« Courts - "SCOTUS Sides With Raisin Farmers in Property Rights Case" [Updated] | Main | Courts - More on yesterday's SCOTUS opinions; this leaves 7 to be decided [Updated] »

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit posts one decided yesterday, re jury trial where defendant alone was present by videoconference

In Perotti v. Quinones (SD Ind., Magnus-Stinson), a 37-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:

After a one-day trial, a jury rejected federal prisoner John Perotti’s claim that his promotion from education orderly to law clerk was delayed in retaliation for his history of filing administrative grievances. Perotti appeals, contending that the district court abused its discretion in denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum and instead arranging for him to participate in the trial by video conferencing. At the least, Perotti suggests, the district court should have ordered all parties to appear by video conferencing rather than imposing that disadvantage solely on him. Finding no abuse of discretion in the court’s decision, we affirm the judgment. * * *

Perotti makes three principal arguments on appeal. He contends first that the district court did not objectively and properly balance the relevant Stone factors in denying his request for a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum and deciding to have him appear remotely rather than in person at the trial. Among other things, he contends that the court did not sufficiently recognize the limits of participating in the trial by video and gave too much weight to the government’s allegations as to the security risks his live participation in the trial would present. Second, Perotti argues that once the court decided that he should participate in the trial by video, it should have compelled the defendants to do the same in order to level the playing field. We review the court’s decisionmaking in these respects for abuse of discretion. See Thornton v. Snyder, 428 F.3d 690, 697 (7th Cir. 2005); Jones v. Hamelman, 869 F.2d 1023, 1030 (7th Cir. 1989). Finally, Perotti claims that he was deprived of a fair trial by virtue of the court’s decision to have him appear remotely rather than in person, and that consequently the district court erred in denying his request for a new trial. We review that ruling as well for an abuse of discretion. E.g., Venson v. Altamirano, 749 F.3d 641, 656 (7th Cir. 2014). * * *

The district judge did not abuse her discretion in denying Perotti’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum and having him instead testify and participate in the trial by video conferencing. The judge did everything she could do to ensure that Perotti could see as much of the trial proceeding and its participants as was possible, and we commend her for the job she did. We also wish to thank Perotti’s appointed counsel for their vigorous and effective advocacy on his behalf. AFFIRMED

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 23, 2015 09:33 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions