Judge Thomas C. Platt exhibits a pattern of behavior that indicates a deteriorating mental condition, a bias against African-Americans and Hispanics, and a fundamental misunderstanding of his role as a federal district court judge, especially concerning the First Amendment.
During his first few years on the bench Judge Platt did appear to follow the letter and spirit of the law. A few examples:
United States v. Sam Goody, Inc., 518 F.Supp. 1223 (E.D.N.Y. 1981). A new trial was granted because of the taint of a R.I.C.O. count and the prosecution’s use of false testimony.
United States v. Caparella, 542 F.Supp. 826 (E.D.N.Y. 1982). Judge Platt referred to the Speedy Trial Act of 1974 as, “properly characterized by at least one learned member of the bench as an ‘abomination.’ ” At least in this case he attempted to follow it.
Ames v. New York State Bd. of Parole, 593 F.Supp. 972 (E.D.N.Y. 1984). Habeas corpus was granted to a pro se petitioner on a guilty plea (not knowingly and voluntarily entered) and ineffective assistance of counsel.
In the 1990s Judge Platt’s deteriorating mental condition became increasingly evident. His progressive inability to follow statutory mandates and Second Circuit directives become increasingly more obvious simply by following published opinions:
United States v. Jacobs, 955 F.2d 7 (2nd Cir. 1992). Judge Platt twice previously imposed an improper sentence, id. at 10. The lower court must adhere to the decision of a higher court even where it disagrees or finds error in it, id. at 9.
I.e., Judge Platt had to be corrected three times by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. It is hard to imagine anything that interferes more with the orderly administration of justice than three separate appellate panels of three judges each attempting to correct the erratic behavior of one (1) federal district court judge on three (3) separate occasions. It shouldn’t take nine (9) judges to correct one.
Apparently Judge Platt feels himself mentally superior to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals judges who must continually correct him.
Transcript of sentence of Juan A. Tapia-Ortiz, October 13, 1995, case no. CR91-014 (5), page 4, lines 10-11, Eastern District of New York.
Inimitable: that cannot be imitated or matched; too good to be equaled or copied.
Webster’s New World Dictionary, page 752 (World Pub. Co. 1962).
In this case the defendant’s ribs were broken by the arresting officers, a fact blithely ignored by Judge Platt. Transcript, supra, page 13.
United States v. Bohn, 959 F.2d 389 (2nd Cir. 1992). Fines exceeded amounts agreed to in plea bargains. The sentences were vacated, and the case was remanded.
I.e., Judge Platt wasn’t paying attention.
Coltrade Intern, Inc. v. United States, 973 F.2d 128 (2nd Cir. 1992). In this case Judge Platt found that counsel’s arguments on behalf of his client were “frivolous,” “without merit,” “clearly inconsistent,” and “irreconcilable.” He neglected to specify which particular conduct merited sanctions. Vacated and remanded.
Paddington Corp. v. Attiki Importers & Distrib., 996 F.2d 577 (2nd Cir. 1993). In this case Judge Platt displayed his ignorance of trademark law (Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)).
Or was Judge Platt just mentally “out-of-it?” The statute is not difficult to understand.
United States v. Haynes, 16 F.3d 29 (2nd Cir. 1994). In this case Judge Platt was unable to charge the jury correctly on a false statement count (ironically, the Government agreed on this one) on an indictment concerning the purchase of firearms.
Dory v. Ryan, 25 F.3d 81 (2d Cir. 1994). A correctional facility inmate filed a pro se § 1983 complaint against the prosecuting attorney and police officer witness for conspiracy to convict him on perjured testimony. Judge Platt dismissed the § 1983 complaint sua sponte. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. Former case 999 F.2d 679 (2nd Cir. 1993). Reversed and remanded.
United States v. Johansen, 56 F.3d 347 (2nd Cir. 1995). In this case Judge Platt demonstrated his inability to distinguish between single and multiple conspiracies. Reversed and remanded.
By 1995 Judge Platt’s mental condition rendered him unable to comprehend basic principles of Bad Faith insurance law:
Brabender v. Northern Assur. Co. of America, 65 F.3d 269 (2nd Cir. 1995). Judge Platt sided with an insurance company on two policies that plainly covered the automobile accident involved. The third policy (Homeowner’s) did not. Affirmed in part and reversed in part.
By 1998, rather than attempt to correct Judge Platt’s erratic behavior, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had apparently recognized that it’s easier to switch than fight (or at least engage in a trilogy of appeals):
United States v. Campo, 140 F.3d 415 (2nd Cir. 1998). In this case Judge Platt refused to exercise the discretion the law gave him (downward departure in sentencing). Vacated, remanded, and reassigned to different district judge for re-sentencing.
