Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

NY Feds approve Martha's nite out, then questions his own judgment

Martha and Stanton keep running into each other. Martha shows up in the media, and Stanton gets a call from the Post about walking and eating.

Why such a short extension

16 Aug 2005: Martha's about to go off probation

And her prize? Her firm faces a lawsuit over allegedly defective tables.

Updated 8 Aug 2005

I was thinking about the slap on the wrist from Stanton, and thought there may be something else others might want to look into.

First, let's put aside all the facts of the case for the moment, and look narrowly at the issue of a probation officer, their monitoring responsibilities, their duty to bring information to the court, and the evidence required to adjust the terms of the probation.

IN all of this, the issue becomes one of 'what will the court agree'. In other words, for Stanton to not go to the Court would mean that he's got nothing to go to the Court to say, "Hay, Martha's really ignored these terms; I can prove it. Here's the evidence." But it doesn't look like Stanton could/can/would be able to do that.


  • Did Stanton simply agree to the 3-week extension as a token consequence, because he didn't want to go through the hassle of potentially litigating the issue before the court?

  • Did Stanton say, "Look Martha's only got three more weeks; it's only going to last until the end of August 2005. Then this will be all over"?

  • Did Martha's legal counsel have superior bargaining position in that Stanton had limited admissible/probative evidence to warrant a substantial increase in the probation terms?

    In my view and personal opinion, what happened is this:

    Stanton got overwhelmed by the Martha Probation. He also had little admissible evidence to proffer before the court to justify a substantial increase in the house confinement.

    Stanton, in my view, risked looking like an idiot before the court if he said [I could be wrong on this, I'm just guessing], "Hay, I've got nothing on Martha other than these press reports. I didn't really look into the probation compliance until after the media looked into it. So other than my sort of cursory look at the thing, I really can't find anything. But I think 3 weeks is warranted."

    I think the court would've thrown the book at him screaming,

  • "You're a probation officer and all you can give the court are some weasel words from a newspaper?!? Where have you been the entire time?"

  • "Are you finding the high profile probation requirements/responsibilities beyond your ability to effectively manage?"

    I don't think Stanton wanted to risk having something documented in court, nor have something that might suggest he's only reacting as opposed to monitoring.

    Here's what I think [personal opinion]

  • Stanton wasn't doing the checks and messed up.

  • Martha's attorneys had leverage to make Stanton back off

  • Stanton had no evidence to persuade the court to justify a change in the probation terms with the court. Despite the alerts by the media, the admissible evidence for the court was not probabitve. There were no independent methods to present to the court information that would substantially increase the probation/home confinement terms.

  • The underlying factors behind the quick investigation and closeout is twofold: Martha was already appealing her original conviction. Suppose the probation-terms became an issue. The last thing Stanton would want to do is to litigate a probation issue that could get overturned should the appeal find that there was no basis for the original confinement.

  • Stanton also didn't want to lose the litigation; the last think Stanton would want is to have the underlying case overturned, and have his probation terms still in litigation, which could then become moot. In other words, it makes no sense to tie up resources attempting to litigation a probation change when there is an equal chance that the original case would be overturned on appeal.

  • The easiest thing to do is agree to a token penalty, and get the issue out of Stanton's hair.

    Slap on wrist: 15% Added

    Update 3 Aug 2005: Three more weeks added. She's already spent almost 5 months of "confinement" at home and five months in Virginia. She was supposed to end her "home confinement" August 10th. It's now going to end 3 weeks later, or Aug 31.

    How can you convict an orphan-argument

    Ther'es the story of an enraged teen [Not martha ] who murders their parents. When brought before the court, the teen says, "How can you possibly lock up an orphan."

    With that "defense" in mind, when I hear this, [ "Her lawyers have complained that the terms of her home confinement have hurt efforts to revive her namesake company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. ." . . .Ref] I think . . . maybe Martha should've thought about that before she sold the stock? And, "When do 'self-inflicted prisoner hardships' have merit?

    Slap on wrist by someone who failed to supervise?

    Using simple math: That's 3 weeks on top of 5 months, or 15%. That "more percentage" that the "recoveries" given to those who get financial settlements for stock-losses in classactions: Peanuts.

    In my opinion, if there was a real problem that Martha was 100% responsible for, then I would think that this would have been resolved much earlier; and that the sanctions would have been much longer. Given the extension of "only" three weeks, and the fact that her home confinement is "almost over" [her it is, August 2005], I think that this is merely a symoblic gesture.

    Looks like Stanton is taking some of the blame. Despite the "many" apparent "curiosities" with the apparent "idiosyncrasies" with her confinement, they've only agreed to extend the confinement by three weeks. Woop dee doo . . .

    Walking Questions

    There's some movement in the air. Stanton has been talking to some people about Martha's Workout regimen: To engage in exercise quoted in People, did Martha properly get permission before leaving the grounds; and is exercise part of the approved activities?

    From the POST via SaveMartha: "Walking around the grounds is not part of the four activities," said Chris Stanton, chief federal probation officer for the Southern District of New York, whose office is supervising Stewart's home detention.

    "During the time of home confinement, you are restricted to your home — the dwelling," he said.

    "Whether she was granted permission or not, I can't say," added Stanton, who was informed about the magazine interview by The Post.

    "We'll look into it. We're going to review the article and see if there's any violation."
    Dining Questions

    Her probation officer said it was OK to eat out.

    But changed his mind when New York's media went to press.

    Who's really on probation, or her probation officer, Stanton?

    In re: Chief Probation Officer: Chris J. Stanton for U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.

    Allegations: STANTON's failure to:
  • [a] properly and consistently enforce a Federal Court order; and
  • [b] ensure compliance with Court Order.


    Procedures require both the Probation officer and the parolee to discuss the terms. Stewart signed the document. [DAN MANGAN and HEIDI SINGER "PLAY BY THE RULES - MARTHA PROBATION TERMS" The New York Post July 29, 2004 Thursday, Pg. 21]


  • Has the oversight and probation officer conduct deviated from the existing freely chosen professional standards?

  • Is the high profile and public stature of Martha Stewart affecting Stanton's ability to make informed judgments about appropriate parolee conduct?

  • Has Stanton failed to get clear guidance from the court?

  • Is there a reasonable dispute over the terms of the probation which Stanton failed to clarify in writing with the court?
    QUOTE: Chief U.S. Probation Officer, Chris Stanton, wrote to the court, noting that the first sentence of the condition was, in his view, inconsistent with the second, and proposing an interpretation aimed at reconciling the two sentences. [New York Law Journal, Vol. 66; Pg. 23]
  • Are the verification procedures in place robust and based on reasonable suspicion, or are they more related to Stanton's desire to avoid negative publicity about the apparent loose and inconsistent rules applied? [Ref: RICHARD T. PIENCIAK. DOING GOOD WHILE DOING TIME. Daily News May 5, 2002 Pg. 26]

  • Were the terms which STANTON discussed with STEWART consistent with the court orders?

  • Did STEWART agree to terms in writing which STANTON is now verbally recanting?

    1994: STANTON Was Acting Chief Probation Officer

    [Ref: DEBORAH PINES "Pearl St. Courthouse, Nation's Largest, Set to Open in May," New York Law Journal March 30, 1994, p. 1.]

  • What were the conditions of his appointment?

  • What were the conditions of his predecessor's absence?


    Media inquiries

    If you want more info about Stanton, talk to Allen Dotson.

  • FOIA or subpoena

    Root directory for documents is: H:\Users\SuttonM

    Alternate: H:\Users\StantonC
  • Stanton

    Stanton E-mail:

    Phone 212-805-0080 Cell 917-337-5156

  • DiBartolomeo

    Stanton's Assistant: Michele DiBartolomeo. Executive Assistant.


    DiBartolomeo Phone 212-805-0076 Cell 917-337-5170

  • Allegation: Stanton's office issued guidance advocating misrepresentations; Stanton claimed he knew nothing of documents his office issued while he was in charge and knew, or should have known the nature of the information his office released

    STANTON Credibility: Veracity in re public statements

    Stanton isn't unknown to be in charge of documents he claims he doesn't read. Staton said of a guide for felons that advocates lying, "None of us has ever sat down and read the book." [BRAD HAMILTON and ANGELA MONTEFINISE "EX-CON LYING GUIDE; TOLD TO FIB ON JOB HUNT" The New York Post. November 21, 2004 Sunday. Sports+Late City Final; Pg. 5.]

    This public statement was apparently freely made and remains unchallenged, and yet is contrary to his own interests, therefore admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule.

  • Allegation: Staton has reputation for being confused over probation guidance

    This isn't the first time Stanton has issued public statements about high profile cases.

    Notice the contrast: One day they say its ok because they approved the visit. . .
    QUOTE: "We're going to do some investigating to see if this event was directly related to her employment," said Chris Stanton, chief federal probation officer for the Southern District of New York, whose office had originally approved Stewart's request to go to the event.Ref
    . . . yet, in the next situation they defer to the court on who is responsible for oversight:
    QUOTE: "She's not allowed to go into her garden," said Chris Stanton, head of the U.S. Probation Office in New York. "The judge clearly directed that she must remain in the one home."Ref
    . . . yet it was in March 2005, they mentioned some 48-hour rule
    QUOTE: The feds admitted yesterday that they've approved the domestic diva's excursions to dine at various eateries as part of the 48 hours per week she's allowed to be working, officials said.

    "It's part of the 48 hours. If someone works eight to ten hours, she has to eat," said federal probation spokesman Chris Stanton. "She's allowed to eat while at work."

    The probation officer loses credibility when he makes rules in March 2005 that permit eating, approve the release; then recant not on the basis of new information, but media inquiries. Who's standing up for the rule of law? Time to send in the DOJ OPR to ask Stanton why he wants to change horses midstream.

    Yet, this looks like it isn't the first time Stanton has been apparently giving waffling guidance. Look at what Stanton said about Diana Brooks:
    QUOTE: Chris Stanton, chief probation officer for the Southern District of New York, tells us that Brooks can go shopping so long as she gets permission. Ref
    Shopping is permissible for BROOKS; but eating, when it is not work related, is sometimes OK for STEWART, unless the media asks a question.

    Put another way, in Stanton's universe eating is sometimes not OK for STEWART, even if he approves it; but shopping is also OK for BROOKS. Huh?

    Stanton is the one who is confused.

  • Why are some given special privileges and nites out, but then the probation officer makes statements raising questions whether their approval was appropriate?

    Indeed, this isn't the first time someone has looked into this. Inside Edition has reviewed the matter.
    Stanton said she'll be subject to unannounced, face-to-face meetings with her probation officer, both at home and at her office.
    Apparently, Staton can approve something like a night out, not ask questions before making the decision, then change his mind based on the media.

    Stanton could've "not commented," but chose to comment.

    Stanton could've made a surprise visit to the event to make his own decision. But he didn't do that either.


    I find it curious that the US Probation officer would publicly state in Mar 2005 that meals were OK, but then only look into the matter once that decision was questioned.

    It appears as though Stewart has substantially complied with US Probation officer's apparently loose enforcement and exceptions.

    It's reasonable, given the guidance that it was "OK" to eat out in Mar 2005, that the subsequent dining events were consistent with the probation officers prior actions and public statements.

    Yet, it appears the release and probation terms are not fixed. Rather, Stewart is substantially complying with the directions.

    The problem is Stanton has apparently approved these types of engagements in the past; but is now second guessing his own decision in light of reasonable questions.

    This does not bode well for his judgment. Either he is in charge, and made a decision; or his decision, however convoluted should stand and not require outside review.

    However, if some engagements are acceptable but not others, then STANTON needs to explain his apparent "decision" that he is now second guessing in light of the media questions.

    STEWART appears to have a very weak-backboned probation officer who bends in the wind. DoJ OPR needs to find out why the wind and the media, not the court, are the foundation for STANTON's public statements and decisions.

  • Make sure the tape recorders are going when Stanton responds. His later denials would be admissible.

    Yes, he's confirming DoJ's already abysmal PR problem: They're flaky. And they have excuses for everything.

    And I'm not looking to DoJ to ensure the laws of the land are enforced. Only when it is convenient for them. That's not every often.

    Indeed, Stanton had been in a position to lead the probation office since 1994 when he was acting Chief.

    How does a man who has been in charge for 11 years claim his office is issuing information he hasn't read? Perhaps this would explain the probation terms which STEWART signed, but apparently STANTON is, again, not all that familiar with, as he was with the pamphlet advocating lying.

  • What's the reason for the Chief Probation officer being unfamiliar with documents his office is in a position to manage?

  • Or are we saying that STANTON likes to sign approvals for budget allocations without properly investigating the details related to those funds transfers and final work products?

  • Did ALLEN DOTSON notice any strange conduct in re document reviews, funds transfers, and/or budget reappropriations while working for STANTON?


    Rule 32.1 specifically states that " A hearing and assistance of counsel are required before the terms or conditions of probation or supervised release can be modified"

  • Why does it appear, despite Stewart's assent in writing to the terms, is Stanton now changing the terms of his prior approval only based on media coverage?

    18 USC 3602 clearly imposes mandatory duties on the probation officer, inter alia

  • instruct a probationer
  • keep informed
  • keep a record of his work

    . . . why is Stanton, despite approving the nite out, now unsure what the nature of the pre-approved-event was?

    Are we saying that Stanton is not effectively keeping records of STEWARTs work, and not effectively keeping informed of the nature of events related to work requisite for granting approvals?

    Or is Stanton merely relying on gossip as a catalyst for action? Does ALLEN DOTSON have a view on this; and would the pamphlet advocating lying have been withdrawn but for media questions?

    If true, this would substantially undermine confidence and integrity of the judicial system. Can it go any lower?

    Indeed, the problem is not isolated to Staton. 18 USC 3602 clearly promulgates in section (6) that "upon request of the Attorney General. . ." the probation officer will act.

    Yet, what do we have in this case? It wasn't the US Attorney, but the media frenzy that was the catalyst for Stanton's public statements. Where is the US Attorney in this circus?

    Is it not interesting that the US attorneys, despite clear evidence of torture in Guantanamo, lie before the US Supreme Court; but then take no visible stance when one of the probation officers appears to respond only to a media circus.

    What's the excuse this time, Stanton and Kelley?

    We may never find out. David N. Kelley is being replaced.

    Quite an interesting contrast for Idiot-boy Gonzalez to explain to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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