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U.S. v. CARMEN

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois


May 7, 2004.

UNITED STATES, Plaintiff, V. RICHARD CARMEN and OMAR AVILA, Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD GUZMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are Richard Carmen and Omar Avila's motions for continued appointment of two attorneys. The matter was discussed at a March 2, 2004 status hearing. Counsel for Richard Carmen and Omar Avila argued for continued appointment of two attorneys at the hearing. Counsel for Carmen also filed a written motion, while counsel for Avila opted to stand on their oral argument. The government has voiced no oral or written objection to the continued appointment of two attorneys for each defendant.

At the beginning of this case, the Court appointed two attorneys to represent each death eligible defendant, namely Richard Carmen, Omar Avila, and Daniel Perez, as required by 18 U.S.C. ยง 3005.*fn1 The government has since decided not to seek the death penalty, thus under paragraph 6.02(B)(2) of the CJA Guidelines, the Court may consider whether the continued appointment of two attorneys for each death eligible defendant is necessary,

  Counsel for Carmen and counsel for Avila have argued in favor of the continued appointment of two attorneys due to the division of labor to date, the complexity of the case, the vast amount of evidence, and the gravity of the charges. This case involves eleven defendants, all but three of whom are charged with participating in a RICO conspiracy spanning nearly 8 years. Defendants collectively are charged with, among other things, committing twelve kidnapings to obtain drugs and/or money, several of which involved brutal acts of torture and one of which ended in murder. Richard Carmen is the alleged ringleader and is named in 24 counts of the 29-count indictment. Omar Avila is named in five counts. Both Carmen and Avila allegedly took part in the murder and are facing a potential life sentence. It is worth noting that other individuals were previously tried and convicted of the same murder and were later exonerated. Counsel for Carmen expects that the trial will involve dozens of witnesses and will last at least a month.

  Counsel for each defendant have indicated that to manage the vast amount of evidence in this case, they divided the workload at the beginning. Therefore, if one attorney is to handle the defense from here forward, he would be required to get up to speed, which would likely result in some delays and a significant amount of billing for work that has already been done. Further, counsel have indicated that due to the complex factual and legal issues involved, this case is just too much for one attorney to handle.

  The Court is convinced that due to the number of alleged crimes charged, the vast amount of evidence to be considered, and the anticipated length of the trial, continued appointment of two attorneys on behalf of both Carmen and Avila is warranted. Further, given the division of labor that has occurred thus far, if one attorney is required to proceed with the defense of either defendant, it seems delay and increased attorneys' fees would be the likely result, Thus, to ensure adequate representation of defendants Carmen and Avila, and to avoid disrupting the proceedings, it is hereby ordered that the appointments of all four counsel shall continue as before. For the reasons stated above, defendants' motions are granted.

  SO ORDERED.


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