Last month, Proskauer filed an amicus brief on behalf of Sanctuary for Families — a leading non-profit organization advocating for victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking —specifically to advocate for allowing criminal prosecutions based on lawfully recorded telephone calls that abusers in pretrial detention use to coerce victims not to testify.

According to some reports, up to 80% of victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking recant their testimony of the abuse and refuse to cooperate with police.  Decades of social-science research, along with recent academic studies and reputable reporting, show that many domestic violence and sex trafficking victims recant because they are suffering from acute psychological trauma akin to Stockholm Syndrome: by combining psychological manipulation with incidents of physical violence, abusers achieve “coercive control” of their victims and successfully instruct them not to testify.  Abusers in pretrial detention are particularly incentivized to coerce their victims not to testify because, often, the victim is the only available witness to the crime.

These concerns were presented by our amicus brief to the New York Court of Appeals in People v. Diaz, in which the defendant was convicted of robbery and burglary in part based on inculpatory statements he made during recorded telephone calls in pretrial detention.  The defendant sought to exclude the incriminating statements he made, despite receiving multiple notices that his calls would be recorded, on the grounds that using those recordings for any purpose other than maintaining order at the prison was improper.

Proskauer’s brief highlighted the devastating effects that a reversal would have upon victims of domestic violence.  Given how successful abusers are in coercing victims not to testify (and thereby committing criminal witness tampering and obstructing justice), a ruling that prohibits lawful recordings from being used for purposes other than prison security not only would lack support in the law, but would immunize pretrial detainees who seek to coerce victims not to testify. At oral argument this month, the Court of Appeals questioned counsel on the specific issues raised in Proskauer’s brief.

I was proud to lead the Proskauer team, which included associates Jim Anderson and Jonathan Traub.

To read our amicus brief, please click here.

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of William D. Dalsen William D. Dalsen

Will Dalsen is a senior counsel in the Litigation Department. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on private credit, private equity, venture capital and hedge funds. Will is highly regarded for his deep knowledge of the private credit…

Will Dalsen is a senior counsel in the Litigation Department. His practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on private credit, private equity, venture capital and hedge funds. Will is highly regarded for his deep knowledge of the private credit fund industry and ability to resolve disputes for both sponsors and portfolio companies. He provides counseling regarding creditor rights, lender liability, sponsor liability, operating company disputes, control rights and regulatory compliance and investigations.

He advises funds, fund sponsors, investment advisers, and institutional and individual investors. In addition, he has represented public and private corporations in contractual disputes, business tort cases, and government investigations.

Will leads all phases of the litigation process, including pre-suit investigations, negotiating discovery disputes and arguing discovery motions, managing expert discovery, preparing and arguing dispositive motions, and preparing witnesses for trial. He has elicited deposition testimony from numerous witnesses on topics ranging from corporate finances to document preservation.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Will served for two years as a law clerk to Judge Susan Phillips Read of the New York State Court of Appeals, drafting bench memoranda and assisting with opinions in a variety of civil and criminal matters. In law school, Will was Editor in Chief of the Wisconsin Law Review and served as a judicial intern to the Honorable Shirley S. Abrahamson, Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.