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Prosecutors, Judge Resist Pregnant Attorney’s Request for Delay in Trial
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Deborah Misir claims she was harassed by prosecutors for requesting a delay in a trial due to her high-risk pregnancy.

Summary: A New York attorney requested a postponement of a trial due to her high-risk pregnancy. She claims that prosecutors harassed her in response, and the judge has yet to decide the issue.

As any woman knows, being pregnant is tough and exhausting. When it’s a high-risk pregnancy, things become even more serious. The New York Times reports that Deborah N. Misir is a New York attorney who is in her sixth month of a high-risk pregnancy. She is scheduled to be in a trial roughly two months before her due date, and put in a request that the trial be postponed.


Misir’s doctors told her to “avoid stress, pressure and upsetting confrontations, which could result in medical complications that could threaten the life of [her] baby,” Misir explained in a letter to the judge.

To Misir’s surprise, the U.S. attorney’s office has objected to the delay, and the judge, noting Misir’s health, inquired about a trip to Washington that Misir has planned. In response, Misir said, “I am puzzled by the U.S. attorney’s office’s objection to any adjournment due to my pregnancy. Pregnancy—much less high-risk pregnancy—has long been recognized in this country as a legal disability requiring accommodation.”

Read about Stacy Ehrisman, who was scolded in open court by a judge for bringing her newborn to a hearing.

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On October 16, Misir wrote Judge Kenneth M. Faras of Federal District Court and asked for the delay, stating that she “physically cannot try a grueling federal white collar case during [her] third trimester.” Misir added, “Because of my medical history and health conditions that have developed with the pregnancy, my doctors have ordered me to substantially reduce my workload, and to restrict travel and activity during the remainder of my pregnancy.” Misir additionally explained to the judge that she called two prosecutors, Perry Carbon and Douglas B. Bloom, to see if they would consent to a delay, but in return she was “shouted at and insulted.” James Margolin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, stated that Misir’s description of the prosecutors’ behavior was “factually inaccurate.”

Misir represents Vincent Tabone, who is scheduled to face a retiral in White Plains, New York beginning January 5 on corruption charges. Tabone is the former vice chairman of the Queens Republican Party. His co-defendant is Malcolm A. Smith, a Democratic state senator. Both have pleaded not guilty to bribery conspiracy and other charges they are facing.

In June, the trial ended after Judge Faras declared a mistrial because prosecutors failed to expeditiously turn over hours of wiretapped conversations to the defense. Many such conversations were in Yiddish. However, a third defendant, Daniel J. Halloran III, a former Republican councilman, was tried and convicted in July.

Click here to read about a Hobby Lobby employee who claims she was forced to leave because she was pregnant.

Prosecutors wrote the judge on October 20 and expressed opposition to the request. They argued that the case had been pending for quite some time and that Misir had previously agreed to the January trial date. They noted that she had “highly experienced and able” co-counsel, and that Tabone had a right to a speedy trial, adding that the court “should not countenance further delay of the trial.”

On October 30, Misir responded, and asked that a pretrial conference be postponed because she had a long-planned trip to Washington, D.C. to speak at a lawyers’ conference. In response, Judge Karas drafted an order noting that Misir was traveling “despite the fact that in her request for an adjournment” of the January trial she stated she had to restrict traveling. Further, the judge scolded Misir for what he characterized as her “ex parte communications” with his chambers, noting that she had called his chambers and spoken with a law clerk for about 10 minutes regarding scheduling the pretrial conference, during which she expressed criticism of the prosecutors. Misir later stated in a letter that she had called only to resolve scheduling and procedural issues with the court and denied speaking about the “merits” of the case. She said her frustration was a result from her condition and what she felt was prosecutors’ conduct toward her “at a medically delicate time.”

Here is an article about a Pier 1 employee claiming forced maternity leave.

Misir said that she and her husband were thrilled to be expecting their first child together. Misir explained, “As any doctor or woman will tell you, it’s very difficult to have a successful pregnancy at my age, and I have faced many medical issues in the past.”

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Misir stated that she has worked as a Justice Department attorney, an ethics lawyer in the White House, and as a deputy assistant secretary of labor for policy. “In over 17 years of federal practice, I have never been treated so disrespectfully, brutally, and with lack of basic civility by opposing counsel, as has occurred in this court,” she declared.

Judge Karas has yet to make a decision about the delay.

Photo credit: New York Times



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