A federal judge is refusing to take herself off a convicted military contractor’s case, saying an investigation into claims he threatened her—which proved to be unfounded—were no basis for her recusal.
Eastern District Judge Joanna Seybert denied David H. Brooks’ recusal bid on Wednesday, writing “this court has repeatedly indicated that it did not, does not and will not consider any allegation of such threats because the investigation failed to disclose that defendant made these threats in the first place.”
Prior to Brooks’ sentencing on convictions including securities fraud and conspiracy, government authorities in November 2012 began looking into allegations that Brooks made threats against the judge and members of the prosecution and defense.
Seybert was initially told about the probe. But the defense wasn’t informed until July 2013, when prosecutors said the allegations were unfounded.
Soon after Brooks’ legal team learned of the investigation, an attorney told Seybert in writing and during a conference call that Brooks would not be seeking recusal.
During the conference call, Seybert told the defense she was not “affected by the allegations.”
In December 2013, the defense sought Seybert’s recusal. She asked Eastern District Judge Arthur Spatt to rule on whether Brooks had already waived his right to move for recusal. Last month, Spatt concluded Brooks did waive that right (NYLJ, June 23).
Brooks is appealing Spatt’s ruling, as well as the conviction and sentence in U.S. v. Schlegel, 06-cr-00550. Restitution proceedings before Seybert are ongoing.
David M. Goldstein of Miami appeared on Brooks’ recusal motion.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Sean Sinclair and Christopher Caffrone appeared for the prosecution, arguing Brooks waived his recusal right.