Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Court Rejects Objections To Refusal To Reschedule Trial Dates For Alleged Religious Reasons

In People v. Alliance Warburg Capital Management, (NY Cty. Sup. Ct., Oct. 17, 2017), a New York trial court rejected religious free exercise arguments by defendant who had been convicted of defrauding investors out of over $4 million.  Defendant objected to the court's refusal during trial to agree to hold no sessions on Fridays-- though only one session was in fact held on a Friday.  The state did not object to defendant's request.  The court found defendant's religious claims to insincere.  Defendant claimed to be Jewish and contended that "he was an adherent of Kabbalah Judaism and that the tenets of that faith required an observance with respect to "sundown in Israel, not just sundown here in the U.S...."

The court observed that defendant had repeatedly used religion to perpetrate his frauds.  It concluded:
The right to the free exercise of religion is one of our most precious liberties. The use of religion to perpetrate fraud, on the other hand, is abhorrent. This Court, as others, obviously does not make every decision to vindicate a principle. Often, efficiency and the agreement of the parties are controlling. In this case, however, the principle was also important. It was important that Mr. Canady not use religion to defraud the court — as he had done on multiple prior occasions to defraud his victims.