His bias against African-Americans and Hispanics is easily seen:
Jackson v. Suffolk County Homicide Bureau, 135 F.3d 254 (2nd Cir. 1998). Judge Platt dismissed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim by Nahshon Jackson. Nude photos of Jackson were taken without his consent at post arrest interrogation and those photographs were then publicly displayed at his trial. Vacated and remanded.
Displaying African-Americans like pieces of meat was supposed to have gone out with the abolition of slavery in 1865.
Howard v. Senkowski, 986 F.2d 24 (2nd Cir. 1993). Howard, who is black, raised issues of black jurors being dismissed from the jury panel by the prosecutor, pursuant to Batson v. Kentucky, 106 S.Ct. 1712 (1986), on federal habeas corpus for state prisoners. Judge Platt dismissed. Vacated and remanded.
United States v. Gaviria, 49 F.3d 89 (2nd Cir. 1995). In this case the defendant had to be re-sentenced before a different judge to receive a two-level reduction for his minor role in the offense. Vacated and remanded for re-sentencing.
This bias against Hispanics was evident from an earlier decision:
United States v. Esposito, 970 F.2d 1156 (2nd Cir. 1992). In this case Judge Platt presumed to allow the Government to sell the Esposito home before the resolution of a forfeiture action. A line from Alice-in-Wonderland would appear to apply here: “No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first--verdict afterwards.” (Footnote 1) Vacated and remanded.
In another case Judge Platt “mouse-trapped” innocent property owners and took away their apartment building merely because Hispanics lived there:
United States v. Premises Known As 418 57th St., Brooklyn, 737 F.Supp. 749 (E.D.N.Y. 1990). The innocent owner defense was denied on this forfeiture action. The owners had been told by an attorney that there was “nothing they could do.”
Judge Platt’s bias against Hispanics appears to have been indicated long before his mind began to unravel:
United States v. Perez, 574 F.Supp. 1429 (E.D.N.Y. 1983). A warrantless search of apartment, car, and everything else is legitimate.
Judge Platt exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding of freedom of the press, which is inexcusable for a federal district court judge. The U.S. Supreme Court described the reason for freedom of the press prior to World War II:
Near v. State of Minnesota, 51 S.Ct. 625, 631 (1931)(footnote omitted).
Judge Platt’s most recent display of incompetence is now making the news around the world on the Internet:
Judge Thomas C. Platt had warned Coleman during sentencing: 'If I hear you attacking the government on your radio show, I shall take that very very seriously.' Judge Platt also barred Coleman from speaking about his case on the radio programme. Since Judge Platt violated his constitutional rights and departed from the plea agreement, Coleman is filing an appeal.
Coleman said after the sentencing: 'Today was another episode in the saga of a five-year-old perjury case, based on a seven-year-old civil affidavit, over a ten-year-old air disaster. No American can ever give up free speech to preserve a judge's order.'
Brown, From dungeon to talk show host (28 May 1998)
Judge Platt’s hostility to the First Amendment is evidenced from other, earlier decisions:
United States v. Pappas, 94 F.3d 795 (2nd Cir. 1996). Judge Platt entered a protective order imposing restrictions upon the defendant and his defense counsel with respect to disclosure of classified information. Dismissed in part and remanded in part.
United States v. Cutler, 58 F.3d 825 (2nd Cir. 1995). John Gotti’s attorney was muzzled under Local Rule 7 (“a kind or gag order” id. at 830). Apparently this Rule only applies to defense attorneys. See id. at 828. Judge Platt convicted Bruce Cutler of misdemeanor contempt, 840 F.Supp. 959. Affirmed.
United States v. Cutler, 6 F.3d 67 (2nd Cir. 1993). Judge Platt held reporters and television stations in contempt. Affirmed in part and reversed in part.
It appears that, in a First Amendment context, Judge Platt has “forgotten his place:”
Chafee, Free Speech in the United States, p. 22 (1967).
Judge Platt, who is referred to by local attorneys as “The Beast,” has absolutely no business on the bench. His pattern of behavior, not his ruling or rulings in any individual case, indicate aberrational behavior to which no American citizen or foreign national should be subjected. Judge Platt should be required to submit to exhaustive tests for mental disease, senility, substance abuse, and bias. Judge Platt should then be recommended for impeachment or voluntarily step down before he does any more damage and/or subjects the federal judiciary to any more loss of public confidence.
Footnote 1: Carroll, The Annotated Alice, page 161 (Martin Gardner 1960).