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Federal Judge Hits BOP Mule with Two-by-Four

Federal Judge Hits BOP Mule With Two-by-Four

A ticked-off federal judge in Miami interrupted the fraud and money-laundering trial of jewel dealer Jack Hasson February 2, 2000, for an "extraordinary display of judicial pique and power," the Palm Beach Post reported.

U.S. District Court Judge James Lawrence King ordered arrest warrants for the Bureau of Prisons warden and medical director of the Federal Detention Center (FDC Miami) for failing to provide a medical test repeatedly requested for Hasson's codefendant, Clifford Sloan.

"I'm tired of this," King told the Palm Beach Post. "I'm tired of fooling with it. This is somewhat drastic, but I guess it's what you need to get the attention of a stubborn mule, a two-by-four."

King later rescinded the arrest orders, but hauled the warden, the doctor, and their lawyer, U.S. Attorney Tom Scott and his deputy into court for an impromptu contempt hearing that left Scott "steaming with anger and the warden bearing the marks of a tongue-lashing," The Post reported.

The trial, which was in its third week, was in danger of ending in a mistrial because of defendant Sloan's detriorating medical condition. Sloan, 62, had quadruple heart bypass surgery in October 1998, six months before his arrest. He takes a blood-thinning drug to control formation of blood clots, and is supposed to have a blood test monthly to regulate the dosage. But Sloan's lawyer, Jeffrey Voluck, told the court that his client was bleeding internally -- indicating that the dosage needed to be changed -- and had gone nearly two months without a blood test.

Judge King told U.S. Marshals to take care of the problem on several occasions. But the Marshals reported back that they were unable to get a satisfactory response from FDC Miami officials, prompting King to lose patience.

After the hastily-convened contempt hearing, U.S. Attorney Scott swept out of the courtroom and grimly summoned Warden Gregory Kapusta and others into a conference room and closed the door. Raised voices were heard in the adjoining waiting room.

Two weeks after the contempt hearing, Sloan suffered a heart attack in court and was excused from attending the remainder of the trial. Sloan was eventually acquitted of all charges against him while Fasson was convicted on six counts of money laundering and fraud.

Sloan's attorney, like other court observers, marveled at the theatrics. "Twenty-five years in practice," Voluck told The Post, "and I've never seen anything like it."

Source: The Palm Beach Post

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