Letter to US Magistrate DiBianco regarding counsel, Jan 2003

Jan 16, 2003

Honorable Gustav J. DiBianco
US Magistrate Judge
RE: United States v. Murtari
P.O. Box 7396
Syracuse, NY 13261-7396

Dear Judge DiBianco:

It is with some regret that I contact you to ask that my assigned Counsel no longer represent me in the matters before your Court. There has been conduct which is simply unacceptable in an attorney-client relationship. I will relate those items in the attachment. I take no pleasure in this and I hope all sides will not see this as some type of legal maneuvering or theatrics. This event may certainly have a detrimental effect in my defense in these matters and the ultimate outcome. With not only severe consequences for me, but also my family.

On a personal level I want to note that I greatly appreciate not only her efforts in this matter, but also the other people I met in the Public Defender’s office. I have thanked them before for what they have done, and I thank them now. However, on a professional level I feel there was a severe breech in the attorney-client relationship and it certainly may have been caused by the unique facts in this matter. I regret that, but now wish to focus on how best to proceed in a timely and effective manner to bring the pending matters before you to closure.

Assignment of Counsel – You have a copy of the financial affidavit I submitted several months ago. It is still an accurate depiction of my financial state. I would love to hire an attorney to represent me, but it is just not possible. In the past I have tried to contact Civil Right’s attorneys and groups for “pro bono” type representation, but have not found anyone. I do plan on trying again immediately to find an attorney in Federal Practice who may be able to represent me. I ask the Court to please assign an independent local attorney who is qualified as assigned counsel, but obviously one who’s practice is not dependent on assigned counsel payments to avoid any potential bias.

Limitations proceeding “pro se” – Proceeding on my own in this matter is undesirable. I do not want to waste the Court or Mr. Southwick’s time with silly mistakes and procedural errors. Most importantly, I do not wish to jeopardize myself and my family. I have no desire to act as a lawyer; especially given the significant Constitutional issues presented here. These matters are not only about simple facts, but a great deal about the law. I would have little objective chance to win any type of legal argument versus Mr. Southwick and his experience.

My greatest limitations is in having access to Federal Law, Rules, and Court Procedures. I live in Lyons, NY, which is a 1 hour drive from my office in Baldwinsville, a 2 hour commute each day. Federal books are not available in either location.. The County Supreme Court Library in Syracuse is a 30 minute drive from my office. I have a full time job during the day. My mother is 86 and I am the only child; I live with her and help her.

I have seen various “on-line” legal services that give access for a monthly fee to case law, rules, and procedures. I can access the internet from both home and office; it would alleviate some of the problem if the Court could allocate funds at least for that. I obviously have a lot of reading to do and it would make it go much, much faster.

Schedule on Contempt – I ask the Court to please delay the Contempt Hearing and give me and counsel an opportunity to determine how to proceed. I may need to review Federal Law, Rules, Procedures, and also case law. I have no desire to delay this matter, but wish to proceed as quickly as possible within the real limits imposed by my position. I know that in some state jurisdictions it is allowed (and sometimes required) that a different Judge hear a case of contempt. This may be something I ask for. I do plan on calling witnesses to testify, I ask for a date to submit motions of February 19th if the Court thinks that is a realistic target date.

Schedule on Pending Violation Charges – I am not familiar with Federal Procedure, but I assume from Court conversations that Mr. Southwick is going to prepare formal complaints against me, specifying the charges I am accused of, before we will schedule any pending trial dates or agree to other dispositions. At the present time I can say with some certainty that I plan on asking for Trial for the arrest that occurred on September 30th. I feel that is the most representative of the cases and has none of the issues regarding “congregating”, which were unique to July 29th.

Pending Appeal – The Appeal has been submitted. I do not wish to jeopardize the proceeding with Judge Mordue and can find no harm in Ms. Peebles completing anything that procedure requires till a decision is made. I understand if an Appeal is required to the 2nd Circuit that new provisions would have to be made for representation and that items not raised on Appeal to Judge Mordue are still preserved and may be raised in later appeals.

Personal Schedule – My son’s birthday is Feb 11th, my Mother and I have tickets to fly out for the weekend on Feb 13th. He has Spring break from school, March 20th-30th, I hope to be able to pick him up and bring him here for the holiday. As I said before during my sentencing, I do not ask for this consideration from the Court or the US Attorney’s office as a “right” or “obligation.” As you said so well in Court your honor, I could obviously “stay” my actions. I just ask for mercy as these events unfold. He counts the days until our next visit, he is aware of what daddy “does.” These decisions are very painful for both of us.

The Proceedings – As an innocent man I have been convicted and sent to jail – I still marvel at that event. This is a political matter, not a criminal one. The solution is a political one and rests with Senator Clinton and parents who have been unjustly separated from their children.

Finally, I feel it necessary to say again I regret the change in counsel. I hope the court respects my honesty in this matter and understands there is no motivation for this other than what you see presented here. Mr. Southwick is a great follower of the group’s web site and it is my intent this attorney-client event be “minimized.” I have a great respect for her and during my last incarceration heard some of her former clients call her one of the best lawyers in the Public Defender’s office. My great wish is just to get back on track so that everything can be dealt with in a proper manner.

Respectfully yours,

John Murtari
635-1968, x-211