether the former president broke the law when he took top secret documents on his way out of the White House in January 2021 and hoarded them at Mar-a-Lago.
“Boris pissed off all the Florida lawyers. People are dropping like flies. Everybody hates him. He’s a toxic loser. He’s a complete psycho,” said a second person, who could barely contain their anger while discussing the matter. “He’s got daddy issues, and Trump is his daddy.”
A source close to the campaign gave a much kinder assessment of Epshteyn: "He is absolutely focused on protecting President Trump from every angle—legal, political, and media."
Regardless, the infighting came to a head recently, sparking the departure earlier this month of Tim Parlatore, one of the lawyers in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.
Parlatore’s sudden departure from Trump’s legal team came after a never-reported meeting last month at Mar-a-Lago, where several lawyers threatened to leave. According to two sources who described it as “an intervention,” the lawyers handling the case put forward an ultimatum: either Epshteyn goes or they do.
Four sources described how Epshteyn would at times stand guard between Trump and his own defense lawyers, demanding that all communication flow through him. One of these sources noted that Parlatore’s first ever one-on-one meeting with his own client was when the defense lawyer recently submitted his resignation.
A fifth person who regularly works on legal matters countered the description of Epshteyn as an obstructionist, noting that Trump’s lawyers still have a direct channel to the former president when necessary. But this person acknowledged that Epshteyn plays a pivotal role in screening major issues that fly Trump’s way, much like a public official’s highly defensive chief of staff.
“He does help arrange things. He tries to coordinate. But everybody has Trump’s phone number, and he picks up the phone. And he calls you directly when he feels like it,” this person said.
“Some people don’t like Boris, but most of us are used to having a client to ourselves,” this person continued. “We don’t have other people involved. When there’s all these lawyers, there’s going to be conflict. Different people, different ideas. People feel like Boris is the one who’s deciding things, but it’s not Boris making decisions. I guarantee you that’s Trump not wanting something.”
This source suggested that, at this stage—with three different criminal investigations closing in and multiple trials scheduled to interrupt the election season—it’s inevitable that high-powered lawyers fully capable of representing someone like a former American president would chide at being questioned by someone like Epshteyn. Another person described him as “a really super-smart guy” who still manages to be “obnoxious, vociferous, and bombastic” because “he has a law license.”
“It doesn’t mean he’s really a lawyer,” this person said.
The closest anyone on the team has come to publicly hinting at in-fighting was Parlatore in a CNN appearance last week, in which he blamed Epshteyn for doing “everything he could to try to block us, to prevent us from doing what we could to defend the president.”
But as another Trump lawyer, Alina Habba, said days later on that same TV news network: “You have type A personalities. We’re all lawyers, and not everybody’s always going to get along.”
Epshteyn declined to comment on the record, but a Trump 2024 campaign spokesman moved to create distance between the remaining lawyers and the departing counsel.
“Mr. Parlatore is no longer a member of the legal team. His statements regarding current members of the legal team are unfounded and categorically false,” Steven Cheung told The Daily Beast.
Then there’s the 33-year-old Lindsey Halligan, a relatively inexperienced lawyer who suddenly appeared in Trump’s orbit sometime last summer as a vocal advocate on the right-wing Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast. She was at Mar-a-Lago during the FBI’s search there in August, quickly became involved in Trump’s bumbling lawsuit in October against CNN for comparing Trump to Hitler, and has since been generally involved in his defense against the feds.
Fellow attorneys advising Trump have seriously questioned why she’s on the team, given that the most notable case she worked on since graduating from law school in 2013 appears to have been second-chair to a more senior lawyer defending an insurance company at a two-day trial against three Miami homeowners with damaged roofs. Even in that case, a judge wouldn’t award her attorney’s fees because he ruled that her team screwed up and didn’t act “in good faith.”
“It waters down the honor to represent a president. It really does, when you think about it,” one of her colleagues told The Daily Beast.
Two current members of Trump’s defense speculated that Trump only keeps Halligan around because he likes to be surrounded by attractive people.
Halligan did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But another colleague came to her defense.
“With a new person coming in, people are looking to undercut her. She's a young, attractive woman, and people can be pretty sexist,” this person said, noting that such speculation about her hiring was “an easy way to undercut a woman attorney.”
Another Trump source also disputed the characterization, saying Halligan is "a highly experience litigation attorney and served as a partner at one of the largest law firms in Florida."
Trump’s mounting legal problems have only added to the general anxiety afflicting his attorneys.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which indicted Trump in March for faking business records, is about to dump thousands of documents of evidence on defense lawyers Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles, and Joe Tacopina—who aren’t allowed to freely share those documents with the former president. They may even have to fight Trump to prevent him from stupidly posting sensitive details on social media.
The DA’s prosecutors are already trying to fracture Trump’s legal team by attempting to disqualify Tacopina and make him seem like a weak link, because he has a tenuous connection to a key witness in the case, the porn star Stormy Daniels whose hush money payment Trump tried to hide while running for president back in 2016.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys Alina Habba and Christopher Kise are gearing up for a civil trial in October against the New York Attorney General, who seeks to bleed the Trump Organization dry and destroy Trump’s ability to do conduct business in the financial capital of the world by holding him personally liable for bank and insurance fraud.
In Georgia, the defense lawyers Drew Findling, Melissa Goldberg, and Jennifer L. Little are preparing for the Fulton County District Attorney to indict Trump in July or August over the way he intimidated the state’s top elections official in 2021 while trying to overturn his loss there—a recorded phone call where he was advised by yet other lawyers he trusted.
And an entirely different team of lawyers split up between the nation’s capital and his oceanside Florida estate—former federal prosecutors M. Evan Corcoran, John P. Rowley, and Jim Trusty up north and Halligan down south—are gearing up for two different fights with the Department of Justice.
Meanwhile, there’s growing resentment against Habba and Tacopina among the some lawyers over the way they handled Trump’s recent rape trial against the journalist E. Jean Carroll. The former president didn’t bother showing up to testify, his attorneys presented no case, and the jury swiftly concluded he committed sexual abuse. One source commended the duo for putting up a fight while dealing with a no-bullshit federal judge and a client who wouldn’t stop digging himself into a hole. But others ripped Habba for failing to get better rulings from the federal judge before the trial and tore into Tacopina over his brutish performance in court.
“She quickly demonstrated herself to have a total lack of understanding, and he totally screwed that case up. That was a winnable case if he presented a defense,” one source said.
While Trump’s sprawling legal battalion occasionally comes together for massive meetings about the overall pitiful state of affairs, each case team operates in its own lane—raising suspicions that some teams are completely under-equipped and could cause others to trip up. Trump has so many simultaneous criminal investigations that they have to coordinate to not double book potential appearances in court—or trials. And they all have to bear in mind that he’s actively campaigning for president of the United States.
But what’s really driving the deepest distrust is the way Smith’s investigators have started turning up the heat on Trump’s own lawyers, driving wedges between the counselors and their client.
It happened when a federal judge, citing the existence of a possible crime, unilaterally and speedily handed prosecutors Corcoran’s professional notes—an odd and highly questionable move involving what are normally highly guarded secrets.
And it happened when those prosecutors questioned Habba, who put herself in an impossible situation when she declared in the New York AG’s case that she thoroughly searched every nook and cranny at Mar-a-Lago for documents relevant in that business fraud case—only to have the FBI later find classified documents in those desk drawers and cabinets months later.
“It's either perjury or incompetence,” said one insider.
Several attorneys on Trump’s team consider these two events as potential liabilities, given that the feds could pressure them to become witnesses against their client.
The DOJ case is getting so hot, some lawyers have begun to see it as radioactive to their careers. One lawyer on Trump’s team emphatically told The Daily Beast, “I have nothing to do with that. I have a law license to protect.” Another stressed they might slam the eject button before it gets much worse.
“It’s crazy in there. It really is. I’ve heard there’s a mess coming,” this person said.”